Carolina Hurricanes, 2006
The 14th goalie to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, Ward was also the first rookie since 1987 to win it. A backup that season, Ward replaced struggling veteran Martin Gerber in the first round vs. Montreal and anchored Carolina as it won its first Stanley Cup. He had a 2.14 GAA and .920 save percentage in 23 games, culminating in a thrilling seven-game final vs. Edmonton. "The kid came in when we were down and out," said captain Rod Brind'Amour. "He brought us to life. Goaltending wins championships, make no mistake about it. We had the best goalie in the playoffs."