Hockey? You bet!

Caesars Palace is now taking bets on who will score more goals this season, Steven Stamkos (above)...

Caesars Palace is now taking bets on who will score more goals this season, Steven Stamkos (above) or Corey Perry, as well as other wagers. (AFP)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

TORONTO - Hockey fans, Todd Fuhrman wants your action.

The senior sports and race book analyst at Caesars Palace, right in the heart of the Las Vegas strip, sees hockey wagering as a growth opportunity.

And he's betting he's not alone.

Raised in Chicago, Fuhrman who later played junior hockey in Vermont, has always loved pucks, even though he works in a business where football is king.

So amid the frenzy of the opening week of the NFL season, Fuhrman and his colleagues in the Caesars sports book have released a collection of season-long prop bets on the upcoming NHL campaign.

"We just figured there was a niche in the market that wasn't being served," Fuhrman said Tuesday in a phone interview from the famed casino.

"Even in a football-centric city, we know there are still a number of hockey fans wanting action. In some ways, it's a sport that's forgotten on the strip. It's something we hope can differentiate us from other sports books here in Vegas."

In part to protect themselves and in part because heavy hitters tend not to hammer hockey anyway, initially bets will be limited to the relatively low $1,000 per wager.

And beyond the obvious — that any action would barely make a blip on what a single NFL game would attract — Fuhrman has no idea what to expect.

"How they buy into it will be an interesting test," Furhman said. "We'll see who comes in and bets it. The sky's the limit if it's well received."

The usual casino rules apply, most notable that all players in head-to-head props must play in one game for the bet to be "action" and parlays are not allowed.

Here's a sample from the Caesars menu:

Will a Canadian-based team win the Stanley Cup?

If you wager on the "Yes" you get the bonus of seven teams working for you, including one of the finalists from last spring.

If you say "No" you get the rest of the league, but have to pay a huge price for it — odds are minus-500 meaning that to win $100 you will need to wager $500.

By comparison, that same $100 would return you a $400 profit if the Cup finally returns north of the border.

"This is one we might keep up all season and adjust the prices accordingly," Fuhrman said.

Canadian goal leader — Steven Stamkos vs. Corey Perry

Will it be the guy who has the most goals in the league the past two seasons combined (Stamkos) or the first-time 50-goal man who led the league last season, Perry.

The hunch bet would be on Stamkos (who had 45 last season) until Perry proves he can back up last season's numbers.

Then again, if you take the Lightning superstar, you have to give up 61/2 goals meaning it would take seven more than Perry scores to cash.

Russian Goal Leader — Alex Ovechkin vs. Ilya Kovalchuk

As in the Canadian head-to-head matchup, you pay a hefty price if you want to back the Great 8. Ovechkin, who scored just 32 last year but topped 50 the previous three seasons, has an 81/2 goal handicap on him against Kovalchuk, who had 31 in 2010-11.

"The match ups of players from a different country allowed us to do something unique to our property," said Furhman, will also offer a Swedish prop (Henrik Sedin vs. Daniel Sedin) an American (Patrick Kane vs. Bobby Ryan) and one from that hockey hotbed Austria (Michael Grabner vs. Thomas Vanek.)

As a related wager, Caesars has posted an over/under on the number for the leading goal scorer (511/2) and points leader (1071/2).

Season shutout leader — over/under 9 1/2

Can Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist repeat his 11 shutouts of last season? Or will the nine Tim Thomas had be a more realistic number?

Hint: The over would have cashed seven of the past 10 seasons, a reason the "juice" is on the over. Bettors have to lay minus-150 to take it.

Plus-minus leader — over/under 35 1/2

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was last year's leader at plus-33, but don't be fooled. The previous season no less than five Capitals players beat that number, led by Jeff Schultz (50).

The over also would have cashed the previous four seasons.

THE ODDS ON STANLEY

Caesars Palace has posted Stanley Cup odds. Here's a sampling:

Canadian teams

Vancouver Canucks - 6-1
Montreal Canadiens - 25-1
Toronto Maple Leafs - 30-1 ("People are going to bet them no matter what," Fuhrman said of that seemingly low number.)
Edmonton Oilers - 40-1
Calgary Flames - 50-1
Winnipeg Jets - 60-1
Ottawa Senators - 225-1

Top 5 teams

Chicago Blackhawks - 4.5-1 ("We've seen a lot of action on the Hawks," said Fuhrman of a team that opened at 15-1. "They have a huge fan following."
Pittsburgh Penguins - 5-1
Vancouver Canucks - 6-1
Buffalo Sabres - 6-1
Washington Capitals - 7-1


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