When it comes to predicting the Conne Smythe winners, the obvious names are going to show up on most lists you see - Crosby, Kane, Toews, Fleury, Crawford, and Malkin. Parting ways with your hard earned cash on one of these players is not worth the investment. It's much more likely that one, if not both, of these teams fall short of the Stanley Cup Final. Therefore we have to search for the best bang for our buck choice. Here are my top five value picks for the playoff M.V.P. this year.
1) Zdeno Chara (50/1): I'm a huge fan of Tuukka Rask, but can someone explain to me why he is 20/1 to win MVP and Chara is 50/1? I do agree that goalies have a natural advantage and play the most critical role by default, but it would be foolish to overlook Chara at these odds. There isn't any elite, standout forward on this Bruins team, unless Seguin has a breakout playoffs. Chara is going to log more minutes than any other defender in the league and he has tremendous respect around the league in every media circle. If Boston reach the final, there's no question that Chara will be among the favorites to win the award.
2) Cory Schneider (40/1): If you want to talk about value, look no further than the 40/1 odds for Schneider. Like Rask, Schneider is near the top of the heap when it comes to young, dominating goalies in the league. The Canucks have flown under the radar for most of the season due to some so-so play this year. That doesn't mean we should be underestimating their chances to go the distance though. Schneider has been waiting for this opportunity for a number of years and it could be his turn to carry this club to where it wants to go.
3) Kris Letang (50/1): If you must go with a cup favorite, the only name I would consider would be Kris Letang. I can understand why sportsbooks are giving us juicy odds for a guy like Letang when you have the likes of Malkin, Crosby, Fleury, and Neal in the lineup, but do they know that Letang is right up there with names like Karlsson, Suter, Weber, and Subban? Letang actually finished with 38 points in 35 games this year, tying him for the league lead among defensemen despite playing seven less games. It's possible that the scoring is spread out among the forwards in this lineup, allowing Letang to stand out like the fantasy stud that he is. Let's also not forget that he logs a ton of minutes and knows how to play a strong defensive game, too.
4) Logan Couture (75/1): You know that the sportsbooks have got it wrong when they list guys like Thornton (50/1) and Marleau (65/1) ahead of Couture. For anyone who has watched this San Jose Sharks team over the last couple seasons, they will know that this is now Couture's team. He is certainly a lock for the Canadian Olympic team next year in Sochi, and his talents will be on full display if the Sharks can make it out of the first round. They've very quietly been one of the better teams this year and could make a serious run if they play to their potential.
5) Henrik Lundqvist (50/1): Is there a more polarizing team in the playoffs this year than the New York Rangers? Ok, Maple Leafs aside, the Rangers seem to garner a wide variety of opinions. Many thing they have everything they need to reach the finals, while others think they'll fall short and get bounced in the first round. All of these predictions will hinge on the level of play that Lundqvist displays. He can single-handedly steal a game, and a series, as he consistently ranks among the league leaders in save percentage every year. At 50/1, he's certainly worth a look.