With only two teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the race for the Conn Smythe Trophy is coming into focus, but it’s more heated than ever.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have a myriad of players who could potentially walk away with the trophy if they win, including breakout star Tyler Johnson, goaltender Ben Bishop, and team captain Steven Stamkos, but the Chicago Blackhawks have their own batch of talented players who could secure the hardware.
According to Bovada, captain Jonathan Toews is the favorite to win the award, with his odds currently sitting at 7-to-2 odds of winning the trophy, which is awarded to the MVP of the postseason. Johnson, Tampa's player with the best odds, is in second place at 4-to-1.
In order to break down which players on the team could potentially be candidates as MVP of the playoffs, we’re giving our five contenders for the award before the Stanley Cup Final begins on Wednesday night.
Yes, Crawford was pulled for the Blackhawks after the Game 2 debacle against Nashville in the first round and didn’t get back into the lineup until Scott Darling coughed up three quick goals in Game 6 of that series, but the fact remains that he’s had a solid postseason. He looked excellent against Minnesota in the second round sweep, and he had several great games against the Ducks in the Conference Final. He belongs in this conversation.
Kane has been consistently good throughout the postseason, getting up to speed quickly after returning five weeks early from a broken collarbone and not missing a beat along the way. He’s continued to score at will and is one of the best puck-movers in the entire league, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him get some serious Smythe love if the Hawks can win the Cup for the third time in six postseasons.
Keith has been a focal point for a lot of media coverage during this postseason, with the Blackhawks’ lack of defensive depth really pointing out just how critical he is to the team. He is playing over 31 minutes a night, is averaging just about a point per game in spite of that increased workload, and he is having an incredible postseason based on possession metrics. He is a serious Smythe candidate, and might even be the favorite right now.
For as much as Sharp struggled during the postseason, he has truthfully been great during the playoffs for the Blackhawks. He has been instrumental in making the third line a viable scoring threat on a night in, night out basis, and he has also been really solid in working the point on the power play. He may be a lame duck and could be traded away this offseason, but if this is his final series as a Blackhawk, he is finishing off his run on a high note.
The Blackhawks’ captain is the betting favorite for the Conn Smythe according to Bovada, and it’s not difficult to see why. The Blackhawks’ comeback win in their series against Anaheim can be attributed to Toews carrying the team on his back, scoring four goals in the final three games of that series. He also fended off one of the league’s best defensive centers in Ryan Kesler, and he could be making a serious run at grabbing his second career playoff MVP award.