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McDavid Tops Odds, but Who’s Best Pick to Win Conn Smythe Trophy?

They say the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy to win. But the Conn Smythe Trophy, which goes to the playoffs MVP, is even harder. Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time, won it just twice in his godly career. And “The Great One” set numerous playoff records and is the all-time leading scorer.
So we cannot consider Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid, the Gretzky of this era, as a lock to win the award per the NHL odds. The Oilers open the Stanley Cup Finals on the road against the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

 

McDavid Tops Odds, but Who’s Best Pick to Win Conn Smythe Trophy?
Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers - Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

Will They Just Hand ‘McJesus’ the Conn Smythe?

McDavid is listed at +225 to win the Conn Smythe, which makes him the favorite” even if his Oilers are the series underdogs (+117). He leads the playoffs in scoring with 31 points in 18 games. More notably, he created the two goals that helped Edmonton close out the Dallas Stars and clinch its first Stanley Cup Final berth in 18 years. So McDavid has a leg up over the field.

Getting 2/1 odds on the world’s best active hockey player seems like a shrewd deal right now. But his buddy, Leon Draisaitl, is not too far behind despite the odds. The Mark Messier to McDavid’s Gretzky is just three points back of McDavid with 28 in 18 games. He’s also doubled McDavid’s goal tally with 10. Draisaitl is listed at +700 to win the award, which is absurd.

 

 

Why McDavid May Not Win the Conn Smythe Trophy

Let us remind everyone that Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s golden boy of the last decade, did not win the Conn Smythe in his first Stanley Cup win. His co-star, Evgeni Malkin, did. And that’s because Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings slowed down Crosby in that series.
Crosby was held to three points in the seven-game Stanley Cup Final. Malkin stepped up and led the Pittsburgh Penguins with eight points. We may see something similar here as the Florida Panthers have captain Aleksander Barkov leading the charge.
Barkov is the Panthers’ leading Conn Smythe Trophy candidate at +400. While his 17 points merely put him ninth in playoff scoring, the voters may consider his defensive impact. The two-way center takes on the opposing team’s best players. And, unlike McDavid or Draisaitl, he also kills penalties.

If the Panthers beat the Oilers, it will likely be due to Barkov slowing down McDavid and/or Draisaitl, especially on special teams. The Oilers lead the playoffs in both the power play (PP) and penalty kill (PK) at 37.3% and 93.9%, respectively.
Edmonton has scored 19 power-play goals and allowed only three. That +16 goal differential on special teams is significantly better than Florida’s.
The Panthers only have a net PP% of 18.3% due to having allowed three short-handed goals. This is an edge Florida needs to overcome and players like Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk (+600), and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (+450) will figure into it.

 

Which Player Can ‘Steal’ the Award?

It’s unlikely but possible that someone other than the ones we listed will win the Conn Smythe. Our eyes are on Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner with whopping NHL lines at +25000. This is a laughable number even if the goaltender has been hot and cold at best. But he was arguably the Western Conference finals MVP.

Skinner stopped all but four of the 76 shots he faced in the last three games against the Stars. In Game 6, he made 33 saves as Edmonton edged Dallas despite getting outshot 34-10. Should Skinner stay hot, it’s not inconceivable to see him snatch that hardware. But it’s on the condition that McDavid is just “okay.” Still, at 250/1, he’s the second- or third-best choice for Edmonton.

For Florida, Sam Bennett at +25000 is worth a look. We’re not saying he’ll win it but there is a chance. Three of his six goals came in the last three games with one of them being the game-winner. Florida is also unbeaten (6-0) when Bennett scores a goal. On top of that, he led the Panthers with four points in last year’s Stanley Cup Final (tied with Brandon Montour). Getting 250/1 is not a bad flier to take.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is up for grabs. So it’s worth betting on any of these players as they have realistic odds of winning despite what the sportsbook has.

 

 

Odds and information are accurate at the time of writing. Please check with official sources for the latest updates before placing any bets.

 

Questions of the Day

Which NHL player has won the most Conn Smythe awards?


Goaltender Patrick Roy has three Conn Smythe awards, which is the most any NHL player has won.

How many players from a losing team have won the Conn Smythe Trophy?


As of the start of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, five players have won the Conn Smythe Trophy despite not winning the cup.

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