It is time again for the NHL Power Rankings and the 2020 Conn Smythe Watch. We not only have a new leader at the top this week, but also a new contender making a strong push and rapid climb in the rankings.
Tampa’ Brayden Point takes over the No. 1 spot this week, jumping over Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen, as he has helped the Lightning get to within a win of the Stanley Cup Final.
Also making an appearance this week for the first time is Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin.
Who else makes this week’s NHL Power Rankings list?
To the rankings!
1. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. He has at least one point in all but two of his games this postseason, and in one of those two games he only played eight minutes before leaving with injury. He has six multi-point games, two-game winning goals (both in overtime, including one series-clincher) and has been the best and most impactful player on a team that is one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
2. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars. After a long run at the top Heiskanen drops down one spot. That drop has more to do with what the guy now ahead of him has done recently than anything Heiskanen has or has not done. He is still the best overall defenseman going in the playoffs and the best skater on the Dallas roster.
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
3. Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars. The Conn Smythe Trophy tends to weigh the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final over everything that happens in the first two rounds, and that is what gives Khudobin such a huge jump. After being solid, and at times really good, in the First and Second Rounds, Khudobin has gone into superman mode in the Western Conference Final. He is the single the biggest reason, and maybe the only reason, the Stars are so close to advancing. Without him standing on his head over the first four games of this series it might already be over in Vegas’ favor. Entering Monday’s Game 5 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN; livestream), he has a .952 save percentage against the Golden Knights, while the Stars have won three games by a single goal. The Stars have scored 1, 3, and 2 goals in those wins. Goaltending is the difference.
4. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. Kucherov and Point have been a nearly unstoppable duo offensively for the Lightning, and it is because of their dominance that the team has been able to overcome the absence of Steven Stamkos. He has averaged two points per game over his past eight games.
5. Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights. Consistently the most impressive skater in the Vegas lineup, Theodore has been a top offensive threat from the blue line and also helped control the pace of every game when he is on the ice. Their best overall player at the moment.
[NHL Conference Final schedule]
6. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars. He has been productive, timely, and quite honestly looked like the Jamie Benn of old. He has some fierce Conn Smythe competition within his own team, however.
7. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning. At one point he had a goal in four consecutive games this postseason for the Lightning. He does not tend to get as many headlines as the forwards, but he is arguably the engine that makes this machine run every season. He is one of the best all-around players in hockey.
8. Brock Nelson, New York Islanders. He took a beating in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final series only to come back in Game 3 and score a huge game-winning goal to keep the Islanders in the series. He has been one of their top offensive players throughout the postseason.
9. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning. Palat is making a late push for the way he has played over the past two rounds. Since the start of the Second Round he has 11 points in nine games, including eight goals.
10. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders. He is usually the most noticeable Islanders forward, and with 15 points in 20 games has also been one of their most productive. He has had a really strong playoff run and continues to establish himself as the foundational piece for the Islanders organization moving forward.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.