The Stanley Cup was contested for decades before there was a Conn Smythe Trophy. In fact, the Stanley Cup was born in 1893, the NHL came to be in 1917 but it wasn’t until 1965 that the league saw fit to recognize its annual playoff MVP with an award, the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The first winner was Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau. The second winner, Detroit Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier, was the first player from a losing team to be awarded playoff MVP honors.
Who are the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy contenders? Let’s look at that.
Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins
It’s been eight years since a goaltender won the Conn Smythe and it just so happens that goaltender was backed up by Rask. When Boston won the 2011 Stanley Cup, goaltender Tim Thomas was presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 28, 2019
Rask is making a solid case for his chances this spring. He’s won eight games in a row and seems to be getting better the deeper the Bruins go into the playoffs. He posted a 1.25 goals-against average, and a .956 save percentage in Boston’s Eastern Conference final sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jordan Binnington, G, St. Louis Blues
Binnington is seeking to be the third rookie goalie in four years to backstop his team to a Stanley Cup title. While Binnington’s playoff numbers are actually higher than his regular-season totals, he’s proving to be a resilient fellow. He’s 11-2-1 in games following a loss this season.
📍After a loss in the playoffs
SV% .937 pic.twitter.com/gt2uX4CCu9
— M I K E Y. P I C K S (@themikeypick) May 29, 2019
He could join other rookie goaltending sensations to capture the Conn Smythe, such as Montreal’s Ken Dryden in 1971 and Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy in 1986.
Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins
The guy you love to hate unless he’s on your team, Marchand fills a similar role with the Bruins to that of past Conn Smythe winner Claude Lemieux with the Devils and Avalanche. He gets under the skin of the opposition. He agitates, he chirps, he cheap shots. But he also registers big goals.
Brad Marchand says hello to Jordan Binnington pic.twitter.com/1KkfdrJtkD
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) May 28, 2019
Only Bobby Orr (eight), John Bucyk (eight), and Wayne Cashman (seven) have scored more Stanley Cup final goals in Bruins history than the six netted by Marchand.
Jaden Schwartz, LW, St. Louis Blues
Schwartz has actually scored more goals in the playoffs (12) than he did during the regular season (11). That’s the most goals of anyone remaining in the playoffs.
Jaden Schwartz is the first player to have multiple hat tricks in a single postseason since Detroit’s Johan Franzen in 2008. pic.twitter.com/6Y9eK5I8J7
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 19, 2019
Schwartz has recorded two hat-tricks during postseason play. He joined Frank St. Marseille, who played for the Blues’ 1968-70 trio of Stanley Cup finalist teams, as the only players in franchise history to record multiple playoff hat-tricks.
Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
Bergeron was held off the scoresheet in Game 1 of the final series but he has nine career points in Stanley Cup final play, including two goals in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final against Vancouver.
Here’s Rod Brind’Amour calling Patrice Bergeron one of his “favorite players ever” pic.twitter.com/dXavMnUuW2
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) May 27, 2019
He works the middle of Boston’s top line between Marchard and David Pastrnak. Bergeron shows 8-5-13 numbers in the playoffs this spring.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, St. Louis Blues
Tarasenko’s goal in Game 1 of the Cup final series extended his point streak to seven games (4-5-9). That’s tied for the third-longest in Blues playoff history.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored the @StLouisBlues' second goal of Game 1 to extend his point streak to seven games, tied for the third-longest in franchise playoff history. #NHLStats #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/SDENJm17nP
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 28, 2019
In 11 career games against Boston, Tarasenko has delivered 4-3-7 digits. He has nine goals during these playoffs.