The first round of the NHL postseason is in the books. After an epic first round that featured five Game 7s, there are still plenty of games left, and plenty of questions left unanswered. There were a number of scintillating individual performances, and this betting guide will offer some insight into the best value plays for who will win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche (+550)
After 10 points in the first round, despite playing in only four games, Cale Makar is the front-runner for the award. However, he is tied with one of his teammates, as Nathan MacKinnon also checks in at +550. Makar is the player with the most value, though, because of his overwhelming involvement in everything the Colorado Avalanche do.
Makar is going to continue to get loads of minutes and will continue to get tons of chances on the power play. He’s a force at even strength, too, and looks dialed in. The biggest hurdle for the Avalanche in the past has been the second round. If Colorado can get through the St. Louis Blues, the sky might be the limit for this team.
Nikita Kucherov (+2200)
The Tampa Bay Lightning survived a seven-game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa’s hopes for a three-peat are still alive. In the middle of everything in that series was the Lightning’s best forward, Nikita Kucherov. He scored two goals and added six assists to lead Tampa Bay in scoring in the series, and more goals are certain to come.
Getting odds like Kucherov’s (+2200) is great value, especially since this team has the experience of winning the last two Stanley Cups. While a three-peat hasn’t happened since the late Mike Bossy led the New York Islanders to four straight from 1980-83, this Lightning team is worth paying attention to. If they win their third consecutive Cup, Kucherov will have to be in the mix for the Conn Smythe.
Carter Verhaeghe (+2500)
Carter Verhaeghe is the dark horse pick on this list but might be worth taking a flier on. The odds are great for him to win (+2500), but there’s a lot of other big-name talent on the Florida roster surrounding him. However, Verhaeghe was the main reason the Panthers are still around in this postseason and not just because he scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 7.
The third-year forward had six goals and six assists in the first round. Those dozen points easily led the Panthers in scoring, and only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (14) scored more points in the first round. Verhaeghe has scored five goals in the last three games, and his confidence has blasted into the stratosphere. If he can keep up anything close to this pace, not only will he be in the mix for the Conn Smythe, but the Panthers will be in the hunt for their first Stanley Cup.
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
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