Conn Smythe Trophy odds update: Last chance at a big impression

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

The award for the Stanley Cup Playoffs' most valuable player is like a political campaign. There are voters to appeal to and a time to do it. Unlike Super Bowl MVP or NBA Finals MVP, the Conn Smythe Trophy should encapsulate everything a player's done throughout the entire playoffs, but like an election, many voters will be swayed by what happens most recently.

With the Lightning and Avalanche set to meet in what we hope will be a close series that lives up to exceptions, each team has a pair of stars that have put their names atop the ballot going into the Stanley Cup Final.

Conn Smythe Trophy odds

Cale Makar +150
Nathan MacKinnon +175
Andrei Vasilevskiy +375
Nikita Kucherov +425
Mikko Rantanen +1600
Gabriel Landeskog +1800
Steven Stamkos +1800
Victor Hedman +1800

*Not listing players with odds 50-1 or longer

We've been putting together our own group of candidates in a player portfolio over the course of the playoffs, and the last man standing is Cale Makar (+450 going into the Western Conference Final). He's now the favorite.

The second choice is also an Avalanche skater - Nathan MacKinnon - who has been the favorite at times throughout the middle of the second round and the start of the conference finals. With the Avalanche considered moderate favorites in the Stanley Cup Final, their implied win probability (approximately 66%) is passed down through Makar and MacKinnon's odds.

Despite being listed on the oddsboard, the chances of Mikko Rantanen or Gabriel Landeskog supplanting the two superstars on Colorado is slim to none.

The Lightning have a two-man ticket of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov, but the market is unsure who should be getting top billing for Tampa. The 2021 winner - Vasilevskiy - has stepped up his game after early series struggles against both the Rangers and the Maple Leafs. Projecting forward, if the Lightning are to thwart the Avalanche offense, Vasilevskiy will likely get the credit - even if Anthony Cirelli and Victor Hedman have major roles in that success.

But if the Lightning can keep up with Colorado's scoring depth, you'd have to consider that Kucherov will be firing successfully early and often.

The one long shot that's tempting is Steven Stamkos at 18-1 because of what we just saw against New York. Stamkos scored the type of timely goals that the Lightning need to win their low-scoring games. However, he's eight points behind Kucherov in the playoffs. He could get the nod over his teammate if he can close that gap slightly while also scoring critical vote-inspiring, game-deciding goals. Between the two Lightning forwards at that pricing, that's the route I'd be more likely to take.

Notable in their absence on the board is an Avalanche goaltender. That's appropriate since the Avs have used both Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz, and it's too late for one to stand out as a playoff MVP.

Best bet

Since this market has existed for weeks - unlike the other sports championships - we have to acknowledge the bets we've already made and our best work already being done. The best is getting Makar - the favorite - at a far better price than currently available on the board.

If you're late to the defenseman's coming out party and are searching strictly for value now, Vasilevskiy has to be the most likely candidate to be worth his almost 4-to-1 payout.

Of course, you're probably already invested in this series either via this Conn Smythe market or the Stanley Cup futures market, and with this series being a true toss-up, standing pat with whatever ticket(s) you have is probably the most prudent strategy.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.`