Conn Smythe Trophy Power Rankings: Heiskanen stakes his claim
This is the second edition of theScore's rankings of the top candidates to be named 2019-20 playoff MVP. We've only featured players still competing in the postseason, which officially includes the qualifying round and round-robin stage.
5. Mark Stone
Stone contributes more to team wins than most players do. The gifted Vegas Golden Knights winger posted a point per game in the first two rounds and round-robin play, recording six goals and nine assists in 15 contests.
Stone also plays a critical shutdown role on the defensive end, frequently being tasked with containing some of the most dynamic stars in the league on the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks in Rounds 1 and 2, respectively.
The 28-year-old possesses a blistering 69.69% expected goals rate at 5-on-5 entering the Western Conference Final, and his scoring chances for (62.5%) and Corsi For (60.93%) figures only underscore his value further.
4. Shea Theodore
It's safe to say the Anaheim Ducks are still kicking themselves for trading Theodore to the Golden Knights at the 2017 expansion draft, and the defenseman is making his old club regret that decision more than ever this postseason.
This list's No. 1 is the only player with more points among blue-liners heading into the conference finals - Theodore's produced six goals and 10 assists in 15 games in just over 22 minutes of ice time.
The 25-year-old is particularly formidable lately, burying two goals in the last three games ahead of Round 3 and amassing two goals and eight assists over a seven-game span, including three multi-point efforts from Aug. 16-Sept. 1.
3. Brayden Point
Point is certainly living up to his last name in these playoffs, and his production is critical to the Tampa Bay Lightning's success, especially in the absence of injured captain Steven Stamkos.
Entering the conference finals, the 24-year-old forward led all NHL skaters still competing with 1.38 points per game. He's collected six goals and 12 assists in 13 games played through the first two rounds and the round-robin stage. He only earned two of his 18 points on the power play - and both were helpers - making his output look even more impressive.
Point occasionally gets overlooked because of the Lightning's catalog of superstars, but he's a game-changer in his own right. The skilled center boasts terrific possession figures entering Round 3, going above 60% in expected goals for (65.22), scoring chances for (60.95), and Corsi For (61.26) at 5-on-5.
2. Andrei Vasilevskiy
Vasilevskiy does have a potent offense in front of him, but he deserves ample recognition for his stellar performance this postseason.
The Lightning goaltender is pacing the remaining puck-stoppers with a .931 save percentage in all situations, and a 6.03 goals saved above average at 5-on-5 alongside his 10-3 record. A 45-save effort against the Boston Bruins in Game 5 padded those numbers, but he authored a commendable .927 save percentage in the 12 previous contests.
Vasilevskiy mounted his accomplishments while facing more shots than all but Jacob Markstrom, Anton Khudobin, and Carter Hart through second-round play.
1. Miro Heiskanen
It's rare to see someone so young become the most valuable still-competing player in the conference finals, but that's what Heiskanen is.
The 21-year-old led all active skaters in playoff points with 21 in 16 games heading into the third round, while averaging nearly 26 minutes of ice time.
That's remarkable, considering not just the Dallas Stars defenseman's age, but his position. Heiskanen is also effectively driving possession - his expected goals for (53.53), scoring chances for (52.59), and Corsi For (50.71) percentages at 5-on-5 are all favorable through the second round.
Honorable mentions: Josh Bailey, Robin Lehner, Nikita Kucherov, Mathew Barzal, Victor Hedman, Denis Gurianov, Alex Tuch.
(Analytics source: Natural Stat Trick)