Golden Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Jonathan Marchessault, one of the six remaining original Vegas Golden Knights, has won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2023 NHL playoff MVP. Marchessault was tied for the playoff lead in goals (13), and he finished second to teammate Jack Eichel in points with 25.

With two assists through the first seven playoff games, Marchessault was nowhere near the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation. Then, he started piling up points like it was going out of style. Over the last 15 games, Marchessault scored 13 goals and added 10 assists.

In the Stanley Cup Final alone, Marchessault totaled four goals and four assists. He torched the Panthers and put an exclamation point on his bid for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The moment was even more incredible because Marchessault, who went undrafted out of junior hockey, won it after defeating his former team in the Stanley Cup Final. Marchessault played for the Panthers in 2016-17 and posted 51 points in 75 games.

After that season, the Panthers exposed Marchessault in the expansion draft and allowed the Golden Knights to select him. Just six years later, Marchessault got his revenge with an exceptional performance throughout the playoffs, and especially in the Stanley Cup Final.

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Phil Kessel takes shot at Maple Leafs after winning another cup

After winning his third Stanley Cup title — this time as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights — Phil Kessel took the opportunity to take his latest shot at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night after starring for them years ago. Kessel, 35, played for the Maple Leafs from 2009 to 2015 and became a somewhat polarizing figure during his tenure with the team.

Dealt to Toronto in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs experienced little success around him. The Maple Leafs made the playoffs just once in Kessel’s six seasons with the team, and Kessel himself faced individual criticism for a lack of winning and a perceived lack of commitment to physical fitness.

While speaking to Toronto-based reporters on Tuesday night, Kessel made certain to remind the city that he hadn’t forgotten what was said about him during his time there.

“Takes me back to my Toronto days. You guys said I couldn’t win, and now I’m a three-time champ,” Kessel said, per Mike Stephens of The Hockey News. “Remember that.”

Kessel was traded from the Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015, and he would go on to play on the Penguins teams that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

This time around, an aging Kessel’s contributions to the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup win were more muted: He scored just 14 goals in 82 games this season and played only four games in the playoffs before being a regular healthy scratch.