Connor McDavid winning Conn Smythe Trophy would be as bad as Martin Brodeur's loss

After Saturday night's win over the Florida Panthers and Connor McDavid's record-tying performance, many are saying he should be considered for the Conn Smythe Trophy. His early no-show performance should keep him out of the conversation. This would be as bad as Jean-Sébastien Giguère winning over New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in 2003.
Giguere cools down during break in play
Giguere cools down during break in play / Al Bello/GettyImages

In today's world of covering the NHL, there will always be a contrarian take. Controversy creates cash, as wrestling promoter Eric Bischoff used to say. It’s fitting since the way some are talking about the Conn Smythe Trophy, it feels like it was written by professional wrestling. After an admittedly very good night on Saturday night, many were asking if Connor McDavid should be the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. That would be all well and good since McDavid is, a. the best player in the world and b. having a record-setting playoffs. 

There is one big problem with this: McDavid’s team is down 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final to the Florida Panthers, a team that has been insane throughout the playoffs. This isn’t a team running out of gas against a plucky upstart. The Panthers are by far the best team in the playoffs and deserve to have this lead. 

Yet, we’re still seeing very popular writers and analysts talking about Connor McDavid as the legit winner of the Conn Smythe. 

If we can guess, there are a few reasons this would happen. We mentioned already that McDavid is the best player in the world. People will always gravitate towards that if they can. Also, McDavid is admittedly having a fantastic playoff, tying Wayne Gretzky's record for assists in one playoff. This is a legitimate argument, since the Conn Smythe is for the "playoff MVP" and not the "Stanley Cup Final MVP."

The other argument is one that looks at the Panthers. They are a legit team that's winning from the top down. Sergei Bobrovsky was the leader in the clubhouse for the Conn Smythe because he was also having a legendary playoff performnce. Prior to Saturday night, he had one of the 10 greatest playoff save percentages of all time (he was seventh just behind Billy Smith).

Another option would be Sasha Barkov. He's brought himself back into the conversation for top player in the league. It's been quiet around Barkov after the Matthew Tkachuk acquisition because the latter was the one in the MVP conversation during the regular season. However, Barkov is truly the star on offense (and on defense with Selke level play every night).

This all reminds us of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. Martin Brodeur was having himself an iconic playoff performance. Out of the Devils 16 wins that postseason, Brodeur produced seven shutouts. Yet, the voters went with the flavor of the month, giving Jean-Sebastien Giguere the Conn Smythe Trophy despite losing Game 7 to the Devils.

Giguere had himself a great playoff performance, posting a .945 save percentage. However, and we must continue to drive this home, Brodeur shut teams out seven times INCLUDING IN GAME 7. He would have had an eighth shutout if the Devils scored any goals in Game 4 (they lost 1-0 in overtime). Brodeur kept the Ducks off the board completely in regulation four times in the Final. 

That wasn’t the only heroic performance Brodeur had in these playoffs. He won a triple overtime game to send the Tampa Bay Lightning home. He won an amazing Game 7 against the very good Ottawa Senators. Brodeur had six overtime games in the last three rounds, so he was putting up a lot more minutes than the normal goalie (although GIguere also played a ton of overtime games). 

Listen, Giguere’s performance was amazing, but Brodeur won. Not only did he win, but he was perfect in Game 7 while Giguere wasn’t. Giguere did not face elimination before the Final, while Brodeur was able to overcome the amazing Ottawa Senators. 

That’s the same argument we’re facing here. McDavid could win the Conn Smythe based on what he did before the Final and the headlines he’s produced. We forget that the narrative before Saturday night was McDavid was a no-show in Games 1-3. The Oilers stars could not get anything going. Now we’re giving McDavid MVP? Don’t make this mistake again.