Last year, goalie Tim Thomas of the Bruins won the award. Although the winner usually comes from the Cup-winning team, several players have won the Smythe while playing for teams that lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.
While we are still midway through Round 2, here's a look at some early front-runners for the Conn Smythe Trophy (in no particular order). I will update this list weekly until the end of the playoffs.
The eighth-seeded Kings have already dispatched the team with the league's best record in Round 1 and are one game away from ousting the St. Louis Blues.
Quick has been the best player for the Kings, and his numbers place him at or near the top of every goaltending statistical category.
So far, Quick has a 7-1 record, ranks first with a playoff save percentage of .948 and has a GAA of just 1.62.
Los Angeles is not a strong offensive team, and Quick usually has very little room for error every time he steps into his crease.
Should the Kings win their first-ever Stanley Cup or even advance to the finals for the first time since 1993, Quick will be a strong contender to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Like Quick, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist plays for a team that doesn't score a lot of goals, and he's the player his team relies on to win hockey games.
Lundqvist leads all active goalies with a microscopic 1.55 GAA and has an impressive .944 save percentage.
Anyone who saw the Rangers' thrilling triple-overtime win over the Capitals in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals can see "The King's" value to the Rangers. He makes several spectacular saves every game and keeps his club close even when opponents are dominating them for long stretches of time.
A strong playoff push is the only thing missing from Lundqvist's impressive resume. He has never gotten past the second round of the playoffs since joining the Rangers in 2005.
If the Rangers return to the finals for the first time in 18 years, Lundqvist will certainly be a Conn Smythe favorite.
Not every player on this list is a goalie. The Flyers' Daniel Briere leads all NHL players with eight goals so far in the playoffs and has been a leader for his club on and off the ice.
Briere is a rare player in the NHL in that he scores at a higher rate during the playoffs, when goals are harder to come by, than he does during the regular season.
Briere is clutch and will be key if the Flyers hope to return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Most experts didn't give the Phoenix Coyotes much of a chance to win the Pacific Division this season, but the Desert Dogs proved their doubters wrong.
Now, they have defeated the Blackhawks in the first round and have a lead against the Predators thus far in the second round of the playoffs.
Goalie Mike Smith has been the best player for Phoenix throughout the postseason. The key stat so far has been his save percentage—an impressive .942.
Smith's strong play gives his teammates more confidence that he can cover up their mistakes. He has led the Coyotes to their first playoff series win since 1987. If Phoenix manages to take home the franchise's first Stanley Cup, Smith will be a strong Smythe Trophy candidate.
Ilya Kovalchuk gets more attention, but perhaps no skater is more valuable to the Devils than Travis Zajac.
The center missed most of the regular season due to injury, but he has been New Jersey's best all-around forward so far in the postseason. Zajac has five goals (including a game-winner) and nine points so far for the Devils.
Coach Peter DeBoer knows what Zajac means to his team. "We wouldn't be here without him," DeBoer said. "A guy who was at a crossroads where he could have stepped away and said, 'Let's go back at this next year.' He worked and refused to take that road. He's been our most effective, our most consistent forward so far."
The Washington Capitals entered the playoffs without their top-two goalies, so Braden Holtby was recalled from Hershey of the AHL. While he started the postseason as a question mark, the rookie goalie's play has been an exclamation point so far.
He outdueled Tim Thomas and the defending-Stanley Cup-champion Bruins in Round 1, and now, he is going toe-to-toe with Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist in the second round.
Holtby has a 1.94 GAA and a .935 save percentage. He has already proved he can win championships in the minors and has solidified his position as Washington's goalie of the future.
If the Capitals reach the finals, Holtby would be their most likely Smythe candidate.