Conn Smythe Power Rankings: McDavid, Makar dominate Round 1

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Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is behind us, so it's time for our first edition of Conn Smythe Trophy Power Rankings. Below, we'll order the top candidates for this year's postseason MVP based on results from the opening round.

5. Victor Hedman, Lightning

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GP G A ATOI xGF%
7 2 5 25:42 54.2

Hedman is searching for his second Conn Smythe Trophy after winning the award in 2020. If the Tampa Bay Lightning go all the way again for a three-peat, there's a strong chance he'll be the favorite.

The 6-foot-6 Swede was a beast in Round 1. Hedman produced plenty of offense, ranking first in shots on goal and fifth in points among defensemen. But he was also terrific defensively, helping slow down the Toronto Maple Leafs' potent attack. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner combined for one even-strength point in three road games when Jon Cooper had last change to ensure Hedman was on the ice against them.

4. Jacob Markstrom, Flames

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W-L GAA SV% SO GSAx
4-3 1.53 .943 1 5.5

This spot would've belonged to Jake Oettinger had the Dallas Stars prevailed in Round 1; heck, he might've been ranked No. 1. While Oettinger was the better goalie in the series against the Calgary Flames, Markstrom was still spectacular, even though he wasn't tested as much.

Among goalies remaining in the playoffs, Markstrom ranks first in goals-against average, tied for first with Jordan Binnington (who only played three games) in save percentage, and second in goals saved above expected behind Mike Smith. Markstrom gets the edge because he gave his team a chance to win every night, whereas Smith had two rough outings.

3. Carter Verhaeghe, Panthers

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GP G A ATOI xGF%
6 6 6 16:05 53.2

Verhaeghe epitomized playoff hockey in Round 1. He showed guts, playing through an injury in Game 6 after suffering an undisclosed ailment in Game 5 and went on clinch the series with the OT winner. It was his second overtime goal of the series and his third game-winner. He also threw his weight around with 11 hits. The 26-year-old isn't the Florida Panthers' best player, but he certainly played like it against the Washington Capitals.

2. Connor McDavid, Oilers

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GP G A ATOI xGF%
7 4 10 21:41 70.6

McDavid willed the Edmonton Oilers to their first series victory since 2017. With the captain on the ice at even strength, the Oilers outscored the Los Angeles Kings 13-5, outshot them 107-73, and won the high-danger scoring chance battle 60-24. He ranks seventh in expected goals percentage (among skaters with at least 50 five-on-five minutes) and first in points through Round 1.

More importantly, McDavid came through when it mattered most. He put forth a memorable Game 7 performance with a goal and assist in 27:23 of ice time in the 2-0 win while teammate Leon Draisaitl was playing banged up.

1. Cale Makar, Avalanche

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GP G A ATOI xGF%
4 3 7 25:26 64.3

The Colorado Avalanche had a relatively stress-free opening round. A major reason why they were able to cruise to a four-game sweep of the Nashville Predators was Makar's dominance.

The Norris Trophy finalist leads all skaters with 2.5 points per game and his 10 points are the most in NHL history by a defenseman through four games in a postseason. Colorado outscored Nashville 6-2 with Makar on the ice at even strength and won the high-danger scoring-chance battle 22-13.

(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey)

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Conn Smythe Power Rankings: McDavid, Makar dominate Round 1
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