Skip to Main Content
Conn Smythe Trophy

Fleury, Ovechkin, Scheifele among early Conn Smythe Trophy candidates staff members pick playoff MVP at halfway point of postseason @NHLdotcom

There have been some impressive individual performances during the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there is one Conn Smythe Trophy, which is awarded to the most valuable player of the postseason after the Stanley Cup Final.

With two rounds down and two to go, staff members weighed in on who is leading the race for the Conn Smythe Trophy at the midway point of the playoffs.


Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas Golden Knights

There isn't a player who has had a bigger impact on his team's success than Fleury, who is looking to win the Cup for the third straight season (he was part of the Pittsburgh Penguins' championship teams the previous two seasons). He is 8-2 with a .951 save percentage, a 1.53 goals-against average and four shutouts. The Golden Knights scored seven goals in the first round and swept the Los Angeles Kings because Fleury allowed three. He had a .934 save percentage, 2.14 GAA and two shutouts in six games against the San Jose Sharks in the second round. This might be the best Fleury ever has played. -- Dan Rosen, senior writer

Fleury arrived in Vegas last June as the face of the newest NHL franchise, a three-time Stanley Cup-winner with the Penguins who would anchor what was expected to be a competitive expansion team. All he's done is go 8-2 through two rounds of the playoffs and lead the League in shutouts (four), save percentage (.951) and goals-against average (1.53). Beyond his stellar statistics, Fleury's poise has played a huge role in the Golden Knights' success; his quiet calm in net has instilled an unwavering confidence in his teammates. -- Dave Stubbs, columnist

Sure, Fleury's numbers are eye-popping, but it's the flair with which he's accrued them that's most impressive. His cache of spectacular saves has injected the Golden Knights with the type of confidence that's been infectious through the first two rounds. No player's influence has been stronger on his team than Fleury's. Each time he steps into the crease, this expansion team doesn't consider itself to be one. -- Mike Zeisberger, staff writer


Video: SJS@VGK, Gm5: Fleury reaches back with glove for save


This is an easy choice. There has been no one standout to me other than Fleury, the all-everything goaltender for the team that wasn't really supposed to be here. In leading the Golden Knights to the Western Conference Final, Fleury has allowed 17 goals in 10 games, and has lost twice through two rounds in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Two of his four shutouts came in Game 1 of a series, and the other two came in series-clinching games. Combine that with his .951 save percentage and 1.53 goals-against average, and those, simply, are MVP numbers. -- Amalie Benjamin, staff writer

No one has made a bigger difference during the playoffs than Fleury. Twice he has had a chance to close a series, and twice he has had a shutout. He has made big saves at big times, like when he robbed San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture with his glove during overtime of a 4-3 win in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round, and he's kept his teammates loose with his fun-loving personality. -- Nick Cotsonika, columnist

Fleury, 33, is turning back the clock and producing career-best numbers during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Beyond his remarkable statistics, the smile never seems to leave his face and his sunny attitude has set the tone for his Golden Knights teammates in the dressing room. -- Lisa Dillman, staff writer



Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals

Of the skaters remaining in the playoffs, Ovechkin, 32, is second in goals (eight, three behind Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele) and is tied with Jets forward Blake Wheeler for the second-most points (15), one behind Scheifele. In helping the Capitals reach the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998, Ovechkin has excelled in big moments. In the second round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, he scored the winning goal with 1:07 remaining in the third period of Game 3, set up Jakub Vrana's winning goal with 4:38 left in the third in Game 5, and assisted on Evgeny Kuznetsov's series-clinching overtime goal in Game 6. -- Tom Gulitti, staff writer


Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

Kucherov is a world-class talent who is appreciated for his hard work and offensive ability, and he always seems to relish his role in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He leads Tampa Bay in goals (six), points (12), game-winning goals (three), shots on goal (41) and points per game (1.20), and is second among Lightning forwards in average ice time (18:03). The Lightning control 50.40 percent of shot attempts at even strength with Kucherov on the ice. He's the best offensive player on arguably the deepest offense among the remaining four teams. -- Mike G. Morreale, staff writer


Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals

Holtby didn't start his first game in the playoffs this year until Game 3 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he's been the driving force for the Capitals since. The 28-year-old is 8-3 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. He allowed 13 goals on 164 shots (.921 save percentage) in the second round against the Penguins. Holtby has been calm and dependable, and he's a big reason why the Capitals are in the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in 20 years -- Tracey Myers, staff writer

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm6: Holtby stops redirection by Crosby


Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets

Scheifele has been a beast during the playoffs. He leads all scorers with 11 goals, and his 16 points are the most among players who remain in the chase for the Stanley Cup. Centering a line with Wheeler and rookie Kyle Connor, Scheifele, 25, scored seven goals on the road against the Nashville Predators in the second round, setting a playoff record for most road goals in a series. Scheifele is a better skater than many think, he's got a shot that's hard to handle -- check out his one-timer with 2:10 remaining in the second period of Game 7 against the Predators -- and his two-way game has grown immensely this season. -- Tim Campbell, staff writer


Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final Coverage

Lightning vs. Capitals

Jets vs. Golden Knights

View More