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Round 1

Conn Smythe Trophy candidates

MVP from each team in Stanley Cup Playoffs identified

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

Before Commissioner Gary Bettman hands the Stanley Cup to the captain or alternate captain of the winning team, he'll award the Conn Smythe Trophy to the most valuable player of the postseason.

Will it be a veteran who's won it before, a rookie making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut or a player who had a surprising postseason run?

Here's a look at who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy for each of the 16 teams in the playoffs:


Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak

The Bruins' top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak has caused fits for opposing teams all season and it should be no different in the playoffs. If Boston wins the Cup, it likely would be one of them getting the Conn Smythe. Pastrnak had 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in two rounds (12 games) last postseason.

Second choice: Brad Marchand


Calgary Flames: Sean Monahan

If the Flames' remarkable season ends with a Stanley Cup championship, Monahan, the heart and soul of the team, will be MVP. The center had NHL career highs in goals (34), assists (48) and points (82) this season and has had at least 22 goals in each of his six NHL seasons. It would be fitting for Monahan, who played through numerous injuries last season even with the Flames eliminated from playoff contention.

Second choice: Mark Giordano

Video: CGY@SJS: Monahan nets backdoor feed from Gaudreau


Carolina Hurricanes: Justin Williams

How fitting would it be for Commissioner Bettman to hand the Conn Smythe Trophy to Williams before presenting him with the Stanley Cup? Williams, or "Mr. Game 7" as he's known for his 7-1 record and League-tying seven goals in Game 7s, won the Conn Smythe in 2014 with the Los Angeles Kings (25 points in 26 games) and the 37-year-old forward is the only player on the Hurricanes who was on their Cup-winning team in 2006.

Second choice: Jordan Staal


Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog

The Avalanche captain makes up for lost time in the regular season when he missed three weeks with an upper-body injury by tearing it up in the postseason. Landeskog is reunited with center Nathan MacKinnon and forward Mikko Rantanen and the trio clicks all the way to the Cup Final.

Second choice: Tyson Barrie


Columbus Blue Jackets: Artemi Panarin

The Blue Jackets' most consistent forward all season continues his strong surge in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and scores numerous big goals to help Columbus win its first playoff series, before winning three more for the Cup. Panarin, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, may leave Columbus, but he does so as a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner.

Second choice: Cam Atkinson

Video: CBJ@NYR: Panarin whips home shootout goal


Dallas Stars: Ben Bishop

Bishop, who could very well be a Vezina Trophy finalist, was a huge reason the Stars were one of the best defensive teams in the League this year and will be a big factor in keeping them in games during the playoffs. He's been to the Final before as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 but came out on the losing side. This time, he gets two pieces of hardware.

Second choice: Alexander Radulov


Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne

If the Predators advance to the Western Conference Final, they'll have to get by some high-powered offenses, including two of the Blues, Stars or Jets. That alone would mean the defense and goaltending would have to be excellent. Winning two more rounds would virtually guarantee Rinne was the best player for the Predators.

Second choice: Filip Forsberg

Video: NSH@BUF: Rinne stacks pads to rob Eichel


New York Islanders: Anders Lee

Named captain after John Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent on July 1, Lee had 28 goals this season after 40 and 34 the past two seasons. His only taste of playoff hockey came in 2015 when he had one assist in five games. He'll have a much bigger impact this time around.

Second choice: Mathew Barzal


Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby

If the Penguins win the Stanley Cup for the third time in four seasons, Crosby likely will take home the hardware for the third time as well. He won it in 2016 with 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 24 games and again in 2017 with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 24 games. Crosby would join Patrick Roy as the only three-time winners in NHL history.

Second choice: Jake Guentzel


St. Louis Blues: Ryan O'Reilly

The most consistent player all season on each side of the puck for the Blues has been the newcomer O'Reilly, who had NHL career highs in assists (49), points (77) and plus-minus (plus-22). He is one of the top face-off men in the NHL, plays in all situations and will be a key factor for the Blues.

Second choice: Vladimir Tarasenko

Video: VAN@STL: O'Reilly roofs pretty backhand goal in SO


San Jose Sharks: Erik Karlsson

Although he missed 17 of the final 18 games of the regular season with a groin injury, Karlsson was adamant that he would return for the playoffs. He had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 53 games this season and had 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 19 games in his previous trip to the playoffs (2017 with the Ottawa Senators). Karlsson will make up for lost time and be a point-per game player again this postseason.

Second choice: Logan Couture


Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos

Stamkos very quietly had a great season with 98 points (45 goals, 53 assists), an NHL career high for points and the most goals since he had 60 in 2011-12. The Lightning have been to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the past four seasons and four of the past eight. Stamkos will edge out teammate Nikita Kucherov, who finished the regular season with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists), for the award.

Second choice: Nikita Kucherov


Toronto Maple Leafs: John Tavares

His first season in Toronto was a career one. Tavares finished third in the League with 47 goals and had an NHL career-high 88 points. He will undoubtedly be a huge part of Toronto ending its 52-year Cup drought.

Second choice: Auston Matthews

Video: CAR@TOR: Tavares knocks in own rebound for PPG


Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-Andre Fleury

The goalie likely would have won the Conn Smythe had the first-year Golden Knights defeated the Capitals in the Final last season instead of losing in five games. He was 13-7 with a 2.24 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and four shutouts. He's been just as good during this regular season with 35 wins and eight shutouts.

Second choice: Mark Stone


Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom has had six-straight seasons with at least 50 assists and 70 points and was Washington's third-leading scorer in the playoffs last season with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists), behind Evgeny Kuznetsov (32) and Alex Ovechkin (27). Ovechkin took home the Conn Smythe last season, but this year Backstrom gets it.

Second choice: Alex Ovechkin


Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele

The Jets have plenty of offensive weapons including Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor, but it's Scheifele, who had 14 goals in 17 playoff games last season, including an NHL-record seven on the road in the Western Conference Second Round against the Predators, who wins MVP. He gets 18 goals, including four game-winners to bring the Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1993.

Second choice: Blake Wheeler

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