UNITED STATES—With the regular season nearing completion, the race for Conn Smythe Trophy Begins.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to one player determined to be the most valuable asset amongst his teammates. The player chosen will usually be a member of the team who wins the Stanley Cup. That tournament is currently just finishing up its second round before the semifinals. It won’t be long now until we know which team will go on to win the Stanley Cup, but it’s fun to speculate on what will happen next, too!
History of the Conn Smythe Trophy
The Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) each year since the 1964-1965 season. It was named after the longtime owner, general manager, and head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fifty-three trophies have been presented to 46 different players over the years.
The Conn Smythe trophy has several differences from other major sporting trophies awarded within the NHL and other major US league sports. Firstly, only the winner is named – there is no ceremony, no shortlists or alternate finalists.
In addition, the playoff Most Valuable Player awards presented in the World Series MVP, Super Bowl MVP, NBA Finals MVP and MLS Cup MVP, the Conn Smythe is assessed on the entire performance history of each player during the whole of the NHL postseason, instead of just the championship game or series.
This second difference arguably makes the postseason of the NHL just as thrilling as the main tournament, because there is a strong incentive for players to perform at their best throughout every postseason game. The postseason in each of the other sports are (perhaps fairly) viewed as being less important than the actual championship games.
To be awarded the Conn Smythe trophy demonstrates a level of commitment to both your performance and your team that the other MVP awards do not. It is for this reason that the Conn Smythe is one of the most treasured pieces of silverware amongst professional athletes in major US sports.
Who are the favorites to claim the 2021 trophy?
The major US bookmakers are all in reasonably close alignment this year, with Unibet IN offering the best prices for a victory by each of the favorite candidates based on their performances during the Stanley Cup so far. It’s interesting to note that not only is incumbent Victor Hedman just outside the +0-1499 range classified as a “favorite”, there are no previous Conn Smythe winners amongst Unibet’s top contenders whatsoever.
While this is not a completely unusual scenario, we do often see some of the most elite players appearing amongst the favorites in consecutive years. Of particular note are Sidney Crosby, who won the trophy in back-to-back seasons between 2016-2017. This was the first time this had happened since legendary player Mario Lemieux back in 1992. It has also only happened once before too, in 1974/1975 by Bernie Parent.
So, who are Unibet’s top picks and prices for the 2021 Conn Smyth Trophy?
Current Price Player Name Regular Position
+285 Nathan MacKinnon Center Colorado Avalanche
+400 Andrei Vasielevskiy Goaltender Tampa Bay Lightning
+550 Marc-Andre Fleury Goaltender Pittsburgh Penguins
+650 Nikita Kucherov Right Wing Tampa Bay Lightning
+900 Carey Price Goaltender Montreal Canadiens
+1150 Mark Stone Right Wing Vegas Golden Knights
+1300 Semyon Varlamov Goaltender New York Islanders
+1400 Brayden Point Center / Left Wing Tampa Bay Lightning
+1500 Victor Hedman Defense Tampa Bay Lightning
+1500 Jonathan Marchessault Center Vegas Golden Knights
+1600 Philipp Grubauer Goaltender Colorado Avalanche
+2000 Max Pacioretty Left Wing Vegas Golden Knights
+2000 Mikko Rantanen Right Wing Colorado Avalanche
+2000 Steven Stamkos Center Tampa Bay Lightning
As ever, we see a strong showing from Tampa Bay Lightning. With five players making a showing inside the +2000 bracket this year, including three within the elusive <1,500 range.
And, just to add….
Although the bookmakers are very good at what they do, there’s nothing to say that Victor Hedman or another player from lower down the list of forty-two total players listed couldn’t make a surprise grab for victory. That’s the excitement of US sports, after all – with so much scoring, the stakes are always high, and the prestigious nature of the Conn Smythe means that there is still everything to play for!