We are now firmly in the business end of Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which means some players have started to build their case to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the MVP of the postseason.
While most folks will focus on the players near the top of the scoring race through the first 10 days of the postseason, bookmakers are usually quick to adjust odds on players after strong performances in a single game or series. Thus, we’ll take a look a little further down the board to find a few players that have betting value in the Conn Smythe market:
Jacob Markstrom, Flames (18/1)
Scoring is up almost everywhere in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but there is one outlier: The series between the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames.
Through five games, Markstrom has allowed six goals on 125 shots for a .952 save percentage and a +4.3 Goals Saved Above Expected (per MoneyPuck). And while the defense in front of Markstrom is doing a good job limiting quality scoring chances, the 32-year-old Swede has been there when Dallas breaks through.
While plenty of contenders are built on deep offenses, the Flames are known for a well-structured defense under Darryl Sutter. That narrative will only help Markstrom’s case.
One win away from a trip to Round 2, the Flames are currently +650 to win the Stanley Cup. Should they do that, it likely will be on the back of a superlative postseason performance from their netminder.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers (30/1)
The Florida Panthers have not covered themselves in glory through their first five games of the postseason and if it weren’t for the play of Sergei Bobrovsky, the Presidents’ Trophy winners could be in a heap of trouble.
And although his .900 save percentage doesn’t leap off the page, his +2.4 Goals Saved Above Expected is the fourth-best mark in the postseason. But the most important thing to consider is that, despite a wobble that saw the Panthers go down 2-1 to the Capitals, Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette stuck with Bobrovsky rather than turning the keys over to Spencer Knight.
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For a team that split the load among its goaltenders down the stretch, the fact that Bobrovsky has started every game tells bettors that he will be Florida’s guy going forward.
Florida has plenty of offensive firepower, but since it is such a deep team, that means that the production will be spread around. Right now, Carter Verhaeghe is leading the line with 10 points, but if the Panthers go on a run it’s likely he’ll have plenty of company on the scoresheet. That “share the wealth” mentality should allow Bobrovsky to separate himself from the chasing pack should the Cats hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Pavel Buchnevich, Blues (150/1)
A long shot for a reason, Buchnevich has yet to score through the first five games of the postseason for the Blues. That said, the ex-Ranger is still playing well and has four assists — all of which have come at even strength.
A dynamic performer on one of the league’s strongest power plays, Buchnevich’s point total has plenty of runway should the Blues advance in the postseason.