Will a D-man win the Conn Smythe?

Subban, Doughty could end six-year drought for defensemen

Updated: May 8, 2014, 4:15 PM ET
By Matthew Coller | Hockey Propsectus

P.K. Subban, Drew DoughtyGetty ImagesP.K. Subban and Drew Doughty, both proving efficient in offensive production, should be candidates.

Every postseason, there are new theories about how to win in the NHL. They pop up based on which types of teams make it deep in the playoffs. For example, when the Los Angeles Kings rose from the eighth seed to claim the Stanley Cup in 2012, it was cited as proof that teams should make moves at the deadline to sneak into the postseason. When the Chicago Blackhawks won in 2010 with Antti Niemi in net, commentators and teams said elite goalies were no longer needed to raise the Cup.

Most Cup-winner-based lines of thinking are short-lived.

One theory that always rings true, however, is that a franchise defenseman is required in order to be the last team standing. In 2014, that's proving true again. All of the remaining teams have standout defensemen, and two of the three Norris Trophy finalists are still alive in the postseason.

Yet, for whatever reason, they are rarely rewarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason's most valuable player. Since 1990, there have been only four to win, the previous being Scott Niedermayer of the 2007 Anaheim Ducks.

This year, there are two defensemen who are making a push to end the six-year drought: P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens and Drew Doughty of the Kings.

Offensive threats

Subban and Doughty, considered two of the league's best offensive defensemen, have produced points at an elite level.

Of the top 20 scorers in the playoffs, only six are defensemen. Subban ranks third among all scorers with 11 points in seven games, including the winning goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins. Doughty has eight points in nine games and the most shots on goal of the top scoring group.