Conn Smythe Watch: Top 10 candidates after Round 1

Eight teams are still standing in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs after a first round that was notable for its relative brevity, sans the seven-game Toronto Maple Leafs-Boston Bruins series. That said, there was enough of a sample to deliver 10 players who are on track for the Conn Smythe Trophy should their teams have the good fortune of advancing through the playoffs.
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Sometimes the Conn Smythe goes not only to the most valuable player but also to the most compelling narrative. Holtby has a .932 save percentage and was solid in the Capitals’ first-round win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. But it’s his journey from the bench in Games 1 and 2 to reclaim the crease as the starter that attracts MVP votes.
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We’ll give Watson the edge here with four goals and three assists in six games, including at least a point in every game. He’s already doubled his career postseason goal total.

Ovechkin has been labeled Frank Clark Jersey a playoff choker for years, which is symptomatic of his team’s failures, because in reality, the Capitals’ star has put up solid postseason numbers. In 103 playoff games since 2008, Ovechkin has 51 goals.

The Bruins have a few heroes after their dramatic seven-game victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rookie Jake DeBrusk has five goals. Torey Krug has nine points to lead all defensemen in the postseason. But Pasta gets the nod here for being tied for the playoff lead with 13 points, having that six-point Game 2 as a calling card and being the de facto representative of the Bruins’ dominant top line.

[Jackson’s] a great quarterback. But Joe Flacco is our quarterback, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. That’s the thing we got to remember. Lamar is going to have a great chance to develop. When you get to this stage in a quarterback’s career, you’ve seen done in New England and you’ve seen done in a lot of places. This doesn’t really change things in a sense that we’re going to go with Joe and he’s going to roll.

The big thing is he’s a quarterback. That’s the first thing to remember, Harbaugh said. He’s a quarterback through and through. He’s a playmaker. We do some analytics, and when the ball is in his hands, there hasn’t been a better playmaker really in the last few years coming out.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome called it masterful how the Ravens were able to trade down twice to get tight end Hayden Hurst and then move back into the first round for Jackson. Baltimore traded its picks in the second and fourth rounds as well as its 2019 second-round pick to Philadelphia for the No. 32 overall pick and the Eagles’ fourth-rounder.