The 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have reached the Conference Finals. Accordingly, players are establishing themselves as candidates to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player.
There are several candidates to win MVP as round three gets underway, 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.
Here are the top five players in the race for the NHL’s 2023 postseason MVP through five weeks of playoff hockey.
Who are the leaders in the race for the NHL’s Conn Smythe Trophy?
Mark Stone (VGK) – The captain of the Vegas Golden Knights, Mark Stone is enjoying a strong postseason. His 15 points are tied for the team lead, and he is second among Vegas forwards in ice time.
His leadership and production have the Golden Knights eyeing their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2018.
5. Frederik Andersen, Carolina Hurricanes (Previous Rank: 2)
Frederik Andersen is a tricky player to place on this list. He missed most of the first round and did not play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final (presumably because he played nearly seven full periods in Game 1). In total, Andersen has appeared in only seven games this postseason.
However, he has been the best goaltender in the NHL statistically when he is tending the twine. His 1.65 goals against average and .936 save percentage both lead all goalies. He is a big reason that the Carolina Hurricanes are in the final four, but their 0-2 hole drops him in these rankings.
4. Roope Hintz, Dallas Stars (NR)
Last week, I opted to put Joe Pavelski and his goal-scoring in the top five. This week, I’ll opt for the NHL points leader, Roope Hintz.
With 22 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hintz leads all skaters. He is second overall in both goals (10) and assists (12), and he is seven points clear of all of his Dallas Stars teammates. If the Stars weren’t down 0-2, he would probably be high on this list.
3. Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights (3)
Jack Eichel appeared in the top five last week, so here he is again at number three. The Vegas Golden Knights forward has 15 points in these playoffs, tied for the team lead with Mark Stone. He paces all Golden Knights forwards in ice time, and his plus-8 rating is tied for second.
He’s had a quiet Western Conference Final to this point with only one point in two games, but his team’s 2-0 series advantage gives him an edge over players like Hintz and Andersen.
2. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (5)
Matthew Tkachuk‘s position on this list has fluctuated throughout the last month, but he jumps all the way up to number two this week. Why? Because the offensive star for the Florida Panthers has scored two overtime goals in two games so far in the Eastern Conference Final.
Thanks to his clutch performances in round three, and his overall total of 18 points in these playoffs (tied for third among NHL skaters this spring), his team leads its series against the Carolina Hurricanes, two games to none.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers (1)
Sergei Bobrovsky claimed the top spot on this list for the first time last week and has done nothing to relinquish that position. Not only has he helped the underdog Panthers reach the East Final, but he has also backstopped the Cats to a surprising 2-0 series lead.
The Florida netminder has been lights out since stepping into the crease in the first round, and no game was more impressive than his 63-save performance in the Panthers’ Game 1 4OT win against the Hurricanes.
One could certainly make the case for Tkachuk to claim the number one position on this list, but to me, Bobrovsky has easily been the most important player in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.