The second round of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is about halfway completed. Accordingly, it’s a great time 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 the 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 complete the second round and set sights on the Conference Finals. But, through the first three weeks, this is the top five in the 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy power rankings.
Who are the leaders in the race for the NHL’s Conn Smythe Trophy?
Sergei Bobrovsky (FLA) – When the two-time Vezina Trophy winner was inserted into the lineup in round one, he struggled at first. However, he was a big part of their first-round upset, and he’s been spectacular in round two, helping to give his team a 3-0 series lead.
Evan Bouchard (EDM) – With 14 points in these playoffs, Bouchard leads all defensemen in points. He is fourth in the NHL in scoring, and if not for the magic of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, he’d be a much bigger story this spring.
5. Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars (Last Week: 1)
Hintz is still among the top scorers in the playoffs, but he has been quiet in the second round against the Seattle Kraken. Still, his contributions in round one are the main reason the Dallas Stars moved on, and if he can pick it up a little, he’ll get them back in this series too.
He fell this week because other players around the NHL have stepped up, but he stays on this list because he has still been the most effective player for the Stars.
4. Philipp Grubauer, Seattle Kraken (4)
Philipp Grubauer wasn’t great in the first two games against the Stars, but he helped the Seattle Kraken get through round one, and he was solid in Sunday’s Game 3. I didn’t expect him to be the better goalie in the matchup with Jake Oettinger, but he certainly has been.
The Kraken have so much depth that no one skater stands out above the rest in these playoffs, which also helps keep Grubauer in the fourth position.
3. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (5)
Matthew Tkachuk has racked up 15 points so far this postseason, which is tied for second among NHL skaters. He has five more points than any other Florida Panthers skater, and his four points in three games against the Toronto Maple Leafs have helped the Cats go ahead three games to none.
Tkachuk has been Florida’s offensive catalyst all year, and at second (tied) in the playoffs in assists, he has continued to drive the Panthers offense.
2. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (2)
Connor McDavid also has 15 points in these playoffs, including five points in two games in the Edmonton Oilers’ second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. He has recorded an incredible six straight multi-point games to help him maintain a high ranking on this list.
This has become commonplace for McDavid, but it’s unbelievably impressive, and the Oilers have needed every point so far this spring.
1. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (3)
There has only been one game in these playoffs in which Leon Draisaitl has not scored a goal. He’s got four multi-goal efforts, including a four-goal game in Game 1 against Vegas. In total, Draisaitl has a mind-boggling 13 goals already.
The Conn Smythe Trophy isn’t all about goal-scoring, but when a player has 13 goals (and 17 points) in only eight games, he has to be number one on the list of potential playoff MVPs.