The Washington Capitals and the Vegas Golden Knights are fighting for the Stanley Cup, meaning that a player from one of these teams will win the Conn Smythe trophy , Because while the criteria of the prize say that it is the player who is considered the most valuable in the playoffs for his team, it was never awarded to a player whose team did not reach the Stanley Cup final. Well, good luck next year, Mark Scheifele.
Fortunately, both the capitals and the knights have a collection of players who are worth a MVP consideration. This is how the field for the Conn Smythe ends when the final begins:
He had an overtime game winner back in Game 2 against Kings. He's not listed here because we think he has a realistic shot at MVP, but because he has Vegas odds on him: he now has $ 50,000 at the Vegas Sportsbooks, so if you're looking for a shot …
He has an average of 25:59 in the ice age per game and has 16 points in 19 games, which is the peak in the postseason for defenders. And hey, a Conn Smythe would probably add a million to the annual average of his new contract this summer.
The Vegas striker has 16 points in 15 games. Normally this would bring him directly into the conversation for MVP. Alas, he has two linemates in front of him in line.
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Backstrom has scored 16 points in 15 games after recovering in the second round from his hand injury. His two goals and an assist, including the overtime, in Game 3 against the Columbus Blue Jackets set the ball rolling.
"Wild Bill" has six goals and seven assists, including a huge overtime winner 3 against the Sharks in the semifinal of the conference
Kuznetsov leads the playoffs with 24 points in 19 games. That includes 11 goals, one of which was a serial clinching, overtime tally to eliminate the penguins. It's not beyond the possibilities that he could challenge with a great performance in the final for MVP honors.
The most dynamic scorer of the knights in the postseason. He leads the team with eight goals and 18 points. He has two game-critical goals to his credit and was Vegas offensive engine. OK, maybe "The Little Engine That Could" is better.
After the first two posts in the postseason, Holtby has strengthened as the playoffs progress. He has a .923 percentage, after becoming the fifth goalkeeper in NHL history to post back-to-back shutouts in games 6 and 7 in a series like Tampa Bay. He's very much alive in the MVP race, but he's not the captain of the capitals.
While the "Ovechkin Playoff Liability" trope was never right, it's undoubtedly the most effective postseason the star has ever had. Ovechkin has 12 goals and 10 assists in 19 games. He was a factor in three of their four goals against the penguins. He scored in games 1 and 2 against Tampa Bay and a decisive first goal in game 7 decisive goals. When the captains win the trophy, it is believed that he wins Conn Smythe. Unless …
Obviously, with a .947 save percentage – currently the best in the history of the NHL for goalies with at least 15 playoff games – Fleury is the front runner when the Golden Knights win the trophy. But there is a growing sense that he could win or lose with a strong MVP final. There were only five players who won the Conn Smythe Trophy in a loser performance. Four of them were goalkeepers.