Despite not having won the tournament for three years and with the health status of the team's top player in question, Team Canada are the favourites at the 2014 IIHF U-20 World Championship set to get underway on December 26 in Malmo, Sweden.
Last year, the Canadians and the Russians were favoured by bookmakers, but the teams wound up meeting in the bronze medal game as the underdog Americans, at 9/2, knocked off Canada and Sweden en route to their first gold medal since 2010.
So what's on the table this year? Here are the odds as published by bodog.ca:
Odds to win 2013-2014 IIHF World U20 Championship
Canada U20 7/4
Russia U20 3/1
Sweden U20 3/1
USA U20 3/1
Finland U20 14/1
Czech Republic U20 25/1
Switzerland U20 40/1
Slovakia U20 100/1
Germany U20 300/1
Norway U20 500/1
Here's a legitimate question for bettors: how good would the odds have to be on a team like Finland to earn consideration on a bet to win the tournament? Unlike senior divisions, there is a notorious lack of parity after the top four junior hockey nations. It hasn't been since 2006 that a team other than Canada, Sweden, Russia or the United States have medalled, not since 2001 has a team other than the 'Big 4' made it to the final. Finland, or even Switzerland, could be attached to some tempting odds but they may have to be a bit more favourable than what's on the table here.
The Canadian team is also the subject of some prop bets. As long as the country of Canada shuts down the week after Christmas and opens its heart to 23 awkward-looking teens under remarkable pressure from the national media, Bodog figures the nation may as well open its wallet:
Will Team Canada win the gold medal at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship?
Will Team Canada win a medal at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship?
The bookies seem to give an 83% chance to Canada winning a medal of any colour, versus 25% they'll be shut out for the second straight year.
Who will start the first game for Team Canada at the 2014 World Junior Championship?
Jake Paterson -140 (5/7)
Zachary Fucale EVEN (1/1)
Jake Paterson is one of the returnees from the team in Ufa one year ago. He was a third goalie, sure, but the Canadian brass favours experience when it comes to netminders so it makes sense he'd be favoured to be the starter, while the Habs' prospect Zach Fucale will be groomed to take over the cage next season in his final year of eligibility.
(Also, note to Bodog: Jake Paterson is the Saginaw goalie at Team Canada's selection camp. Jake Patterson, with two Ts, is not on the roster, despite his name being listed on the list of prop bets. Patterson plays for the London Knights, and actually has a higher save percentage than one-T Paterson.)
Last prop bet deals with tournament scoring:
Who will finish with the most points at the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championship?
Sam Reinhart 2/1
Connor McDavid 2/1
Hunter Shinkaruk 5/2
Jonathan Drouin 4/1
Aaron Ekblad 4/1
Matt Dumba 18/1
Interesting to see Aaron Ekblad, the defenceman with 25 points in 29 league games, land the same odds as Jonathan Drouin, with 50 points in 23 league games. Drouin's health is in question, though he's been practicing with the squad. It seems these were drawn up with the casual fan in mind, with three undrafted, yet high-projected picks, being listed in the press release.
At any rate, these are being circulated around. Buzzing the Net advises you to gamble responsibly, and no matter how tempting that 500-to-1 payout looks for a Norway victory, it's advised you avoid picking the teams whose stated goals coming into the tournament is to avoid the relegation round.