The Conn Artist: Has Jonathan Toews Already Won the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Bobby KezneikCorrespondent IMay 24, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 23:  Jonathan Toews #19 and Brent Sopel #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate as the Blackhawks defeat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup after winning Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 23, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The NHL playoffs are a time that really shows the true colors and characters of NHL forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders.

There are two types of "MVP" awards in the NHL.

One is in the regular season, and it is called the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is annually awarded to the best player of the season.

Then there is one for the NHL playoffs, and it is called the Conn Smythe Trophy. This award goes to the player (or goalie) who proves to be the most valuable player throughout the postseason.

Some fans may think that the Conn Smythe Trophy is the more important trophy and the one that truly shows who the best players are.

Obviously this is because the NHL postseason is a very different time and the stakes are higher, and to be the best player out of an 18-man roster from 16 teams, which will roughly end up being about 300 players, is a pretty great accomplishment, especially when you are heavily favoured to win it all. Talk about pressure.

Or how about being the best player out of 300 while being just 22 years of age and in your third NHL season and being the captain of arguably the best team in the NHL?

Now that's pressure...

This is where Jonathan Toews comes in.

Toews has recorded 26 points in 16 games in this year's playoffs, averaging 1.62 points per game. Toews is plus-four and is averaging an outstanding 17.5 shooting percentage, along with a great 57.9 face-off percentage. He's also averaging over 20 minutes a game.

However, those are just the numbers, and don't get me wrong, because the numbers have been outstanding.

But it's more than the stats that make Jonathan Toews the clear front runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Toews is only in his third season in the NHL and already proudly wears the "C" on his uniform.

"Captain Serious," as his teammates like to call him, has shown true dedication and determination to his game.

A great example is his Game Three defensive play when he blocked Dan Boyle's shot from the point, which ended up leading to a go-ahead goal scored by Dave Bolland.

Toews is currently riding a 13-game point streak in the NHL playoffs, which is a Chicago Blackhawks franchise record and the third longest in NHL playoffs history.

He is one of the best defensive forwards in the game today and is proving to everybody that he can provide for his team in almost any situation.

Just rewind back to the World Juniors, when Toews scored three straight shootout goals against USA.

Or think back to the Olympics, when Toews was named the tournament's best forward. That really says a lot considering that the best hockey players around the world were all there.

Now he is stealing the spotlight and is showing that he can be one of the league's elite players.

Win or lose the Stanley Cup Final, this is without a doubt Jonathan Toews' best season in his young career.

Should the Chicago Blackhawks not win the Cup, does that mean that we take away from Toews' magnificent play?

I know the Conn Smythe Trophy usually goes to a player that won the Stanley Cup, but Toews' performance in these playoffs is just too hard to ignore.

When Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe last season, he and the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Malkin registered 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points in 24 games, averaging 1.50 points per game.

Toews will not be able to play as many games as Malkin in these playoffs (maximum games he can play is 23), but he can certainly match his number of points.

Assuming the Flyers advance to the Final, unless Michael Leighton records another three shutouts, I don't see anybody winning the Conn Smythe Trophy other than Jonathan Toews, regardless of the outcome.