Alexei Kovalev: The Next Canadien To Win the Conn Smythe?

Jennifer ConwaySenior Analyst IApril 11, 2008

In 1994, a scheduling snafu prevented Alexei Kovalev from having his day with the Stanley Cup. Will he get another chance this year?

If he does, he just might become the 10th Canadiens player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. 

He’s got a lot of raw talent. Some have accused him of never actually converting that talent to NHL games. Others blame his work ethic as well. Whatever the reasons, when he has his mind on the game, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Especially in the playoffs.

In 1998, after earning only 46 points in 63 games, Kovalev stepped up in the playoffs with 12 points in 10 games.

Again in the 2003-2004 season, Kovalev broke out with six goals and 10 points in 11 playoff games with Montreal.

This year, his game has found a new level. He’s currently occupying the last spot on the top 100 all-time NHL scorers list after scoring 35 goals on a line with Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec. Who knows what he can do this postseason?

Yes, he’s had lackluster years and his share of controversy, especially after comments he supposedly made to a Russian reporter last year.

This season, though, he’s redeemed himself.  He won the Molson Cup for the year, after winning the segments from November to February. He’s 11th in the league with 84 points and he did not miss a single game this season.

Most importantly, he’s wearing the “C” with pride and leading the team after Saku Koivu’s injury. He’s matured enough to know what kind of responsibility he now has.

The fact he can do this doesn’t hurt either.

Or this.