In my October NHL Preview, I pegged San Jose's Joe Thornton to claim the Conn Smythe Trophy, following the Sharks' Stanley Cup Final victory over the New York Rangers.
With the exception of the Eastern Conference representative, I still think that my prediction will pan out.
After the annual Red Wings playoff choke-job is complete, I like the Sharks in the West. They have playoff experience to draw from and have added pieces during the season to prime them for a Cup run.
With talented players like Milan Michalek and Patrick Marleau already in place, San Jose traded for defenseman Brian Campbell at the trading deadline.
Campbell has been a point a game player since joining the team and makes the Sharks that much more dangerous.
Still, the leader of the team is Thornton. He led the team in both goals and assists (29-67-95) during the season, and his success will be critical for San Jose to make a deep run into June.
Thornton has shown this ability throughout his career in San Jose, and has another great opportunity to do this season.
In late June, I expect to see Gary Bettman presenting the Conn Smythe Trophy to one of the league's best, and the Sharks will have their first Stanley Cup Championship.