Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy could be first co winners of Conn Smythe Trophy

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Oct 24, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) is congratulated by forward Nikita Kucherov (86) after the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the 5-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning are just one win away from their second Stanley Cup in as many seasons. Before the Stanley Cup is handed off from Gary Bettman to the winning team’s captain he will award the Conn Smythe Trophy for postseason MVP.

For the first time in its history, we could have our first co winners.

The Conn Smythe Trophy: Playoff MVP

The Conn Smythe Trophy is named after a Toronto Maple Leafs’ great. Conn Smythe was the team’s owner, general manager, and coach. His name appears on the Cup eight times as an owner. The award was introduced in the 1964-65 season and 47 players have won it since they began handing out.

Victor Hedman won it last season for the Lightning, and now two of his teammates are leading candidates to claim the honor.

nikita kucherov conn smythe
Jul 2, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) defends the net against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) during the first period in game three of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Nikita Kucherov

After spending the entire regular season on LTIR from hip surgery, Nikita Kucherov is leading all skaters in scoring with a staggering 32 points in 21 games. I understand that 19 of those points come on the man advantage, but special teams are a key to winning playoffs games and Kucherov is the best there is at it.

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Vasilevskiy has been spectacular in the post season in defeating the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and New York Islanders. He leads all goalies in the playoffs with a .938 SV% and is first among remaining backstops (playing 8 or more games) with a 1.94 GAA. On top of those staggering numbers are his four shutouts which includes a textbook performance in Game 7 against the Isles to get to the Final.

Right now, the two are so above and beyond all other candidates that it would be hard to pick between either of them. If I had to choose, Kucherov would be my selection. However, we could have co winners for the first time in the award’s history.

It’s unlikely, but there’s always a first for everything.