NHL MVP: Who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

June 1, 2023 09:14 AM

NHL MVP: Who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

After three incredible rounds of postseason hockey, the Vegas Golden Knights or the Florida Panthers will be crowned Stanley Cup champions for the first time in franchise history. But which player will be named the MVP? There are several contenders for the Conn Smythe Trophy, but let’s split them into frontrunners and fringe candidates and rank them by their betting value.


Matthew Tkachuk (+290)

The Conn Smythe Trophy, like most of the other awards, is voted on by the writers, so the narrative matters. And, according to polls conducted by ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the narrative favors Matthew Tkachuk right now, as he has garnered more first-place votes. Tkachuk leads all players with 21 points, and four out of his nine goals have been game winners. The Panthers have scored 75 percent of the goals with him on the ice at five-on-five, and his underlying metrics are elite. Florida has owned 60 percent of the shots and 58 percent of the expected goals with Tkachuk on the ice at five-on-five.

The Panthers were a soft team before Tkachuk arrived, and he has been doing it all, both offensively and defensively in the playoffs with a lot of swagger. Voters will put a lot of stock into how he has performed in the clutch, and the legendary way in which he has carried himself throughout the playoffs. Tkachuk has been the spokesperson for the team since the beginning of the playoffs, and when you think of Panthers’ hockey, you think of him.

Jack Eichel (+425)

The consensus is that if the Vegas Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, Jack Eichel is the player that will most likely be named MVP. He leads Vegas in points, but not by a wide margin, and that leaves the door open for another player to outshine him in the Final. His numbers don’t stand out, and he hasn’t done as much to separate himself from his teammates the way Tkachuk has, but he’s been the most consistent scorer on his team.

Watch the Golden Knights play, and you’ll immediately notice him making an impact regardless of where the play is on the ice. Not bad for having no playoff experience prior to this season. Eichel has the highest ceiling of any player on the team, and if he and the Vegas Golden Knights can prove doubters wrong, just one year after missing the playoffs, the votes will come his way. Unless, of course, he is overshadowed by one his linemates in a big way.

Sergei Bobrovsky (+210)

The Panthers wouldn’t be in the Stanley Cup Final without Bobrovsky, and his .935 save percentage puts him on a path to join past Conn Smythe winners Tim Thomas, Jonathan Quick, as well as the most recent winner, Andrei Vasilevskiy. But it’s not going to be easy for him to maintain his save percentage in the Final, and that’s what he’s going to have to do to win the award.

Only three goaltenders have won the award since 2011, and not many have been able to maintain the level of play we’ve seen from ‘Playoff Bob’. I think there’s a better chance that Bobrovsky will cool off than there is that he will stay hot. If you have a bet on Bobrovsky at long odds from earlier in the postseason, great, but if he has one bad game there will likely be a new favorite to win the award.

Fringe Candidates

Adin Hill (12/1)

After toiling away for years in Arizona and San Jose, Adin Hill has made good on his first opportunity to play for a contender, when it matters. According to Evolving Hockey, Bobrovsky has saved his team more than twice as many goals as Adin Hill has, but the 27-year-old goaltender has a slightly better save percentage (.937) than Bobrovsky and he shutout the Stars twice in the Western Conference final. Hill didn’t play in the first round, though, and like Bobrovsky, he’s going to have to maintain his level of play to be considered the MVP.

Jonathan Marchessault (7/1)

No player has shot the puck more than Marchessault, who is second on the Vegas Golden Knights in goals with nine, and he’s just one behind his linemate, Jack Eichel, for the team lead in points. The Golden Knights have scored 78 percent of the goals when Marchessault has been on the ice at five-on-five, and they’ve enjoyed a 58 percent edge in expected goals. He also has a strong narrative: Florida gave Marchessault (and teammate Reilly Smith) away for nothing in the expansion draft all those years ago and now he has a chance to make them pay for it.

William Karlsson (7/1)

Karlsson leads the Golden Knights in goals with 10, and the Golden Knights have outscored teams 3.9 – 1.4 with him on the ice at five-on-five, but his on-ice peripherals aren’t nearly as good as his teammates. Vegas has owned just 48 percent of the expected goals with Karlsson on the ice in the playoffs due to fact that he’s deployed in more of a defensive role. Karlsson plays on the penalty kill and starts most of his shifts in the defensive zone. He’s in the running, but he’ll have to do a lot of scoring to become a front runner.


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