The Avalanche won its third Stanley Cup in team history on Sunday night, and in the process Cale Makar won his first Conn Smythe Trophy. Makar, 23, earned the trophy, given to the MVP of the playoffs, by scoring 29 points in just 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
It’s a rare feat for Makar, who is a defenseman. He’s just the third defenseman aged 23 or younger to ever win the Conn Smythe. He’s the first defenseman since 2020 to win the award. That time, Lightning star Victor Hedman won it. This time, Hedman, still on the Lightning, was on the losing end of the Stanley Cup Final.
Not only did Makar win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but he did so in landslide fashion. Makar was a unanimous selection for the award for the first time since the PHWA began revealing votes five years ago, according to Frank Seravalli of Bally Sports.
In just his third NHL season, Makar is already an elite player, and he proved it in this postseason. Using his elite skating and puck-handling ability, Makar shredded every opponent the Avalanche faced in their journey to the Stanley Cup. In Colorado’s opening-round sweep of the Nashville Predators, Makar dominated by notching three points in three different games. Makar was held to just three assists against the St. Louis Blues, but his on-ice impacts were felt every game.
With the Avalanche on the verge of sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, Makar took his game to yet another level. He netted one goal and assisted on four more as Colorado punched its ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.
Against the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, Makar recorded three multi-point games and seven points overall. That includes a two-goal performance in the Avalanche’s dominant 7-0 win over the Lightning in Game 2.
At the ripe old age of 23, Makar won a Norris Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup all in the same season. He is the third player to accomplish that feat, joining NHL legends Bobby Orr and Nicklas Lidstrom. Makar is only getting started, and that is very bad news for the rest of the league.