The second round is just beginning in one series while it appears to be on the verge of ending in another.
The Boston Bruins hold a 3-0 stranglehold advantage on the Carolina Hurricanes, and while it’s not impossible that the Hurricanes forge a come back, history tells us those 3-0 comebacks are distinctly rare.
On the west side, things are about to get interesting between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues as the series is tied at one heading back to St. Louis for Wednesday night’s Game 3.
With just four teams remaining and likely just three in short order, the Conn Smythe picks are becoming slim. That said, what a player does in the Stanley Cup Final goes a long way towards his Conn Smythe candidacy as the postseason’s MVP.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some players who hold value to win the Conn Smythe at their current odds that the NHL betting sites have released.
Keep in mind these odds change by the night depending on the outcome of a given night’s action, so hop on these odds immediately if you like these plays.
Erik Karlsson (SJ): +900
Karlsson put on a show in the Senators’ run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2017 and was easily the front runner for the Conn Smythe trophy before Chris Kunitz buried the Game 7 overtime winner to send the Penguins to the final and not the Senators.
Clearly, the guy has the ability to take over a series and while his current game may not be up to snub as it was during the aforementioned playoff run, he hasn’t exactly been quiet in these playoffs, either.
In fact, Karlsson has 13 assists in these playoffs, leading all skaters in this postseason and he could become the first defenseman to post at least 20 assists in a single playoff run since Brian Leetch posted 23 in the Rangers’ ‘94 Stanley Cup run.
He hasn’t scored a goal yet in the playoffs, but he’s logging 25:25 of ice time per game and has held his own defensively as well, which is by far the biggest weakness in his game.
Of course, the biggest roadblock to Karlsson’s Conn Smythe chances is teammate Brent Burns who is enjoying quite the postseason himself. Burns has five goals and 15 points in 16 postseason contests, the latter of which ranks third in the playoffs. Burns is also logging 28:46 which leads the postseason.
However, with Burns are +500 to win the award, I like the value with Karlsson. If San Jose goes on to win the Stanley Cup, they will have to play a minimum of seven more games. A lot can happen in seven games.
For instance, what if Karlsson scores an overtime winner in this series and another in the final? That would likely put him ahead of Burns and possibly teammate Logan Couture as well, but with Couture at +275 I’m not seeing a ton of value there, either.
He has the ability to take over a game, he looks stronger than ever after dealing with a gron issue for much of the second half of the season, and he is leading all players in assists in these playoffs.
It’s going to take more, but if Karlsson can deliver some dramatic moments in the remainder of these playoffs I believe he will have a legitimate shot at this prestigious award.
Jordan Binnington (STL): +1000
If you are a goaltender in the final four it means you are having a nice postseason and if the regular season showed us anything, Binnington has the ability to steal a series.
He and his Blues teammates looked overmatched in their Game 1 loss in San Jose in the Western Conference Final, but both he and his mates bounced back in Game 2 with a 4-2 win.
I wouldn’t say that Binnington is having a fabulous postseason to this point, but rather a solid one with a 2.54 GAA and .909 Sv% across 15 games heading into Wednesday night’s Game 3 on home ice. However, there is plenty of time remaining in the playoffs and if Binnington goes on a roll and steals some games for his club he most certainly has the ability to take this thing home.
He may not yet be the postseason MVP, but he was the Blues’ regular season MVP has their turnaround began when he started getting the bulk of the action in goal over Jake Allen.
Binnington took the crease on January 7th and didn’t really look back, posting a shutout in that game and allowing just two goals combined over his last two. He finished the month of January with a .936 Sv%, but also went on to post a .945 mark in February while going 10-1-0 in the process as the Blues’ surge up the standings really caught notice.
We knew the postseason would be a whole new ball game for the rookie, and it has been. His postseason numbers fall notably under the ridiculous 1.89 GAA and .927 Sv% he played across 32 regular season appearances (30 starts), but he definitely displayed the ability to catch fire, and if he does so over the next few weeks we could be nothing serious value with a Conn Smythe in his hands by postseason’s end.
Joe Thornton (SJ): +1500
Now, this one is a little different as I’m not suggesting Thornton has and will be the best performer in these playoffs, but I wonder if there is a chance he could sneak into this conversation given his long wait for Lord Stanley.
That’s not to say that Thornton has been invisible as we need to keep in mind he bounced back with a solid 51 points in 73 regular season games before tallying seven points in 15 postseason games so far while playing on recently surgically repaired knees.
There is little doubt in my mind that this will be the final chance he has to win the Cup as those knees and his age of 39 (he would start next season at 40) along with the wear and tear of 1,566 regular season games and 175 playoff games (so far) will force him into retirement in the offseason.
As a result, I wonder if the Sharks would quietly petition for this award to go to Jumbo Joe if they win the Stanley Cup. There’s no doubt he’s earned it.
Here are some of the all-time ranks Thornton currently sits with in the regular season:
- 12th in games played (1,566)
- 8th in assists (1,065)
- 14th in points (1,478)
He has 130 points in 175 postseason games to boot.
Out of respect for Thornton and his long quest to win the Cup, I seriously wonder if the Sharks will ensure that he wins this award behind the scenes.
At +1500 odds, I’m willing to take that chance.