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IIHF World Junior Championship Futures: United States Is Home Favorite

For hockey fans, Boxing Day is almost like Christmas 2.0. The holidays can sometimes make us weary, like when you end up spending your entire paycheck on presents and then listening to your family complain about how they didn’t like their gift (I thought you liked candles, Mom!). So, when December 26 rolls around, hockey fans know it’s time to move on from the gift-giving and get a present they’ll actually enjoy with the annual IIHF world junior hockey championship. Here are the four teams that bettors should have on their radar to win the 42nd edition of the tournament.

UNITED STATES (+125)

The reigning champion and favorite on Bovada, the United States is a decent pick to take home the gold again in this year’s tourney. They’ll be returning goaltender Joseph Woll, who was on the squad last year and was excellent in the two games he played. The main plus for this year’s edition of the U.S. roster is they’re returning seven players from last year. At forward, they’ll be led by Buffalo Sabres draft pick Casey Mittelstadt, who will get to skate in front of his future home fans. Bettors should know, though, that no team has won back-to-back gold since 2009.

CANADA (+160)

Normally, I’d be all over this pick but the recent history of choking in the big moment deters me from backing my brethren. The Canadian team fell to the U.S. squad last year in a shootout after holding two separate two-goal leads. Where the Canadians will be stacked is on the blue line as all of their defensemen were drafted in the top 15 in recent NHL drafts.  While the Canucks have won this tourney 16 times, they haven’t won it all since 2015 and at this value, the juice probably isn’t worth the squeeze.

FINLAND (+650)

A value pick, Finland has won gold in two of the last four tournaments and could be a sneaky pick for bettors looking to cash in on the “every other year” trend. The Finns are placed in Group A with the Americans, Canadians and Slovakians and will be put to the test to make it out of the group stage. Their expected starting goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, is a Sabres draft pick and the Buffalo crowd will want to get a look at Robin Lehner’s potential replacement. Miro Heiskanen, the third overall pick in the 2017 draft, will also be back on the blue line for the Finns and their forward depth should carry them well with five returning forwards from last year’s squad.

RUSSIA (+650)

The last time the world junior championship was in Buffalo, back in 2011, the Russians dominated and took home the gold. However, this year’s squad doesn’t have the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeni Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin out there dominating. While this year’s version has plenty of skilled forwards, it may be too much of an uphill battle to see the Russians repeat that feat when they don’t have generational talent hitting the ice. Only one of their defensemen has been drafted by an NHL team and most of their rearguards will come from the KHL. At +650, you’d be better served to spend your Christmas money on Bitcoin.

Here’s the complete list of odds for the tournament:

2017-18 IIHF World Junior Championship
TeamOdds
USA+125
Canada+160
Sweden+550
Finland+650
Russia+650
Czech Republic+2000
Slovakia+7500
Switzerland+7500
Denmark+25000
Belarus+30000

Odds as of December 20 at Bovada

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