In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take an updated look at the Conn Smythe Trophy watch for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A lot has changed in the past week with some new names at the top and some previous contenders being eliminated.
We have a superstar leading the way, an emerging superstar right behind him, and one of the league’s best two-way players rounding out the top-three.
Who else makes the cut this week?
To the rankings!
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche. MacKinnon is not just a superstar. He is the best player remaining in the playoffs and has to be considered among the top-three players in the entire National Hockey League. If you wanted to make an argument that he is the best, I would be willing to listen to it and not totally dismiss it. He is that good. His speed, his shot, and the way he takes over every single shift makes him one of the game’s most unstoppable forces. Every time he has the puck right now it should be bringing you to the edge of your seat.
2. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars. An absolutely fabulous player having an absolutely incredible postseason. He is tied for second in the NHL scoring race this postseason (the only defenseman in the top-15, and one of only two in the top-20), has five more points than any other player on the Stars, and has been a dominant defensive presence. At the end of last year’s playoffs Stars goalie Ben Bishop said Heiskanen was already one of the best defensemen he had ever played with, which is stunning praise given some of the players Bishop has had as teammates. Heiskanen is even better this postseaon.
3. Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights. You are not going to find many players in the NHL that play a better two-way game than Stone, and you might not find any wingers that are better. Stone is pacing the Golden Knights offensively while also playing a shutdown role defensively. He is not just underrated. He is one of the best players in hockey.
4. David Krejci, Boston Bruins. If something positive is happening for the Bruins this postseason (and once the real playoffs began, that has been often) there is a good chance that Krejci has been at the center of it. He has always shined for the Bruins come playoff time and that is happening again this season. He takes a seven-game point streak into Game 2 of their series against Tampa Bay.
5. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. His goals against by game this postseason: 1, 1, 1, 4, 0, 0, 4, 2. He had two little slips against Montreal, but you have to expect a tough game for every goalie at some point. But so far he has been everything the Flyers have hoped for in a franchise goalie. He out-dueled Carey Price in the First Round series and gives the Flyers a chance every night.
6. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks. Yes, I know Bo Horvat is tied for the league lead in goals this postseason, and I know Elias Pettersson is tied for second in total points. But I am doubling down on last week’s claim that Hughes has actually been the Canucks’ best player this postseason. Because he has been. The young forwards (Pettersson, Horvat, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller) are all tremendous, but Hughes is going to be the engine that really powers this machine for years to come.
7. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders. He has had a save percentage of .920 or better in seven of his first nine starts in the Return To Play. Consistent, steady, and a big part of the Islanders’ ability to shut down both teams they have played so far.
8. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. He is doing his part to lift the Lightning offense in the absence of Steven Stamkos. Along with two overtime winning goals in the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he has found the scoresheet in eight of his first nine playoff games and has yet to go consecutive games without scoring a goal this postseason.
9. Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche. If he played on any other team that did not have arguably the best player in the NHL on it he would probably be a lot higher on my list. But if a member of the Avalanche is going to win the Conn Smythe this postseason it is going to be MacKinnon. But do not let that take away from Kadri’s performance or the value he has added to the lineup. His presence has helped take the Avalanche from “up-and-coming team” to a Stanley Cup contender.
10. Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks. Pettersson is not just a dominant offensive player, he is quickly becoming one of the league’s must-see players on a nightly basis.
NHL Power Rankings: MacKinnon, Heiskanen top latest Conn Smythe watch originally appeared on NBCSports.com