Learn How To Make Winning Hockey Prop Bets

Get to know the many types of hockey props bets and use these strategies to grow your betting bankroll.

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2022 7:59 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (91) jumps over Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) for an assist of a goal in the second period at Ball Arena.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

If you think you know how many shots Auston Matthews will record in an evening or how many penalty minutes your favorite rival matchup will register. In that case, hockey prop bets are here for you.

What are hockey prop bets?

For NHL betting, prop bets allow you to bet on the events within an NHL game, including various events spanning a broad number of statistics, like player and team performance.

The critical distinction between props and convention bets is that they are unrelated to the game’s outcome, like the moneyline or the puck line. Which team comes out with the W, L, or OTL isn’t connected to the result of your hockey prop bet, nor is the total number of goals scored between two teams.

The main categories of prop bets you’ll see sportsbooks offering are:

  • NHL player props
  • NHL team props
  • NHL game props 

NHL player props 

Most hockey prop bets are player props, and these bets allow you to bet what individual players will or will not do during a single game. Sportsbooks offer NHL player prop odds on whether a skater will hit the Over or Under (O/U) on an event or statistic. 

Due to the NHL’s low-scoring nature versus other North American sports, many Yes/No bets (i.e., will Nazem Kadri register an assist?) are available. 

Below, we’ll look at some examples of NHL player props and how they’d work in practice.

Goal-scoring props

Goal-scoring props are the most popular type of NHL player prop bets. How they work is straightforward—they allow you to bet on whether a player will score a goal in a single NHL game.

There are different types of goal-scoring props, including anytime goal scoring, the first goal of the game, and total goals scored. 

Anytime goal-scoring prop bets allow you to select from all skaters within a given game and bet on whether they’ll score a goal. Pretty simple, but it’s important to note that you’ll get short odds on snipers and long odds on fourth-liner penalty-killing specialists.

The odds you’ll get on an Elias Petterson will be shorter (think in the range of, say, +200, give or take +25) than a Tyler Motte (who will likely hover around +600-800). 

Player Anytime Goal Odds
Vancouver Canucks Elias Petterson +200
Ottawa Senators Tyler Motte +800

The examples above apply specifically to anytime goal-scoring props. Petterson has odds of +200, meaning that for every $100 bet, you profit $200 on a winning bet. You can use Covers' odds calculator to see what odds payout at different stakes.

Odds offered on any NHL player prop bet will vary wildly depending on the player’s profile and opponent’s strength. A slumping star will have longer odds. Suppose a star plays the 2022-2023 Chicago Blackhawks or Arizona Coyotes. In that case, you best believe those odds will be much shorter!

Total goals scored let you wager how many goals a player will score in a single game. Betting sites will only offer totals for stars (think Auston Matthews, Alexander Ovechkin, Leon Draisaitl, and so on). Even then, they’ll likely have pretty long odds, given how rare it is for even the league’s most elite to score twice in a single game. 

Player Over Under
Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews 0.5 (+230) 0.5 (-110)

The example above shows hypothetical total goals for Matthews. His total is set at 0.5. Bets on the Over require Matthews to score one or more goals, while the Under needs Matthews to have a zero-goal night. The second set of odds besides the assigned total is known as the vig or the juice and is the cost of placing a bet at a sportsbook. For the Under, the oddsmakers have set the vig at -110, meaning you'd need to wager $110 to win $100 in profit. 

First goal props are straightforward — you’re betting on which player will score the game’s opening goal.

Of course, always pay close attention to the terms and conditions of the prop bet you’re selecting before locking it in. You’d never want to find yourself in a situation where you hit your bet but accidentally picked the wrong market on your betting app or site.

Penalty-minute props

Penalty-minute props are simple. They allow you to bet on how many penalty minutes a player accrues during the game. For penalty minute props, sportsbooks assign a total of penalty minutes to a player (i.e., 6.5 PIM, where you’d be betting for or against a player getting a major penalty plus a minor penalty). You’ll bet on the Over/Under (O/U). 

As with any player prop, the odds for a penalty minute prop depend on a player’s history and any specific context within the game itself.

Shot props

Shot props are straightforward. They’re bets on whether a player will hit the Over/Under (O/U) of an assigned number of shots (i.e., Jason Robertson, O/U 4.5 shots).

Player Shots Over Under
Dallas Stars Jason Robertson 4.5 -110 -110

The most notable goal scorers are volume shooters. As such, their shot totals assigned to a shot prop bet be higher than for a middle-six forward or bottom-of-the-lineup defenseman.

Save props

You’re probably getting the hang of it at this point. Still, much as other everyday player props, save props allow you to wager Over or Under the number of saves an NHL goalie makes during a single game.

Tenders that see a lot of rubber — think Winnipeg’s Hellebyuck — will naturally have more saves attached to their save total. Goalies behind elite systems like Colorado’s will have fewer saves attached, especially against weaker teams.

Points props

Finally, you can bet on the Over/Under of the number of points a skater registers in a game. Of course, this applies to both goals and assists. As with all other types of NHL player props, context and past performance determine the number of points assigned to a player and the odds connected to the line. 

NHL team props

Team prop bets are nearly identical to player props: what a team collectively accomplishes within a game, not just a single player.

For example, an NHL team prop bet would allow you to bet on the total number of goals a team scores in a game (i.e., the Senators potting Over or Under 4.5 goals against the Leafs). In that example, If the Senators scored five goals or more, you’d be graded a winner.

Player Over Under
Ottawa Senators Ottawa Senators 4.5 goals +120 -140

Team props link to many aspects of team performance, such as the number of powerplay goals or allowing a specific number of goals against on the penalty kill. 

Lastly, team props can be a simple Yes/No proposition with odds attached to them. An example of this would be a bet on whether or not the Lighting will record a shutout.

It’s crucial to note that anyone on the team can contribute to what NHL team props are measuring, not just a single player.

NHL game props

A game prop bet is nearly identical to a team prop bet but looks at the in-game events in general without focusing on a team or player. 

For example, a game prop would allow you to bet on the total number of hits within a game registered by both teams combined. A game prop commonly links to a statistical total or whether a specific event will happen (i.e., will a shorthanded goal be scored in the game?)

Market Yes No
Ottawa Senators Will there be a short-handed goal? -110 -110

In the example above, a sportsbook is offering a yes/no market for a short-handed goal during a game. Bettors who pick Yes are rooting for a short-handed goal, while those picking No doubt it's likely occurrence. Sometimes sportsbooks only offer one side of this bet in the yes, where the only option is to bet the Yes.

NHL prop betting tips

Player props don’t always take as much of the spotlight attention as more conventional NHL bets, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value to be found. Below are a few good tips to keep in mind when you try your hand at NHL prop bets. 

Line shopping is always to your benefit Line shopping is always to your benefit

While line shopping is always an astute play in any situation, it’s essential for player and game props.

Every oddsmaker refers to different analyses and information regarding specific players or teams. As a result, there is some variance in opinion when it comes to setting lines on player or team performance. Player prop odds don’t respond to betting volume on either side of a wager to the same degree as conventional lines. Nor do sportsbooks integrate new information into player prop lines at the same speed as traditional game lines.

We emphasize this because if there’s a player or team that you like to hit a particular statistic or fulfill the conditions of a specific prop, look around! Doing so will likely allow you to get longer odds than you would if you default to your favorite book.

Covers' odds comparison tool lets you see the best NHL odds from a variety of legal NHL betting sites in your area.

Matchups and context matter Matchups and context matter

NHL prop betting has a ton of value if you dig into specific matchups. 

Think, for example, about a pedestrian divisional matchup of the Los Angeles Kings versus the Arizona Coyotes. It might surprise you, but LA ranked 5th in shots for 2021-2022, and, less surprisingly, Arizona ranked 32nd in shots against. 

The above matchup is an excellent opportunity to take the Over on a few LA Kings skaters’ shot props (Kempe or Kopitar are sure to juice their totals against a soft defense). Also, take the Over on the number of saves whichever random goalie (Harri Sateri? Who knows?) the Coyotes throw in the net.

You can use Covers' NHL matchups page to dive deep into betting stats and trends before you place your bet.

Check the box scores for tracked statistics Check the box scores for tracked statistics

It’s happened to every experienced NHL prop bettor (myself included). You bet on the number of saves, hits, or shots a skater will register during the game. You watch your TV or the ice in front of you with an intensity that can only occur when you’ve got cash on the line.

The final horn sounds, and you let out a fist bump because you just witnessed skater X throw Y hits, take Y shots, or make Y saves. But then, you check the box score, and it hasn’t been officially counted or registered. And you’re just sure that the player hit the Over or the Under.

In this situation, you’re probably right! NHL statistics trackers are not the most observant and make errors from time to time. Variance exists. However, do not waste your time bringing this up with your sportsbook. They will go with what the record book says 100% of the time, right or wrong.

Free NHL prop picks

Covers' expert hockey handicappers pour through games, teams, and player props to find opportunity and value. From goal props to saves, expect well-researched NHL prop picks from Covers.

NHL prop betting FAQs

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