In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we take an updated look at the Conn Smythe Trophy race as the Stanley Cup Final gets under way.
With two teams remaining the list of potential candidates is entirely Lightning and Canadiens players, with each team’s starting goalie near the top of the list.
Carey Price would seem to be the front-runner at this point given how he has helped drive this stunning run for the Canadiens, but Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point and Andrei Vasilevskiy are also right there as favorites.
Who leads the Conn Smythe Trophy race in this week’s NHL Power Rankings?
To the NHL Power Rankings!
1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. If Montreal actually makes this happen and wins the Stanley Cup it is hard to imagine anybody other than Price winning the Conn Smythe. Adding that and a Cup to his resume is going to make him a slam dunk Hall of Famer. He has been great this entire postseason, but the most incredible statistic might be the .952 save percentage he has in shorthanded situations. That is driving an historic penalty kill for the Canadiens in the playoffs and is a huge part of their success.
2. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored a goal in nine consecutive games and is leading the league in playoff goal scoring for the second year in a row. His playoff goal scoring for his career is among the all-time greats. A magnificent player and another star for the Lightning.
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning. The best goalie in hockey, and he is playing like it. He also has an NHL record with shutouts in four consecutive series-clinching games, which is absurd. The Lightning have relied on him to win games a little more often than their run a year ago, and he has been up to the challenge. Great, durable, clutch. Everything you want in a goalie. The Conn Smythe would be another individual honor to add to his trophy collection.
[NHL ON NBC STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
4. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning. He is leading the league in postseason scoring and again making a huge impact offensively. He is helping to drive a historic power play performance by the Lightning as they have converted on nearly 38% of their attempts.
In The Discussion
5. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens. Montreal’s most consistent player all season offensively and its leading scorer in the playoffs. He has two game-winning goals, including a series-clincher, this postseason.
6. Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning. He is not having his best season, but he is still great and plays a crucial position on the roster. He is logging 25 minutes a night on defense in all situations and averaging nearly an assist per game. The reigning Conn Smythe winner, he would be the rare player to win it two years in a row. Bernie Parent, Mario Lemieux, and Sidney Crosby are the only players since 1965 to accomplish it.
[Lightning vs. Canadiens: 2021 Stanley Cup Final Preview]
7. Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens. He is quickly blossoming into a star and an impact player. He was a game-changer in the semifinals and a repeat performance in the Cup Final could rocket him up the rankings. Especially if Montreal keeps winning.
8. Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens. Suzuki was Montreal’s most impressive forward in the bubble a year ago and he has followed it up with a great sophomore season and playoff. He is one of Montreal’s key building blocks for the future and one of their most important players right now.
The Wild Cards and Underdogs
9. Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lighting. He does not get a lot of headlines given all of the star power in Tampa Bay, but he is having a wonderful postseason. He enters the final with 17 points in 18 games and has been one of the top scorers in the league.
[Stanley Cup Final Roundtable: Series difference, why each team can win]
10. Phillip Danault, Montreal Canadiens. He has no goals and three assists, so seeing him anywhere near the discussion might be a shock. Maybe you think it is nuts. But Danault’s impact is so much more than his offensive contributions. He has played an absolutely massive role in helping the Canadiens stop Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. That group has four goals in 17 games against Montreal in the playoffs. That is worth a lot.
2021 NHL playoff schedule: Stanley Cup Final – series livestream link
Game 1: Mon. June 28: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 2: Wed. June 30: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 3: Fri. July 2: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
Game 4: Mon. July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 5: Wed. July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 6: Fri. July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
*Game 7: Sun. July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (NBC)
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.