Every year at this time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, talks of who the favorites to win the Conn Smythe from each team begin to happen and predictions are made.
Instead of doing who my favorite for each team is, this is my list of who the dark horses of each team still in the playoffs to win the Conn Smythe are.
Nashville: Austin Watson
Watson is a depth player for the Predators, however he is tied with Ryan Johansen and Colton Scissions for second in points in the playoffs on Nashville.
In the first round, Watson’s 4 goals and 3 assists helped the Predators advance in six games over the Avalanche. If Watson can continue these numbers, he could be looking at some votes for the Conn Smythe.
Vegas: James Neal
With Fleury being an obvious favorite with his unbelievable stats so far, if I had to pick anyone to come alive and help Vegas win a cup, it would be James Neal.
Neal is a veteran with a ton of playoff experience from the Penguins and Predators, and has the ability to score.
With just 2 goals and 2 assists so far, I could definitely see Neal hitting a hot streak.
Winnipeg: Dustin Byfuglien
Connor Hellebuyck has had an incredible playoff performance thus far, making me believe he would win the Conn Smythe.
However, Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has made sure his presence is felt.
Byfuglien leads the league in hits with 32 hits, and has shown that he can be a contributor to the offense, with 1 goal and 6 assists in seven games.
San Jose: Joe Pavelski
After a 4-3 double overtime win in Vegas in Game 2, San Jose has to be feeling good heading home for Games 3 and 4.
Pavelski has had another solid post season so far, with 1 goal and 6 assists in six games, With Evander Kane returning to the lineup in Game 3, Pavelski could hit a hot streak. This is exactly what the Sharks need to beat Vegas.
Tampa Bay: Alex Killorn
Killorn did not receive much attention due to being on the Tampa Bay Lightning who has numerous super stars, however in six games Killorn has 4 goals and 1 assist and is third on the team in points.
With Kucherov and Stamkos not necessarily on a scoring streak, Tampa Bay will need other players to put pucks in the net, along with Andrei Vasilevskiy playing up to his abilities.
Washington: Braden Holtby
Holtby is the reason the Capitals are even still playing in my opinion.
After coming in to relieve Grubauer in the first round, Holtby has a 1.95 goals against average, and a save percentage of .932.
If the Capitals were to win the Stanley Cup, I see Ovechkin getting the Conn Smythe, but I feel like Holtby would ultimately deserve it.
Boston: Jake DeBrusk
Jake DeBrusk is a rookie. However in eight games, he is averaging 1 point per game, with 6 goals and 2 assists, including 2 goals in a Game 7 win against Toronto.
With Pastrnak receiving a lot of attention for his 5 goals and 12 assists, if DeBrusk can continue this streak (which reminds me somewhat of Tyler Seguin’s breakout post season run), then he could be receiving some votes for the Conn Smythe.
Pittsburgh: Jake Guentzel
It has to be hard to win any individual awards when you are on the same team as Sidney Crosby.
However, in eight games, Crosby has 7 goals and 8 assists, while Guentzel has 7 goals and 10 assists.
By no means am I saying I expect Guentzel to continue to outscore Crosby, but it is worth noting.
With Crosby coming off back to back Conn Smythe’s, it is hard to expect anyone but him to be the winner if the Penguins three-peat.
Austin Watson: www.tennessean.com
Dustin Byfuglien: www.thesportsdaily.com
James Neal: www.lasvegas.cbslocal.com
Joe Pavelski: www.mercurynews.com
Alex Killorn: www.usatoday.com
Braden Holtby: www.washingtontimes.com
Jake DeBrusk: www.bostonherald.com
Jake Guentzel: www.toplocalnow.com