Conn Smythe Odds: Oettinger the Current Favorite in a Close Race

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
Conn Smythe Odds: Oettinger the Current Favorite in a Close Race

The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Unlike other sports, this award takes into account the entire body of work, not just the Final.

That allows us to start handicapping the race early, even with two rounds still to play. It also adds a unique wrinkle as it makes a player on the losing team a candidate for the award if they carried their team to the final.

The dust has cleared as we head into the Conference Finals Round, and all four teams have a candidate to win the award. Here are the current Conn Smythe odds as listed on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Conn Smythe Odds

Jake Oettinger+500
Connor McDavid+550
Igor Shesterkin+600
Alexander Barkov+650
Leon Draisaitl +800

Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars (+500)

Goalies get a lot of attention during the playoffs, and that's the case for Jake Oettinger this postseason.

Oettinger has improved in the playoffs after a mediocre regular season. He saved just 0.037 goals above expected during the season. That has jumped up to 0.375 in the postseason.

The case for Oettinger strengthens when you consider the players around him on the Dallas Stars. Dallas has a great team, but they don't have a superstar. Jason Robertson was the team's leading scorer in the regular season, but he has just three goals in the playoffs. Wyatt Johnston has been one of their best skaters, notching seven goals in the playoffs, and Miro Heiskanen is the other skater in consideration as the team leader in points with 13.

Oettinger doesn't really stack up compared to the two last goaltenders who have won the award. In 2021, Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 1.149 goals above expected en route to being named MVP of the playoffs. You have to go all the way back to 2012 for the second to last time a goalie won the Conn Smythe, when Jonathan Quick saved 0.712 goals above expected.

The best comparable for Oettinger to win would likely be Tim Thomas in 2011. He saved 0.368 goals above expected, which is good but not elite. The Boston Bruins didn't have a player that really stood out that postseason, so Thomas got the votes. I could see something similar happening for Oettinger if the Stars win the Cup.

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (+550)

It's rare that a player with just two goals through the first two rounds is among the favorites for the Conn Smythe, but that's what we have with Connor McDavid.

A lack of goals is not a new story this season for McDavid. He went from 64 goals in 2022-23 to just 32 this regular season. Now, in the playoffs, he still doesn't seem to be able to find the back of the net.

This isn't to say that McDavid hasn't been good in the playoffs -- he's second overall in points with 21 in 12 games. It's just that it would be nice to see him score some goals if he is going to win this award.

It may not matter that much, because the Conn Smythe is voted on by hockey writers. The writers may care about the overarching impacting this award can have on the career of a player like McDavid -- who is a generational superstar. Winning this award could cement his legacy.

There is even a situation where McDavid has some good games in the next two rounds, the Edmonton Oilers lose a close seven-game series in the Final, and voters still opt for him as the MVP of the entire playoffs.

So, in short, these +550 odds are not a bad bet, and it may even make more sense than betting the Oilers to win it all at their +270 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers (+600)

Igor Shesterkin is another goalie in the mix for the award, and he definitely has a case for it.

You can make an argument that Shesterkin has been the best goalie in the playoffs -- as was laid out in detail on The Athletic. He has won eight of 10 games in the playoffs. He has a .923 save percentage, better than Oettinger's .918 clip. He also has saved 0.843 goals above expected, well ahead of Oettinger once again.

Shesterkin, however, may face stiffer competition from his teammates than Oettinger would. Vincent Trocheck has 14 points in 10 games, including a series-winning goal in Round 1 and an overtime goal in Round 2. They also have Chris Kreider, who scored a hat trick in the third period to send New York to the Eastern Conference Finals when the team may have been on the verge of collapsing.

Another argument against betting on Shesterkin now is that the Rangers have the odds to win the Stanley Cup among the remaining teams (full breakdown of the Stanley Cup market). He probably doesn't have a case to win the award if the Rangers aren't able to win the Cup, barring some unbelievable performances in the next two rounds.

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (+650)

The discussion surrounding Aleksander Barkov and how he's perceived in the league is fascinating.

Barkov has been declared the most underrated player in the league for years, dating back to 2017 and continuing into 2024. It's pretty hard for me to believe that a two-time Selke Trophy winner is still underrated -- he's considered one of the best centers in the NHL.

He started off the playoffs slowly, totaling just two points in the first four games. He's also been quiet of late, with just a goal and no assists in his past three games.

It's actually a bit of a theme for Barkov. In the last two years in the playoffs, he has 23 points in 31 games. It's definitely not bad, but it's not the elite numbers a Conn Smythe winner usually needs. Last year, if the Florida Panthers would have won the Cup instead of losing in the Final, the award likely would have gone to Matthew Tkachuk or Sergei Bobrovsky instead of Barkov.

Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart could stand in the way of Barkov this season if the Panthers finish the job and lift the Cup. Barkov has more than just points to his game, hence this season's Selke Trophy honoring his defensive play.

With Florida being the favorites to win the Stanley Cup and Barkov being their best player, this bet at +650 has some merit.

Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (+800)

The leading scorer in the playoffs is Leon Draisaitl, yet he's all the way down in fifth in this market at +800.

Draisaitl continues to dominate in the postseason. Over the last three playoffs, he has an incredible 74 points in 40 games. That's tied with McDavid for the most while no other player has more than 49.

In the regular season in his career, Draisaitl averages a great 1.18 points per game. In the playoffs, he's up to 1.65 -- a truly elite number. He has eight goals this postseason, as well, much more than McDavid's two.

If the narratives start swinging in the right direction about Draisaitl being a clutch playoff performer and if McDavid doesn't start scoring goals, it could be the German's award if Edmonton are able to win the Cup.

These odds are certainly tempting for the player with the most points in the playoffs thus far, and I'd prefer back Draisaitl over the goalies listed at shorter odds.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.