Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman is the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy
|Toronto Star 25 Sep 2020 at 20:40|
Victor Hedman, six-foot-six before his skates go on, is used to standing head and shoulders above everybody on the ice. He’s doing it again, this time as the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman had 10 playoff goals going into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final Friday night. Bobby Orr never had that many in a single playoffs; only Paul Coffey, with 12, and Brian Leetch, with 11, scored more in one post-season. Three of Hedman’s 10 were game-winners.
“I like to contribute offensively, but we’re not here for our personal stats,” Hedman said. “We’re here for one thing, that’s winning the Stanley Cup. I’m happy with the way things are going but, at the end of the day, if that’s by a goal or a blocked shot, it doesn’t matter to us, the goal is still the same.”
Hedman leads all players that lasted beyond the first round in average ice time on ice, at 26 minutes. More importantly, perhaps, he took over leadership of the Lightning with captain Steven Stamkos sidelined in these playoffs until taking five shifts in Game 3 Wednesday.
“(Hedman) controls the game,” teammate Mikhail Sergachev said. “He plays all situations. He not only eats minutes, he’s so great killing penalties, playing the power play, five-on-five. It’s unbelievable how well he plays.
“He has done everything for us. He’s been huge.”
The Conn Smythe award, given to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup tournament, won’t get handed out until the Cup itself is awarded. Tracking the favourites is a bit like the stock market. A player’s value goes up and down with each passing game, each passing series.
The award, as voted on by 18 members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is supposed to reflect the entire playoffs, but typically the final round carries a bit more weight. Here’s a look at the favourites for the Conn Smythe, named in honour of the founder of the Toronto Maple Leafs.