The Free Press


Jets look like a significant overlay

Good morning, folks.

Back in the days when I would wager a few bucks now and then, I was always on the lookout for what they call an overlay.

Not to be confused with a layover — those annoying hours we spend in airports — an overlay in gambling is when the odds look to be higher than they should be.

Two of my most memorable winning wagers on overlays were Unbridled and Charismatic — Kentucky Derby winners in 1990 and 1999, respectively.

Both days I remember thinking those horses had legitimate shots at winning, yet were going off at longer odds than I would have expected — Unbridled won at 11/1 and Charismatic galloped home first at a whopping 30/1.

Most of my gambling was done at the local racetrack — Assiniboia Downs — but I also recall being in Vegas in the spring of 1984 and getting a good price at Caesar's Palace Sportsbook on the Edmonton Oilers to win the Stanley Cup. The house clearly overestimated the four-time champion New York Islanders and didn't give the young upstarts from Canada much of a chance.

The Oilers won their first of five Cups, beating the Isles in five games — and I remember getting back about $600 on a $100 bet.

I was reminded of past wagers on Tuesday when I received my regular Vegas odds email update from Jimmy Shapiro, who does PR for the wagering site

Jimmy always begins the email with: Steve, I thought these odds may be of interest to you.

Some do, some don't. Tuesday's definitely did, as I noticed the Winnipeg Jets listed at 16/1 to win the NHL's Western Conference in 2021-22 and 14/1 to win the Central Division.

Say what?!

In my books, those are two significant overlays.

Vegas lists the Colorado Avalanche (11/4), the Vegas Golden Knights (15/4), the Dallas Stars (11/1), the Minnesota Wild (11/1), the Edmonton Oilers (12/1), and the Seattle Kraken (14/1) at shorter odds in the West and the Avs (1/2), the Wild (13/2) and the Stars (8/1) as better bets than the Jets in the Central.

With those odds in mind, here's some recent form on the other horses in the race:


  • I suppose the Avs warrant being the early favourites, given they won the Presidents Trophy last season, but since then they've lost their No. 1 goalie Phillip Grubauer to the Kraken and now will have the average-at-best Darcy Kuemper, who they got from Arizona, in net. And, they still have Nazem Kadri;
  • The Golden Knights beat the Avs in the playoffs, but then looked exposed up front, particularly down the middle, in losing to the Montreal Canadiens. And then they ejected Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury;
  • Dallas has some young stars in Miro Heiskanen, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz but their core is aging and their significant off-season signing is a past-his-prime Ryan Suter;
  • I like GM Bill Guerin's moves in Minny to overhaul a grey-beard roster, but the Wild are still uncertain whether or not Calder winner Kirill Kaprizov will return to the team and really, can every-other-year Cam Talbot have another year like he did last season?;
  • The Oilers were swept in the playoffs by the Jets, lost their best defensive defenceman Adam Larsson to the Kraken and I'm skeptical that Mike Smith can continue to carry the load in goal. He'll turn 40 this season;
  • The Kraken will be competetive, but I don't see them pulling a first-year miracle like Vegas did in 2017-18.


I’m not saying the Jets will win the conference or the division, but it seems to me that the addition of defencemen Nate Schmidt and Brendan Dillon addresses what was really the only weakness the team had last season — a year where the Jets were highly competitive and went to the second round of the playoffs.

It also seems to me they have as good a chance as any to win their division and conference and with odds like that, if I was a betting man, I'd put a few bucks down on them winning both the Central and the West.

A $100 bet on both those prospects could potentially bring in $3,000 — definitely enough to enjoy a layover somewhere.

Unfortunately, I don't bet on hockey — and in particular, I wouldn't bet on the Jets.

A few years ago. prior to the 2017-18 season, I made a wager with colleague Paul (Willy) Williamson that the Jets would finish the season with more points than his Toronto Maple Leafs. 

First game of year, Winnipeg was hosting the Leafs and they got whacked 7-2.

I told Willy the next morning, I could no longer go through with the wager as I found myself cheering for the home team. Need to remain impartial in this gig. He understood and let me off the hook.

For the record, the Jets went on to record a franchise-best 114 points that season, losing in the conference final to Vegas.

The Leafs had 105 points, but of course they lost in the first round to the Bruins.

Just sayin'.

As always folks, you can reach me by replying to this mailing or by sending me an email here.

Our Coverage

Taylor Allen has been out at Winnipeg Blue Bombers practice the last couple of days, as the CFL team prepares for its game against the Argos on Saturday afternoon in Toronto, and he has filed these reports:

Sibling revelry: For the first time in their lives, brothers Nick and Noah Hallett are playing side by side. The defensive backs from London, Ont., talked to the media on Wednesday about what it’s like to play pro football together for the Blue Bombers;

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Noah Hallett (23) and Nick Hallett (21) during practice at IG Field on Wednesday. (Alex Lupul Winnipeg Free Press)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Noah Hallett (23) and Nick Hallett (21) during practice at IG Field on Wednesday. (Alex Lupul Winnipeg Free Press)

Destructive 'D': The Winnipeg defence has allowed measly 13 points in two games despite injuries, new faces;

We also have for you:

Mike McIntyre: In his latest column Mike suggests millionaire athletes' refusals to be vaccinated is a bunch of jab-berwocky;

Homestand: Joseph Bernacki has details on how the Winnipeg Goldeyes fared Wednesday night in a game at Shaw Park vs the Gary SouthShore Railcats.

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