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Conn Smythe Trophy betting: Strategizing standouts among Cup contenders

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You've had all season to bet on the Stanley Cup winner, but the Conn Smythe Award - given to the playoffs' most valuable player - has only been available on the oddsboard for a few days.

It's a more nuanced betting market with longer odds that can result in a big payout, such as Jonathan Marchessault's Conn Smythe-worthy postseason at longer than 50-1 odds. Had you pegged the Golden Knights for a Cup contender, figured a single goaltender wouldn't necessarily lead the way, and picked out Vegas' most clutch scorer, you'd have a big win on a low-investment bet.

Conn Smythe odds

Connor McDavid +1000
Nathan MacKinnon +1500
Artemi Panarin +1800
David Pastrnak +1800
Jake Guentzel +1800
Matthew Tkachuk +2000
Sebastian Aho +2000
Sergei Bobrovsky +2000
Auston Matthews +2200
Frederik Andersen +2200
Igor Shesterkin +2200
Aleksander Barkov +2500
Cale Makar +2500
Connor Hellebuyck +2500
Jake Oettinger +2500
Leon Draisaitl +2500
Nikita Kucherov +2500
Jack Eichel +3000
Jason Robertson +3000
Sam Reinhart +3000
Andrei Svechnikov +3300
William Nylander +3300
Elias Pettersson +4000
Jeremy Swayman +4000
Mark Stone +4000
Mika Zibanejad +4000
Quinn Hughes +4000
Andrei Vasilevskiy +5000
Brad Marchand +5000
J.T. Miller +5000
Jonathan Marchessault +5000
Roope Hintz +5000
Thatcher Demko +5000

Players not listed at +6000 odds or longer

Before we get to our best bets, let's start with our annual bet on Connor McDavid.

The premise remains the same. Working backward - as we have to do in this market - if the Oilers win the Stanley Cup, what are the chances they do so without McDavid getting credit for being their MVP? My quantitative assessment would be 0%. Edmonton's odds are +750 to end Canada's championship drought. Why bet that when you can get McDavid for as long as +1200?

Best bets

To start our Conn Smythe betting portfolio, we'll look at the teams we think will advance from the first round and go all the way. We'll then analyze those teams' makeups to determine their most likely MVPs. There are two types of teams - goalie-centric and non-goalie-centric ones. The former often has a deeper forward group and a Vezina-level netminder capable of handling the postseason's long haul. The latter is a team like the 2023 Golden Knights or the 2022 Avalanche, who won despite not having a true No. 1.

Auston Matthews (+2200) or David Pastrnak (+1800)

Call it betting's version of "Choose Your Own Adventure" - the Maple Leafs and Bruins have the tightest series price.

In years past, Matthews shared credit for any Maple Leafs success with Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares, and even Morgan Rielly. This year's near-70-goal campaign separated Matthews from the group, definitively making him the most likely player to carry the Leafs if they are to achieve the unfathomable. His odds are far better than Toronto's +1200 to win the Stanley Cup.

If you prefer the Bruins to the Leafs in Round 1, you can take Pastrnak. With Boston committed to a goaltender rotation and "Pasta" 43 points clear of his next-closest teammate, he's the clear-cut choice on a potential championship Bruins team.

Nikita Kucherov (+2500)

Matthew Tkachuk almost won the Conn Smythe as a long shot last year, but with the Panthers favored this time around, the word is out on his candidacy. The Lightning's modest regular season doesn't mean they can't have a big postseason, and no one was better than Nikita Kucherov this campaign. To be dangerous, Tampa will need above-average goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy, scoring from Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman's dominance. But Kucherov's at his peak, and his sheer point volume would make him the choice from Tampa.

Seth Jarvis (+15000)
Teuvo Teravainen (+15000)

If we're looking for a Marchessault-like (28-goal, 57-point regular season) candidate, the Hurricanes have a few. The Stanley Cup favorite is likely to use both Frederik Andersen and Pyotr Kochetkov in the net, and leading point-scorer Sebastian Aho might be assist-heavy.

Jarvis was Carolina's second-leading goal-scorer. The 22-year-old often produced after receiving passes from Aho and led the Canes with 13 power-play goals.

Don't flip a coin between Martin Necas and Teuvo Teravainen. Instead, bet whoever has the longer odds. The second-line wingers also strike on the power play and provide a good lesson about taking long-shot players on great teams versus great players on long-shot teams. Let's grab two Hurricanes at long odds and see if either emerges early with a low-risk bet.

Connor Hellebucyk (+2500)
Thatcher Demko (+5000)

Hellebuyck and Demko are Vezina-level goaltenders for Canadian franchises that are in similar good situations. There are enough capable scorers on the Jets and Canucks to effectively split a Conn Smythe vote. But that shouldn't matter - if a Canadian team brings home the Stanley Cup, it'll almost undoubtedly be on the back of one of the league's best goaltenders.

Miro Heiskanen (+6000)

The Stars' series price against the defending champs is unnecessarily short in the first round, which creates value for any player to win the Conn Smythe. They took the West's top spot without stellar goaltending or a standout scorer, so why couldn't they win the Stanley Cup under the same circumstances? Heiskanen might get credit for everything he does collectively from the back end to make the Stars shine.

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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