Conn Smythe Watch: Leaders for Stanley Cup playoff MVP

The Stanley Cup will be hoisted by either the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars or Vegas Golden Knights. Just as we all predicted.

There are reasons these teams lasted longer than pre-tournament favorites like the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. Chief among those factors: the outstanding individual performances they've received from key players who are now squarely in the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the NHL postseason's most valuable player.

Keep in mind that in the NHL, the Conn Smythe is based on a player's performance during the entire postseason, not just the championship round. The award is voted on by an 18-person panel of Professional Hockey Writers Association members.

We polled a dozen writers, including many who will cover the conference finals, to get a sense of the current MVP contenders.

Here's a look at some of the current leaders for MVP honors, as well as players on the cusp and some big names that have work to do in the conference finals.