Conn Smythe trophy possibilities for each playoff team

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By PAT PICKENS

The Conn Smythe trophy goes to the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Likely candidates have won it. Some, like Justin Williams last season, were deemed underdogs. Still, with the playoffs started Wednesday, it's time to make our picks.

Here are the most likely winners of the Conn Smythe trophy for each playoff team.

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Conn Smythe trophy possibilities for each playoff team
16. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames. The Flames enter this year’s postseason with the tournament’s fewest points. They don’t have an exceptional goaltender, nor are they equipped with a bunch of play-drivers, except Gaudreau. The 21-year-old rookie has been turning non-believers into Gaudreauites, and if the Flames reach the Stanley Cup final, it’s safe to assume Johnny Hockey will lead them there. (AP Photo)
15. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins might be the East’s last team in, but Crosby has put this team on his back before and carried it for long stretches. The 27-year-old has 114 points in 95 career playoff games. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
14. Andrew Hammond, Ottawa Senators. The Hamburglar inspired the Senators to a 23-4-4 stretch between Feb. 10 and April 11, boosting Ottawa back into postseason, and if the Sens are going to win 16 games to cap the improbable run, it’s safe to assume Hammond will be the guy who lifts them there. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
13. Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets. Big Buff is the first shutdown defenseman on this list and has been Winnipeg’s MVP all season. If the Jets reach the final, it’ll be because Byfuglien -- who won the Stanley Cup in Chicago in 2010 -- shut down some of the Western Conference’s best. (AP Photo)
12. Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild. Devan Dubnyk boosted the Wild to the postseason, and Ryan Suter is a shutdown defenseman, but Parise is the engine that makes Minnesota go. If the Wild win the Cup, it’ll be because Dubnyk carried them to the playoffs and Parise pushed them over the top. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
11. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings. The Magic Man will have to be healthy and dynamic in order for Detroit to last to the Cup final. He’s more than capable of both.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
10. John Tavares, New York Islanders. Tavares is a transcendent player -- dynamic, skilled and an exceptional leader. He posted five points in six playoff games in 2013, and it’s safe to assume if the Nassau Coliseum hosts the Stanley Cup this season, Tavares will be the one lifting the Conn Smythe. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

9. Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks. Unless the Sedins split the trophy -- seriously, they do everything else the same -- it will be Miller who will claim the Conn Smythe if Vancouver wins it all. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

8. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. The Great Eight has his best supporting cast ever, but if the Caps are going to win the Cup, the NHL’s leading goal scorer will undoubtedly be the deciding factor. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

7. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks. The captain won the Conn Smythe in 2010, so this isn’t exactly stepping out onto a limb, and with Patrick Kane’s injured clavicle, the onus falls on Toews to score and shut down opposition. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

6. Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators. Rinne is roundly considered the Western Conference’s best goaltender, and he’s going to have to play like it for Nashville even to make the Stanley Cup final for the first time in its existence. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
5. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning’s leading scorer is perhaps the playoffs’ best natural scorer. He’ll draw tough matchups against whoever Tampa Bay plays, but if the Lightning are going to choose a playoff MVP it’ll be the man they call Stammer. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. Price has been the NHL’s MVP this season, and he is by far Montreal’s best player. He’s going to have to steal both games and series for the Habs to have a chance to win their first title since 1993. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
3. Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues. The Blues have endured early postseason exits thanks to their goaltending. Elliott has been solid all year and will likely have to be the difference if the Blues are to claim their first-ever title. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
2. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have a quandary in goal, so they’ll need their lead goal-getter and chief agitator to carry them if they want to claim their second-ever title. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
1. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers. Lundqvist is fresh and has been the Rangers’ MVP for years. Though Rick Nash took the team award this season, if the Rangers hoist the Cup for the first time since 1994, it’ll be because “Hank” carries them there. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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