25 Worst award snubs in NHL history: 14. Phil Kessel Conn Smythe 2016
Oftentimes, during the playoffs, the voters for the Conn Smythe will focus more on the star player than the player who is performing the best. That was what happened in 2016. The Pittsburgh Penguins were making a run to the Stanley Cup again. They hadn’t been there since winning it all in 2009. That year, Evgeni Malkin earned the Conn Smythe. It’s not a surprise that the team would want to get Sidney Crosby one of those trophies for himself.
Here is the issue; he wasn’t the best player in the playoffs. He also wasn’t the missing piece to the Penguins championship desires. That was Phil Kessel. He came over from the Toronto Maple Leafs, and once he found the right pairing, he was unstoppable. He had 59 points that season, which was third on the team. He was even better in the playoffs.
Kessel led all players with 22 points in the postseason. That was three more than Crosby had. Kessel and Malkin were the reason the Penguins’ power play was lethal in the postseason. He was able to score in every series, and his production never really relented. His worst series was technically against the Capitals, but he had two goals and an assist in the deciding game, making up for everything that came before it.
This Penguins team was a true team with everyone making contributions. That might be why the voters decided to go for Crosby since he was the captain and the star player, but Kessel was the best player in this postseason. That HBK line was unstoppable, and it was a huge reason the Penguins made it to the championship in the first place.