The ultimate goal of any NHL player is to hoist the Stanley Cup. However, there is another trophy that is pretty great to lift when the playoffs end. We’re talking about the Conn Smythe Trophy, which goes to the postseason’s most valuable player. The Conn Smythe has been handed out every year since 1965, almost always to a player from the winning team. And yet on occasion a player from the losing squad has been so good, he has taken home the Conn Smythe as a consolation prize. Here is every winner of the Conn Smythe since the first time it was awarded.
O'Reilly had put together a solid career before joining the Blues, but it wasn't all great. His time in Buffalo was somewhat of a disappointment, and he ended up getting dealt by the lowly Sabres. The move gave him a chance to bounce back big time. In addition to winning the Selke for top defensive forward, O'Reilly won the Conn Smythe by notching 23 points en route to taking St. Louis to their first Cup in franchise history.
It took Ovechkin, the greatest goal scorer of his era, a long, long time to finally get over the hump. Some wondered if he would ever hoist the Stanley Cup. Then he did it, and there was no question who would get the Conn Smythe. He wasn’t able to repeat, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Russian take home another one someday.
So naturally Crosby went ahead and won it again the next season. That made him the first player to win back-to-back Conn Smythes since…Mario Lemieux. Funny how that works out, huh?
Finally Crosby, the heir apparent to Mario Lemieux (and, some argue, Wayne Gretzky) got his Conn Smythe. He already had two Art Ross Trophies and two Hart Trophies to his name, not to mention the Cup that Geno Malkin got the Conn Smythe for, but this was the cherry on top of his career.
Since Toews and Kane both had Conn Smythes already, maybe Keith was given one to shake things up. That’s not to say he wasn’t a great player for the Blackhawks for many years. Though he was not expected to become a star, the defenseman turned himself into a pivotal piece of three Cup-winning teams. His numbers have dropped significantly the last couple of years, but his heyday was tremendous for Chicago.
OK, so Williams probably goes down as the most surprising Conn Smythe winner. He’s been the personification of “veteran presence” for decades and has been a bit of a Zelig in terms of popping up on successful playoff teams. He also has a “record” of 8-1 in Game 7s. While Williams is nobody’s idea of a Hall of Famer, his 25 playoff points in 2014 were nothing to sneeze at.
Toews got the first Conn Smythe for the Blackhawks, so it was Kane’s turn. This was kind of a strange year, as the Calder-winning Kane had “only” nine goals and 19 points in this MVP turn. However, only one player, Boston’s David Krejci, had more than 20 points in this postseason.
It’s back-to-back goalies winning, but Quick is, as of now, the last goalie to win the Conn Smythe. That’s a little surprising, given how many netminders have taken home the award. The Kings goalie really stood on his head in this run and helped to solidify himself in the minds of many as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
Thomas is the most recent winner of the Conn Smythe no longer active in the NHL. The goalie had a strange career. It took him a while to get it going, and then suddenly he was the best goalie in the world for a couple of years. He won two Vezinas despite having only 426 NHL games to his name, and he also won this one Conn Smythe.
The Blackhawks ended a long title drought in 2010, and the dynamic duo of Toews and Patrick Kane led the charge. Naturally, though, it’s the guy known as “Captain Serious” who was declared the MVP. It was a close battle, as Toews had only one more point than Kane, but the whole “captain” thing probably helped carry the day.
Zetterberg played great in 2009 as well, but the Penguins upended Detroit’s plans at a repeat. While Sidney Crosby has always overshadowed Malkin, the Russian has had an excellent career of his own. He also had the honor of being the first of the two to win a Conn Smythe, which was paired with an Art Ross in 2009 as well.
Zetterberg recently retired a Red Wings legend, and a former captain, thanks in part to his role in the 2008 Stanley Cup win. After having the best regular season of his career with 92 points, Z led the postseason in scoring with 27 points. In time, his No. 40 will be retired by the Wings, and this run will be a big reason why.
Niedermayer won three Cups with the Devils but zero Conn Smythe Trophies. As a seasoned veteran with a salt-and-pepper beard, he finally got his Conn Smythe, but not with New Jersey. Instead, he won it with Anaheim, giving the franchise its first Cup thanks to his strong defensive play. The beard probably helped too.
There was no season in 2005, thanks a lot Gary Bettman, so there was no Conn Smythe winner. That means the next winner was a young goalie named Cam Ward, who has had a weird career. After this high so early in his run, he quickly turned into a mediocre goalie who was more of a burden on the Hurricanes than a benefit.
For the first time in a long time, and the last time as of present, we have a player from a losing team winning the Conn Smythe. Giguere was truly amazing in leading the Mighty Ducks to the finals. He put together one of the best performances in memory, but it wasn’t quite enough. It also showed us just how hard it is for a losing player to win the Conn Smythe in modern times.
For years, Lidstrom was the best defenseman in the NHL. He won a whopping seven Norris Trophies in his career, and yet somehow that feels like it’s not enough. There were many other trophies in the Swedes career, though, including this one claiming of the Conn Smythe.
Yes, that makes three Conn Smythes for Roy. That is in fact a record. No other player has been named playoff MVP more than twice, and right now there is only one player who has a chance of trying it at some point in the future, though it won’t happen this year. This was also Roy’s first win of this award with the Avalanche.
Stevens patrolled the blue line for the Devils for many years, going from being a big-time scorer into a defensive stalwart. He became a force at goal prevention during the trap days. Stevens scored only 11 points in this entire playoff run, but his play was still so impressive he won the Conn Smythe.
Brett Hull and his skate in the crease is all everybody remembers, but Hull didn’t get the MVP despite scoring the series-winning goal. Nieuwendyk is no slouch, of course, as he made the Hall of Fame in 2011. The former Flames captain also won the Calder for rookie of the year and would eventually become the general manager of the Dallas Stars. It wasn’t as successful a run as his playing career.
That’s more like it. The guy called the “The Captain” in Detroit needed a Conn Smythe. He was the focal point of the franchise for over a decade at this point and had changed his game to service the team’s needs. It would have felt weird for him to never be a Conn Smythe winner. He got to win once in 1998.
Much as the Rangers in 1994, the Red Wings ended a huge drought in 1997. And as with the Rangers, it wasn’t one of the names you’d most expect who won the Conn Smythe. Nope, instead of a Detroit legend, it was Vernon, who had also tended goal for the Flames in 1989. He didn’t win a Conn Smythe that year, though. Waiting until 1997 probably was just fine with him.
Speaking of Claude Lemieux, he would join the Avalanche and get himself another Cup in 1996. This time, though, he wouldn’t sniff the Conn Smythe. Instead, future Hall of Famer and team captain Sakic was named playoff MVP. The Avalanche had just moved to Colorado from Quebec, and Sakic helped make the move a memorable one right off the bat.
Lemieux is another surprising winner. The Devils helped turn the NHL into a slog for a few years with their neutral zone trap, and then they got some great goaltending from Martin Brodeur as well. Lemieux was a good player, but he’s probably the worst player to win the Conn Smythe at this point in history, and perhaps ever.
Mark Messier was the captain of the Rangers team that ended a 54-year title drought, and he’s the one who made the big guarantee. And yet he didn’t win the Conn Smythe. Instead that went to Leetch, who had a great career in his own right. You would have guessed Messier, or maybe even Mike Richter, but nope, it was Leetch.
And then Mario did it again. Lemieux couldn’t quite live up to the 44 points he had in 1991, but in 1992 he scored 34 points in eight fewer games. Yes, despite the fact Lemieux missed a few playoff contests, he still managed 34 points in only 15 games and got himself the Conn Smythe despite his absence.
Lemieux battled Gretzky for being the best player in the NHL in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Super Mario had a great career that could have been even better if not for injuries and illnesses. This year Lemieux had a staggering campaign, as he scored a whopping 44 points in the playoffs. Only Gretzky has ever notched more in one postseason.
When you think about the Edmonton Oilers dynasty, you think about the forwards, not really the goalies. Also, when you think of great netminders, you don’t think of Bill Ranford. That’s probably because Ranford wasn’t all that great of a goalie in his career. However, for one postseason he embodied the “hot goalie” archetype and got some hardware.
It feels like it’s forgotten that MacInnis and his booming slap shot won a Conn Smythe. That is, unless you are a Calgary Flames fan. The defenseman helped get the franchise its only Cup and sent beloved Flames legend Lanny McDonald into retirement with a ring.
Gretzky is back at it for his second Conn Smythe in what would become the final Stanley Cup he ever won. Unsurprisingly, the only man to have his number retired by the NHL has the most career goals, assists and points in postseason play.
After a long break, another player on a losing team emerged as a Conn Smythe winner. Hextall did everything he could to get the Flyers a Cup, but his efforts fell short against an Oilers juggernaut. Sure, his 2.77 GAA and .908 save percentage in the playoffs don’t look great by modern standards, but remember this was the ‘80s. If a goalie had a save percentage over .900, he was doing something right.
Much like Ken Dryden before him, Roy won a Conn Smythe for the Canadiens in his first season with the team. Though he started only 47 games during the regular season, at 20 he became the youngest Conn Smythe winner ever.
The Great One didn’t have to wait long to get his Conn Smythe, of course. It took only one more season and one more Cup run. What can we say about the most prolific point scorer in NHL history that you haven’t already heard? Gretzky was great, and he was great in these playoffs.
In a mild upset, Messier beat his teammate Wayne Gretzky to win a Conn Smythe. Both guys contributed a ton in Edmonton’s first Cup run, but Messier got the nod. In addition to scoring 26 points, Mess scored a crucial goal in the Final against the Islanders, which may have pushed him over the edge.
And with the Islanders' last of four consecutive Stanley Cups, goalie Billy Smith finally gets a Conn Smythe. However, this is not the most noteworthy thing to happen in Smith’s career. He was the first goalie ever credited with a goal, though it was not one he actually shot into a net. Still, it’s a bit of history.
Now this is the name you expect to see when you think stars of the ‘80s Islanders. Bossy was an incredible goalscorer, and the only thing that kept him from adding to his 573 career goals is an injury-shortened career. This is a guy who never failed to score 50 or more goals in a full season. Are you surprised that he scored 17 goals in three straight playoffs, getting one Conn Smythe for his troubles?
The Islanders of the ‘80s had a few huge names, and Goring is not one of them. He’s not even in the Hall of Fame, which isn’t a knock, but it makes him stand out among early Conn Smythe winners. For one year, though, he managed 20 points in 18 games, and the man credited with popularizing the playoff beard got some hardware.
The Islanders won four Cups in a row, so get ready to spend a little time on Long Island. Trottier was the first of the bunch to win a Conn Smythe in the team’s first-ever championship victory. It would be his only win, as no Islander managed to double up during this four-year run.
Gainey notched 16 points in the playoffs, which is good, but scoring was never Gainey’s calling card. He was, to some, the greatest defensive forward ever. Don’t believe us? Well, the four straight Selke Trophies he won for his defensive play would argue otherwise.
So the Canadiens had a player nicknamed “The Roadrunner” (Yvan Cournoyer) and also a guy nicknamed “Big Bird” in Robinson? And they both won Conn Smythe Trophies? What an odd world. Robinson is also notable because in addition to winning a Conn Smythe as a player, he won a Stanley Cup as a coach with the New Jersey Devils.
"The Flower" changed the game in the NHL in some ways. He was the first player to tally 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons. Lafleur took home five Cups in his career but only one Conn Smythe. He would lead the NHL in scoring for three straight playoffs, but this is the only time he was given the postseason MVP honor.
Leach is the third Flyers player in a row to win the Conn Smythe. However, that’s not because Philadelphia had a threepeat. The Flyers lost in the Final in 1976, but Leach still was named playoff MVP. As a forward, he is to this day the only non-goalie from a losing team to win this trophy.
Well what are we supposed to say about Parent now? We were just talking about him! We could say that Parent became the first, but not last, player to win back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies. Only one person could be the first, though, and that honor forever belongs to the Flyers netminder.
The Flyers became the first expansion team to win a Cup, in 1974, and they can thank Parent for that. The Hall of Fame goalie put up some great numbers in the playoffs, and all season, including posting a shutout in the clinching game of the Final.
Though Cournoyer is in the Hall of Fame, he’s far from the first name that comes to mind when you think of legendary Canadiens. Don’t worry: Montreal starts winning far less Cups awfully quickly. Though he was only 5-foot-7, the player nicknamed “The Roadrunner” scored an impressive 15 goals in the playoffs to earn his trophy.
Yes, Orr is back. The Bruins won another Cup, so of course he was the MVP. This was the last time the Bruins would win it all for many years and also was the final Cup of Orr’s career, which was unfortunately truncated by injury. Still, he is one of only a handful of players with more than one Conn Smythe and the only defenseman to do so.
Sure, it’s another Canadien, but at least this time it’s the goalie from a winning team. Here’s something crazy. Dryden won the Conn Smythe the season BEFORE he won the Calder as Rookie of the Year. The netminder had played in only six regular-season games before taking over in net for the playoffs in 1971, which is why he remained eligible for the Calder.
Ever heard of him? Naturally, when the Bruins won their first Cup in decades, their iconic defenseman led the charge. Orr changed the game as a player. This season, he won the Art Ross, Norris, and Hart to go with the Conn Smythe. Oh, and this was also the playoffs where the famous photo of him was taken.
We’ve got another Canadien but our first defenseman. The future Hall of Famer is credited with popularizing the spin-o-rama (along with the similarly named Denis Savard) and won eight Cups total with Montreal. He was also the second-to-last player from the Original Six era of the NHL to be an active player.
OK, so clearly the NHL was still figuring out this award early on. Hall is the fourth winner of the Conn Smythe and the second to come from the losing team. That’s right. At this point in NHL history, there were as many playoff MVPs from losing teams as from winning teams. This would change quickly. Hall played goalie for St. Louis, which was an expansion team this year.
The last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup, Keon was the hero. It was the fourth Cup he won with Toronto, but the only one for which the Conn Smythe was around. Keon managed just eight points in the 1967 playoffs, which makes him the lowest-scoring player (other than goalies, of course) to win the Conn Smythe.
Almost right out of the gate, the Conn Smythe voters threw us a curveball. It was not by voting for a goalie; goalies often win this award. No, it was because Crozier played goalie for the Red Wings, and they didn’t win the Cup this year. That’s right, the second-ever winner of the Conn Smythe played for the losing team.
The player who ends up winning the Conn Smythe isn’t always a star, but that wasn’t the case the first time the award was handed out. Beliveau is a legendary Montreal Canadien. It also feels fitting that the first winner of the Conn Smythe played for the team with the most Stanley Cups in history.