With the Dallas Stars looking to make their first trip back to the Stanley Cup Finals since losing to New Jersey in 2000, here’s a look at the front runners for the Conn Smythe Trophy should they claim Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Miro Heiskanen: There really has to be one consensus pick at this point for Dallas. The young stalwart has shown why the Stars were reticent to move in him in a potential deal for Erik Karlsson and his play has many believing he’ll likely join him as a Norris Trophy winner before long. Already in the conversation with the like of Cale Makar and Rasmus Dahlin amongst the league’s best young blueliners. This postseason has seen him emerge into the spotlight for the entire hockey world to take notice.
He’s put up an incredible 21 points in just 16 games (surpassing Sergei Zubov’s team record for defenceman) six points clear of his closest teammate Gurianov. Add to this nearly 26 minutes a night. With 8 of those points coming on the power play you can understand how vital he is to the Stars, special teams. He skates well, moves the puck effectively, and while not their most efficient shutdown guy, has been reasonably sound in his own end. Alongside John Klingberg he’s relied on to carry a huge workload and epitomizes everything an MVP stands for. Heiskanen controls the game whenever he’s out there. The young Finn has his eyes set on the Cup but if the Stars are crowned champions, he’ll very likely add some additional hardware.
Like any good race, there are always a few competitors nipping at the heels, or at least near enough to make it interesting:
Denis Gurianov: Dubbed Goal-ianov, he’s potted 8 markers to stand amongst the playoff leaders and his incredible speed makes him dangerous whenever he’s on the ice. He’s second on the team with 15 points and with the top line of Benn, Seguin & Radulov chipping in only intermittently, they’ll need his depth scoring to continue if they’ve any hope of hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Joe Pavelski: After coming over as a free agent from San Jose, the former Sharks captain had a down season by his standards (Just 31 pts in 66 gms) but as is often the case, he’s stepped it up when it’s mattered most. With 8 goals so far he’s among the playoff leaders and is a key upfront for the Stars. His willingness to go to the dirty areas and ability to tip pucks in front is second to none. His veteran presence and prowess on the penalty kill are certainly key contributions as well.
For Dallas to advance, it will take not only the three players mentioned above but a solid team effort to shut down a smooth-skating hard-hitting Vegas Golden Knights team in the Western Conference finals.
Stay tuned for pieces about the Eastern Conference finals teams and who our 4th Line Podcast writers think will take home personal silverware if their team lifts the greatest trophy in all of sports! Check out who was selected for the Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders!