We here at VHN enjoy discussing the types of topics that engender debate over beverages with friends. With Game Six tonight and the Tampa Bay Lightning able to claim Lord Stanley’s Cup tonight, it seems like a good time to look at who could end up winning the Conn Smythe trophy as NHL playoff MVP.
Keep in mind our Dallas selections could change a bit over the next few days if the Stars somehow manage to win it in seven. One argument I cannot back is (for example) Tyler Seguin scores two overtime winners for the Stars and they hoist the Cup. Seguin is not my NHL playoff MVP and there’s no scenario that makes him so. Please don’t come at me with something like that. It takes four rounds to win the Stanley Cup.
If Tampa Wins:
Victor Hedman – D
Hedman has 10 goals and 21 points in the playoffs so far to go with a nice plus-13 rating. He’s been incredibly good in his own end, and is providing offense at a record-setting pace from the blue line. What really impresses me is his Goals/60 numbers. At even strength, Hedman is an impressive .900 – but on the power play that number balloons to an incredible 2.970. Averaging almost three goals per 60 minutes of power play time is amazing, but so is working at almost a goal per 60 minutes of even strength. Only Brayden Point’s PP numbers are close at 2.799.
Brayden Point – F
Nikita Kucherov – F
If you’re going with a forward for my money it has to be one of these two guys. Kucherov has led the team in assists (26) and points (33) so far, and in my opinion has been Tampa’s best offensive player. The reason I put Point with him on here is because his 13 goals tops the Bolts and his 32 points sits just one behind Kucherov. At times, it’s almost impossible to separate the two because they thrive off each other to a great extent. If I had to lean one way or the other, I think Kucherov’s overall game gives him the edge.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – G
The goalie always warrants a look, but I don’t think Vasi wins this year through no fault of his own. Unless he manages to pitch a shutout in the clincher, he just won’t get the attention he deserves. Very quietly almost, he’s won 17 of his 24 games so far with a 1.97 GAA and .925 save percentage. What’s even more impressive is his Goals Saved Above Average (which has actually come down slightly this round) of 6.05. By way of comparison, Anton Khudobin’s GSAA is sitting at 0.40 entering Game Six. Again, an underrated playoff performance that really deserves more attention.
If Dallas Wins:
Anton Khudobin – G
Seriously, Dallas is not here if Khudobin doesn’t go on the run he’s currently on. While the numbers don’t seem that impressive at 14-9 with a .917 save percentage and 2.72 GAA, he’s come up with the big save at the right time. That right there is a major reason why Dallas still breathes. Keep in mind, this is the Most Valuable Player, not the Best Statistical Player. It’s hard to measure exactly what Khudobin has done in numbers except win. Dallas has won with him, and wouldn’t be here without him.
Joe Pavelski – F
Pavelski scored a historic goal when he tied Game Five for Dallas. The marker was his 61st career playoff tally, moving him into sole possession of first place among American-born playoff goal scorers. He broke a tie with Joe Mullen, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with Calgary (89) and Pittsburgh (91, 92). Scoring 13 goals and 19 points in the playoffs has been critical for Dallas, especially with the aforementioned Seguin’s disappearance from the scoresheet. Of all the Stars forwards, he’s been the closest to consistent in production for a team that at times has struggled to score goals.
Miro Heiskanen – D
Entering the Final if Dallas won you would have had a hard time persuading me to give the Conn Smythe to someone else. Heiskanen has had a real coming out party in the playoffs this season, leading all defensemen in scoring with 26 points. At one point it seemed like he was everywhere for the Stars in both ends of the rink. But in the Final, he’s struggled a little not only to find the score sheet but in his own end as well. Whatever the case, unless Heiskanen was to post big games back-to-back and Dallas wins, he’s dropped to third on my list.
What do you think? Who are your NHL playoff MVP winners for Dallas and Tampa? Let us know in the comments!