The first week of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the books. While very little has been decided at this point, it’s never too early to start looking at candidates to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player.
There are several early candidates, but they can’t all fit into a top five, which is what you’ll see here. To choose just five, I’ll be considering where a player’s team stands in its series, how players compare to their opponents, and what other players on a candidate’s team have contributed.
This list will likely change quite a bit in the coming weeks, as we move into the second round and beyond. But, through the first week, this is the top five in the 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy power rankings.
Who are the early leaders in the race for the Conn Smythe Trophy?
5. Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
No one should be surprised by how well Igor Shesterkin has played in his first-round series. Though his New York Rangers weren’t able to stay perfect in round one, they still maintain a 2-1 series lead over the New Jersey Devils.
Shesterkin has held the Devils to only four goals through three games in this series. His .950 save percentage and 1.26 goals against average lead all goaltenders in this postseason (among those that have started the majority of their teams’ games).
4. Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Last season, Chris Kreider surprised everyone when he scored 52 goals in the regular season. This season was not as productive in that category, but he has regained his scoring touch in these playoffs.
With five goals, Kreider leads all NHL skaters, and with four on the power play, he’s in a position to challenge the NHL’s all-time record for power play goals in one postseason should the New York Rangers make another deep run.
Yes, New York has other key contributors, but Kreider’s goal-scoring has to have him in early Conn Smythe discussions.
3. Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars
This is Roope Hintz‘s fourth trip to the playoffs, and he’s already five points away from a new career high. With eight points so far (four goals and four assists), he has twice as many points as almost all of his teammates and is tied for second among all NHL skaters.
What really stands out for Hintz is his production in wins. In the two games that the Dallas Stars have won in their first-round series, the 26-year-old has tallied seven of his eight points.
The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to the postseason’s most valuable player, and Hintz has clearly been as valuable as any player in the playoffs through the first week.
2. Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner has been on fire offensively. Only one player in the playoffs has more points than the eight that Marner has compiled. He’s notched multiple points in each of the first three games for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He has two goals to go with his team-leading six assists. He is also second on the team in plus-minus (plus-4) and ice time (22:39), and both of those numbers lead Toronto forwards. Without question, the Maple Leafs would not be ahead in their series without Marner’s contributions.
1. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
No player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has more points than Leon Draisaitl. In a series in which Connor McDavid’s presence hasn’t been as noticeable as it was in the regular season, Draisaitl has stepped up and done everything in his power to will his team toward victories.
With three points in Game 4, he helped his Edmonton Oilers pull even with the Los Angeles Kings at two games apiece. Overall, he’s got nine points (five goals and four assists) to necessitate his presence at the top of this list.