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Surprising Player Emerges as Conn Smythe Favorite

Published May 18, 2023 at 2:36 PM
BY JAMES CONNELLY
It is well known that the Carolina Hurricanes are built on their defense and depth but could one of those players wind up becoming the playoffs MVP?

Surprising Player Emerges as Conn Smythe Favorite



Jaccob Slavin is known as one of the most, if not the most, elite shut-down defensemen in the NHL. While Slavin's point totals will not jump out on the stat sheet (6 points in 11 playoff games), his defense is invaluable.

In a new model from statistician Dom Luszczyszyn, it projects Slavin as the number 1 candidate to win the Conn Smythe, ahead of stars like Matthew Tkachuk and Jack Eichel.

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In the model, it accounts for offensive rating and defensive rating, and Slavin's 2.2 defensive rating is higher than any other player. The closest to him in terms of defensive rating is Miro Heiskanen with a rating of 1.7 which is far from Slavin's rating.

Can Shutdown Defenseman Win the Conn Smythe



They absolutely can!

In Luszczyszyn's article on the model, he points to the 2000 Conn Smythe winner, Scott Stevens.

While Stevens and Slavin play a very different style of game (Slavin having won a Lady Byng and Stevens being notoriously dirty), they were/are both elite in their own zone and if the voting committee were to take that into account, Slavin could win the Conn Smythe if the Canes win the cup.

All in all, Slavin is a massive part of the Hurricanes' core and having a player of his caliber is a massive luxury not many teams are afforded.
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