Who are the leading Conn Smythe Trophy candidates after two rounds?

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid speaks on teammate Leon Draisaitl reaching 100 playoff points for his career, saying that Draisaitl is often the best player in the world when he turns his game up in the postseason.

Some starving fanbase is about a month away from a Stanley Cup triumph that was a long time coming.

We’re halfway through the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the most recent championship won by any of the four remaining squads was 25 years ago, when the Dallas Stars downed the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 final.

We’re about to hit the 30-year anniversary of Mark Messier leading the New York Rangers to their 1994 title and Messier was also involved the last time the Edmonton Oilers won the Cup, 34 years ago in 1991.

The Florida Panthers made the final in 2023, but have never hoisted the best banner in their 30-year history.

In terms of the Oilers specifically, it may be a long time since northern Albertans celebrated a championship, but Edmonton supporters continue to be treated to all-time individual playoff performances.

Leon Draisaitl is a Conn Smythe Trophy favourite as the post-season’s most valuable player right now thanks to his playoff-best 24 points in 12 contests. In the history of the NHL playoffs, there have been eight instances where a player averaged two points-per-game over at least a dozen-game sample size and seven of them belong to Oilers.

Back in the day, Wayne Gretzky did it three times (1983, ’85 and ’88) and  Paul Coffey did it once (1985). Connor McDavid did it two years ago in 2022 and so did Draisaitl, meaning he and Gretzky are the only guys in league history to do it twice.

(Mario Lemieux also turned the trick with Pittsburgh in 1992).

Draisaitl’s career mark of 1.66 points-per-game in 66 contests is now higher than everybody in the history of hockey with at least 50 playoff games played, other than Gretzky at 1.84 in 208 showings.

It’s unbelievable stuff from a guy who wants nothing more than to end his team’s title drought. Draisaitl, of course, isn’t the only stud looking to provide a new generation of fans with a silver memory. So with two rounds down and two more to go, here’s a look at the players in the mix with Draisaitl for the Conn Smythe.

[brightcove videoID=6352984376112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars

Heiskanen had a monster second round, recording four goals and four more assists for eight points in the six-game win over Colorado. The clinching Game 6 was the only contest in which he didn’t register a point, but the stud Stars defenceman played nearly 40 minutes in the huge double-overtime triumph.

Nobody has logged more total ice time this spring than No. 4 on Dallas.

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

With his team facing elimination on home ice in Game 6 versus the Vancouver Canucks, McDavid registered three consecutive first assists on Oilers goals that changed the game from being tied 1-1 after 20 minutes to Edmonton leading 4-1 early in the final frame. McDavid’s 21 points this spring are more than every other player besides teammate Draisaitl.

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

The Cats captain isn’t scoring at the rate of some of the other elite producers in the league — though 13 points in 11 games is hardly anything to sneeze at — but he’s been the engine that’s driving Florida’s success all over the ice. Barkov also had two game-winners for the Panthers in Round 2 versus Boston and his GWG in Game 4, in particular, was a power move up the middle of the ice and perfectly embodied the lift he provides this team.

[brightcove videoID=6353352855112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers

Bouchard has just had huge moments in these playoffs, from scoring the lone marker in a pivotal 1-0 Game 4 win over L.A. in Round 1 and a three-point night in the clinching fifth game versus the Kings, to putting up a pair of points in Edmonton’s monster 3-2 victory over the Canucks in Game 7 on Monday night.

The 24-year-old has an incredible 20 points this post-season, five more than the next closest defenceman.

In the past 35 years, 14 other defencemen have posted at least 20 points in a post-season and 13 of them made the final. The only guy who didn’t was Adam Fox, who had 23 points in 20 games with the Rangers in 2022.

Bouchard has played 12 games this spring and has yet to even touch the ice for Round 3. If he plays 12 more, Paul Coffey’s all-time record for a D-man of 37 points in 1985 is absolutely in play. Bouchard might become just the fourth blue-liner ever with a 30-point post-season regardless of whether or not Edmonton wins the Western Conference.

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers

Shesterkin’s .923 save percentage is the best mark of any goalie remaining in the post-season and he made an outrageous 99 saves combined in Games 2 and 3 versus the Hurricanes to help the Rangers take a 3-0 stranglehold on that series with two extra-time victories.

[brightcove videoID=6353340824112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Wyatt Johnston, Dallas Stars

The youngster was quieter in Round 2 versus Colorado, but his seven goals this spring is still tied with the next guy on this list for the third-most among players still chasing the big silver mug.

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers

Sure, there’s probably some recency bias here after Kreider blew out the Hurricanes in Game 6 with his natural hat trick in the third period. Still, Kreider has seven goals this post-season to lead the Blueshirts and if he can pot two more game-winners this spring to get to 14 for his career (jumping Evgeni Malkin, Brad Marchand and Ondrej Palat at 13), the only active NHLer with more post-season GWGs will be Dallas’ Joe Pavelski at 18.

Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars

Only Jeremy Swayman (373) of the bounced Boston Bruins has more total saves than the 355 Oettinger has made in these playoffs. The Stars goaltender held the high-powered Avalanche to one goal in three of Dallas’ four Rd. 2 wins against Colorado.

Vincent Trocheck, New York Rangers

Trocheck is tied with Mika Zibanejad for the Rangers’ scoring lead this post-season, notching 14 points in 10 contests. However, the only player seeing more ice time than Trocheck’s 23:12 per night is defenceman Adam Fox (23:25).

Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers

Drop the Game 1 series-opening loss to the Bruins in Round 2 and Bobrovsky had a .921 save percentage the rest of the way. He was especially sharp as the series went on, posting a .941 mark in Games 5 and 6 combined.

Zach Hyman, Edmonton Oilers

Averaging nearly a goal-per-game — 11 in 12 — through two rounds of the playoffs is always going to get you MVP consideration, even if you only have two assists to go along with them.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.