As one of the most prestigious individual trophies in hockey, the Conn Smythe Trophy is an accolade that adorns only a select few. First introduced in 1965, it is given to the individual who is viewed as the most valuable player (MVP) during each NHL post-season.
The winner is determined by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is named after Toronto Maple Leafs’ former owner, general manager, and head coach. It differs from MVP awards in other American sports, as it’s awarded to the player with the best performance over the entirety of the post-season, not just in the finals.
Its winner receives the trophy prior to the presentation of the Stanley Cup by the NHL Commissioner. Its current holder is Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy - a worthy winner as the Russian goaltender posted a shutout in each of the Lightning’s series’ winning games during the 2021 post-season.
Nathan Mackinnon (+1037)
Going into the playoffs, it is hard to look beyond Canadian center, Mackinnon, as a potential winner. The 26-year-old has had an excellent regular season, showing a continued attacking potency, with 32 goals and 56 assists in just 65 games.
An interest statistic to point out is that the Colorado Avalanche player averages more points per game in the post-season, than he does in the regular season (1.38 compared to 1.02). With those stats, he is currently third amongst players who have played at least 35 playoff games. The pair in front of him are the legends, Wayne Gretzky (1.84) and Mario Lemieux (1.61).
Mackinnon is keeping good company and if he plays to his potential, he could add another prestigious feat to his list of incredible accomplishments.
Jonathan Huberdeau (+1525)
Huberdeau is having the season of his life, becoming the first player in Florida Panthers’ history to secure over 100 points in a single season.
The 28-year-old finished the regular season with an excellent 30 goals and 115 points in 80 games. With the Panthers averaging over four goals per game, it is likely that Huberdeau will finish the playoffs with even more amazing statistics alongside his name.
If they do come out on top in the NHL Playoffs, the winger has an excellent chance of picking up this trophy too. Huberdeau is also in with a chance of winning this season’s Hart Trophy for the best player during the regular season.
Aleksander Barkov (2103)
Barkov is another player whose stats standout amongst the very best. The Panther’s captain scored 39 goals this regular season, in just 67 games. What stands out most for the player known as ‘Sasha’ is his ability to do it on both ends of the ice.
The Finn won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward last season and continuously shows himself to be an able defender, as well as a deadly forward. Despite this brilliance, some think the Barkov is still not receiving the recognition he deserves. This was recently discussed by Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette.
He said: “That underrated tag is definitely still there and it’s not fair to him. He deserves a lot more credit.”
A Conn Smythe trophy could definitely help change the narrative around Barkov and allow him to be viewed as one of the very best.
It is unsurprising to see the betting odds for the Conn Smythe trophy dominated by players from the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Afterall, they are the favorites to win this year’s Stanley Cup and only five players who didn’t win the NHL Championship in that season have ever won this trophy.
The Montreal Canadiens is the side who have won the most Conn Smythe Trophies, with nine players from their roster taking the trophy, but hey won’t be repeating that feat this year, as they have failed to make the playoffs.
The same can be said of the Detroit Red Wings, who sit in joint second place for the most winners of this trophy with both the Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins having had five winners.
However, if the winner does come from the Penguins, it is likely to be their 34-year-old captain, Sidney Crosby, who won the trophy in 2016 and 2017 and always performs well during the playoffs. In truth though, it is unlikely that this season’s winner will come from the Penguins and, ight now, it’s hard to look beyond players from The Avalanche and Panthers.
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Last updated: Feb 8, 8:10 AM UTC
Last updated: Feb 8, 8:16 AM UTC