The 2022 Stanley Cup Final pits two of the best teams in the NHL against each other as they vie for the league championship.
The Colorado Avalanche narrowly missed out on the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record, losing out to the Florida Panthers over the season’s final games. Meanwhile, the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to become the first team since the New York Islanders (1980-83) to win three Cups in a row.
Here are three players with attractive Conn Smythe Trophy odds at the online sportsbook:
Steven Stamkos +1400
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, and that’s impacted his competitiveness. However, if we see elite-level play from the two-time Rocket Richard-winner, and if Tampa claims their third straight Stanley Cup, some of the credit will be handed to their captain.
Stammer leads the Bolts with an actual goals-for rating of 68.2%, being on the ice for a team-best 30 goals. Although exceeding his expected projection, the first-line center is well-positioned to continue his onslaught.
Stamkos starts 72.7% of his shifts in the attacking zone, getting 4:30 minutes of power play time per game. More impressively, the former first overall selection leads the Lightning with a 13.4% on-ice shooting percentage. Tampa needs their captain to be their best player, and so far, Stamkos has delivered.
Remember, like most awards, the media vote on this; Stamkos claiming his third straight Stanley Cup is the narrative that could carry the most weight after years of disappointment.
Victor Hedman +2000
Almost no one can do what Victor Hedman does. The hulking rearguard has been a stabilizing force on the Lightning’s backend for years, claiming a Norris Trophy, five All-Star nods, and the Conn Smythe Trophy following their 2020 Cup win.
The six-time Norris Trophy finalist does it all for the Bolts. Hedman skates on the top power play unit, averaging almost two minutes of penalty kill time per game, and leads the team with 24:30 time on ice.
His advanced metrics glimmer even brighter, with Hedman putting together a 59.2% expected goals-for rate, despite spending a substantial amount of time on the PK and starting just 52.8% of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Hedman’s defensive play is more critical to limiting the Lightning’s success. The Swedish defenseman will be tasked with shutting down the Avs top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog, and that only helps his bid to secure his second Conn Smythe award.
Hedman has the pedigree to claim his second MVP of the postseason, and the online betting price is enticing. We should only see his stock rise on the biggest stage, meaning now is the time to buy.
Darcy Kuemper +4000
The superstars have carried the Avalanche through the first three rounds of the playoffs, and that’s reflected in their Conn Smythe betting price. MacKinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog, and Cale Makar have the best odds to claim the award; however, the Avs will need more significant contributions from Darcy Kuemper if they hope to dethrone the Lightning.
Joe Sakic: “Darcy (Kuemper) is 100 percent healthy now.”
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) June 14, 2022
Solving Tampa’s netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy is a problem most teams can’t address. Colorado will inevitably find a way to capitalize, but there’s a finite amount of munition and even fewer goals. With goals likely coming at a premium, they will need Kuemper at his best. That only elevates his status as a Conn Smythe contender.
We’ve seen tremendous stretches from the Avs’ netminder this season, with Kuemper going 9-1-1 over an 11-game stretch towards the end of the season with a 94.4% save percentage. If that’s his playoff standard, Kuemper could take Vasilevskiy’s crown, and at +4000, it’s worth a gamble.
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