Home | News | Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 18th, 2023

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 18th, 2023

By Hank Blaine

A very capable goaltender but one who has struggled this season is available on waivers as the Carolina Hurricanes surprisingly placed Antti Raanta on waivers Saturday. The 34-year-old goalie is 6-5-1 with a 3.61 goals-against average and .854 save percentage in 14 games (12 starts) this season. He allowed six goals on 30 shots in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Friday. Some team likely will claim him with only a $1.5 million salary this year and a good career resume. Here are two intriguing early-week matchups and picks.

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (December 18th, 2023)

Seattle Kraken vs. Dallas Stars

  • When: Monday, December 18th, 2023, 8:00 PM ET
  • Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
  • TV: NFL Network
  • Radio: KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM (Kraken) // 1310 The Ticket (Stars)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: kraken (+160) // Stars (-196)

The Stars probably will be without No. 1 goaltender and Vezina Trophy candidate Jake Oettinger on Monday and maybe for a while longer. Jake Oettinger left eight minutes into the Dallas Stars’ 5-4 win Friday night against the Ottawa Senators because of a lower-body injury and didn’t travel with the team Saturday to St. Louis.

Oettinger allowed goals on the Senators’ first two shots in the opening three minutes. After his only save about five minutes later, when he extended his right pad to the post, he signaled to an official for a timeout and skated to the tunnel at center ice. He entered Friday 11-7-2 in 20 starts with a 2.85 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.

With Oettinger unable to travel, the Stars dressed Joe O’Brien as their emergency backup goalie behind Scott Wedgewood, who allowed four goals on 34 shots in the Stars’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Blues. Wedgewood was helped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period before coughing up three straight goals. He would eventually give up the game-winning goal in overtime to Colton Parayko to drop his record to 6-1-2 on the season. Wedgewood should be expected to take on the starter’s role for as long as Oettinger is sidelined.

If something happens to Wedgewood, O’Brien would see his first NHL action. The 28-year-old played college hockey at Niagara University (2015-19) and was part of the St. Louis AAA Blues U-16 and U-18 program. One of his coaches was former NHL defenseman Al MacInnis, who is a senior adviser to Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. He was 3-11-2 with a 4.07 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in 26 games through four seasons at Niagara.

In Saturday’s loss, Miro Heiskanen recorded his 177th career assist and tied Craig Hartsburg for the most by a Stars/North Stars defenseman before age 25.

The Kraken have taken a big step back this season in part due to some injuries as a few key forwards remain out. Seattle had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 3-2 home shootout loss to the Kings on Saturday. Carl Grundstrom scored the deciding goal in the ninth round of a shootout. Adam Larsson and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in regulation for Seattle, which lost for the ninth time in 11 games. Joey Daccord stopped 36 shots. The Kraken mustered just four shots through the first 30 minutes and finished tied for their second-lowest shot total of the season.

Vince Dunn (16-54—70 in 79 GP) collected an assist on the opening goal and became the third defenseman to record 70 points in 2023. Dunn also became the first player in Kraken history to record at least 70 points in a calendar year (teammate Jared McCann is three points from joining him).

NHL Betting Pick: Stars

Edmonton Oilers vs. NY Islanders

  • When: Tuesday, December 19th, 2023, 10:00 PM ET
  • Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY
  • TV: ESPN+
  • Radio: 630 CHED AM (Oilers) // 88.7FM WRHU (Islanders)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: TBA

Edmonton got really hot after firing Coach Jay Woodcroft and replacing him with Kris Knoblauch but the team has been blown out in back to back games, both at home, since an eight-game winning streak. The Oilers lost 5-1 at home to Florida on Saturday to end a long homestand. Brandon Montour scored his seventh game-winning goal with Florida and tied Ed Jovanovski for the second most by a defenseman in Panthers history. Aaron Ekblad tops the list with 23.

Connor McDavid picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games, a span during which he has netted 28 points and moved from 91st in the scoring race to sixth. It was McDavid’s 11th straight game with an assist, tying Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov (from Nov. 16-Dec. 6) for the longest assist streak in the NHL this season. It would also mark a new career high for McDavid and the longest by an Oilers player since Wayne Gretzky nearly 37 years ago (11 GP in 1986-87).

Zach Hyman had the lone goal and has six goals and an assist over six games in December. It was his third straight game with a goal, and his 18 tallies on the year put him fourth in the NHL, trailing only Toronto’s Auston Matthews, Vancouver’s Brock Boeser and Tampa Bay’s Kucherov. Hyman is at 30 points, 100 shots on net, 24 hits, 24 PIM and a plus-6 rating over 27 appearances.

“We’ve been happy with how we’ve been playing and kind of got our season back on track here the last couple of weeks, but the games keep coming fast, so you got to be ready to play all the time,” defenceman Brett Kulak said. “Teams are good. They’re hungry. They weren’t happy with their game coming into this one, and they were hungry around the net and we weren’t on our A-game.”

The Isles also enter on a two-game skid after losing 5-3 in Montreal on Saturday. Montreal controlled the play in the first period and outshot New York 14-10 before taking it up a notch in the second with four unanswered goals. The Islanders were playing the second night of a back-to-back after losing 5-4 in a shootout to the Boston Bruins on Friday.

Brock Nelson scored twice, Noah Dobson had three assists and Semyon Varlamov finished with 36 saves for New York, which trailed 4-0 entering the third period but scored three times to make it a one-goal game. It was the Islanders’ first regulation loss in December. Bo Horvat extended his point streak to a career-high 10 games with New York’s third goal.

Dobson now has racked up three assists on three occasions over his past 10 outings, Dobson 16 helpers during that 10-game stretch. He is currently tied for third in NHL scoring among defenders with 32 points over 30 contests. Dobson is on pace for 88 points. Nelson stretched his point streak to four games and seven points, including four goals. Nelson is up to 27 points, including 15 goals, in 30 games. His career goal mark is 37, which was set in 2021-22, but this pace would get him his first 40-goal season.

Edmonton tries for the season sweep as it beat the visiting Islanders 4-1 on Nov. 13 – that was Knoblauch’s Oilers debut as coach. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and three assists, and McDavid had a goal and an assist.

NHL Betting Pick: Oilers

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READ MORE: Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 25th, 2023