If you’re a hockey fanatic like myself, you may already know about the wonderful world of International Hockey. There are several leagues all throughout Europe, Russia, and Asia that host many former and upcoming NHL Stars. My favorite of all of the leagues is the KHL, The Kontinental Hockey League. The KHL is an international professional hockey league that was established in 2008. It hosts teams from Belarus, China, Finland, Latvia, Kazahkstan, and Russia for a total of 23 teams. Like most leagues, there are the powerhouse organizations like CSKA Moscow, SKA St. Petersburg, and Avangard Omsk. Games can start as early as 1:00 am est on weekends and 4:00 am est on weekdays. Another factor about the KHL that has always intrigued me is the opportunity in betting lines. The KHL is a significantly smaller betting market than a top league like the NFL or the EPL. Because of this, there can be opportunities at odds you cannot find in other leagues.
Travel Is A Major Factor
At one point in the season, a team will travel from Finland to China for a game with several stops for games along the way. That’s over 3,000 miles traveled. The eastern conference covers most of the Asian continent while the western conference covers the western part of Russia, Finland, and Belarus. Games to keep an eye out on skewed odds are home games for The Kunlun Red Stars, Admiral Vladivostok, and Amur Khabarovsk. All three teams are located on the far eastern border of Russia or China. The travel alone just to get to those teams can be grueling and most of the time you’ll find them facing teams at the end of a road trip. Even though all 3 teams mentioned are at the bottom tier teams within the KHL, they are given a big advantage with home ice, and betting lines rarely reflect it. Keep in mind, these games will normally start anywhere from 4 am est to 6 am est as it’s an 11 hour time difference.
Pay Attention To Line Movement
There are several apps that you can track line movement for traditional betting markets, but few host betting lines for international hockey games. One app that I use to track line movement is FlashScore.com. There you can see where odds opened for KHL games on the 3-way Moneyline. If the numbers reflect what your sportsbook says, that usually means there was little action on the event. If the odds have shifted drastically, it usually means two things. 1, An injury occurred to a major player (flashscore will show you injury reports), or 2, a “sharp” or professional bettor has placed a wager on the event. My favorite line movement to follow is money placed and the home team underdog. If a team is playing at home and say starts at +200 but the line moves to +150, I will always bet that home underdog.
Teams To Watch This Season
There are two categories in the teams to watch for me this year. The first being the top contenders and the latter being the teams not to count out. I’ll start first with the top contenders. Avangard Omsk is a serious contender to repeat their Gagarin Cup Championship run. To open the season, they beat CSKA Moscow 4-0 in what looked like a similar outcome to their championship series. Another top contender to watch is Salavat Ufa. They are a younger team who has throughout the previous season shown signs of having a break-out year.
The teams you shouldn’t count out this year are Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Helsingin Jokerit, and Amur Khabarovsk. These three teams are consistently counted out by the books and when at home can win you a lot of money off of large underdog odds. Jokerit and Magnitogorsk are the two teams you can count on the most in this situation.
Picks To Start The Season
Since this is coming out Thursday, September 2nd I will give picks for tomorrow. Starting at 9:30 am est, we have Salavat Ufa. hosting Barys Astana. I am going to bet Salavat Ufa +110 on the 3-way Moneyline. My second pick will be Metallurg Magnitogorsk +105 on the 2-way Moneyline as they host my favorite KHL team, Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg. Avto is an aging team filled with some of my favorite players growing up, but time is unforgiving and Metallurg is filled with young talent.
Best of luck and make sure to follow me on Twitter @EKBets where I will be posting all of my bets as I make them.