| Wed 17/01/2018 - 03:20 EST

Canadian Athletes to Watch in 2018

Canadian Athletes to Watch in 2018

Eight Canucks Worth Watching in 2018

Canada isn't just known for its maple syrup and overly nice people, it's a superpower in the world of sports too. Canada has produced some of the finest athletes in dozens of world-renowned sports. We look at the top Canadian athletes looking to breakout for this year:

Matthew Barzal

  • New York Islanders Odds to Win Stanley Cup: +2500

Don't look now but the rookie has 47 points in 45 games, which is tied with Sidney Crosby. Barzal has two five-point games in the season and his most recent one came without Islanders' superstar John Tavares.

Barzal is running away with the scoring race among NHL rookies and is seven points ahead of Canucks' stud Brock Boeser. Barzal came from the stacked 2015 draft class with the likes of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel but never received the same hype. The rookie is on pace to win the Calder trophy and establish himself as one of the game's most exciting young stars. 

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

The iconic duo was just named as Canada's flagbearers for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.The ice dancing pair has over a dozen gold medals but none was bigger than their 2010 victory in Vancouver where they wowed both Canadians and international audiences everywhere. 

They won gold in both the 2017 Canadian Championships in Ottawa and the Four Continent Championships in Gangneung. They will be among the favourites to capture the gold in this year's Olympics after finishing in second place in 2014.

Andrew Wiggins

  • Minnesota Timberwolves Odds to Win NBA Championship: +3300

Wiggins is having an off-year in the NBA offensively but he's instead improved his game without the ball. His defence has improved and already has a 1.1 Defensive Win Shares when his career-high was only 0.9. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus is also at its best at -1.3, a stark improvement from -2.9 from last season and -2.5 from two seasons ago.

With the Wolves on pace to make their first playoff appearance in 14 years, the additional attention can only push him to become better. Watch out for Wiggins.

Denis Shapovalov 

  • Odds to Win Australian Open: +8600 

It's a no-brainer we had to have the 2017 Tennis Canada male player on this list.

As the Australian Open heads to the second-round, Shapovalov is already looking like Canada's best tennis prospect this year. The teenager has a tough draw ahead and odds are stacked against him but he's beaten them before. While we don't expect Shapovalov to pull off the nigh-impossible by winning a Grand Slam, we're not doubting his ability to, at least, take out some of tennis's top players while he's at it. Look for Shapovalov to crack the top-25 this year.

Mark Scheifele

  • Winnipeg Jets' Odds to Win Stanley Cup: +1600

The Jets are Canada's best hope of winning the Stanley Cup this season and have a complete team.

Connor Hellebuyck's stellar play at goal has been key but Scheifele has been the anchor for the Jets thanks to his brilliant two-way play. Before his injury, he had 38 points in 38 games and was second among forwards in plus-minus.

The Jets seem to be doing just fine without Scheifele but the fifth-year pro will have plenty to prove when he returns to help the Jets make a deep playoff run.

Natalie Spooner

All eyes are now on the Canadian National Women's Hockey Team as they take the place of the Men's Hockey Team following the NHL barring its players to participate.

With all-time goalscorer Haley Wickhenheiser now retired, there is a slew of names to take her place as the "must-watch" player on the team but this is Spooner's time to shine.

The 27-year-old plays for the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. At 5'10" and 180 lbs, Spooner has the rare blend of size and skill. She had two goals during the last Olympics and will be counted on to score critical goals as Canada guns for its fourth straight gold medal.

Joey Votto

  • Odds of Cincinnati Reds to win World Series: +20000

The Reds being a rebuilding team doesn't take anything away from Votto's greatness. The 34-year-old was a runner-up for the MLB's National League MVP last year after leading the league in several categories including on-base percentage (OBP). He finished second in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among batters at 7.5, just a hair behind MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Votto will again be the subject of trade talks as the Reds continue to rebuild but Votto will remain one of baseball's finest batters.

Best Canadian Sportsbooks for 2018

No matter what time of the season it is, there's always a Canadian athlete making noise in whichever sport or league they're in. As such, Canadians are always involved and head to online sportsbooks to put a little money to compliment their faith in their athletes. These books offer the best lines and are fully legitimate. Check our reviews before committing. 

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