NHLPA Player Poll: McDavid, Crosby and Marchand highlight annual voting - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

NHLPA Player Poll: McDavid, Crosby and Marchand highlight annual voting

Which team has the best jersey? Who's the worst trash-talker in the NHL? The NHLPA membership weighs in on this and more in the 2019-20 player poll.
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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL in a holding pattern and nothing major on the radar, the NHLPA has swooped in and offered some sweet relief from the doldrums of a campaign on pause with the release of its annual player poll.

The results, of course, are inconsequential, but it's an entertaining read, and that's something we all need at a time like this. So, via the NHLPA, here's a look at the results of the 2019-20 player poll which collected results from more than 500 NHLers over the past several months.

(Note: Not all 500-plus players voted on every question.)

WHO IS THE BEST FORWARD?
Connor McDavid – 68.3%
Sidney Crosby – 14.9%
Nathan MacKinnon – 6.7%
Nikita Kucherov – 2.9%
Other – 7.2%

No real surprise at No. 1. In the midst of his best season yet, McDavid bounced up five percentage points and has taken firm control of the polling for best forward. The top four otherwise stays the same, but Kucherov, less than one season removed from posting one of the best offensive outputs over the past 30 seasons, fell from 3.6 percent to 2.8 this time. Still, is there any doubt that McDavid is the best player in the NHL today? Not a chance.

WHO IS THE BEST DEFENSEMAN?
Victor Hedman – 37.9%
John Carlson – 21.3%
Roman Josi – 9%
Drew Doughty – 6.5%
Brent Burns – 6.54%
Other: 18.7%

Hedman has either won or finished as a top three finalist for the Norris Trophy for each of the past three years. If that doesn't say something about his value, nothing will. Hedman is once again a favorite for the trophy this season, but Washington's Carlson has had an offensive season for the ages and would have surely hit 80-plus points if the season was to go the distance. Josi saw a nice three percent boost in voting this season as he continues to cement himself as one of the best defenders in the game today. Doughty and Burns show why they're future Hockey Hall of Fame candidates as mainstays near the top even in tough seasons.

WHO IS THE BEST GOALTENDER?
Carey Price – 41.6%
Andrei Vasilevskiy – 17.1%
Marc-Andre Fleury – 8.9%
Sergei Bobrovsky – 5.6%
Other: 26.8%

For the second straight season, Price finished first in NHLPA voting (he won the old award for toughest goalie to face in 2017-18), but it comes the season after he finished seventh in Vezina Trophy voting. In fact, he gained 11 points in voting, and it's interesting to see how much players value the Canadiens netminder over GMs, who vote for the goalie-of-the-year award. Despite being Montreal's best player most nights, Price's stats have been rather average this season. Pekka Rinne was the only goalie to fall out of the top four, while Bobrovsky, despite his rough campaign in Florida, actually saw a decent increase to 5.6 percent from 4.8 percent last season.

PLAYER YOU WOULD WANT ON YOUR TEAM TO WIN ONE GAME
Sidney Crosby – 44%
Connor McDavid – 30.6%
Nathan MacKinnon – 4.1%
Patrice Bergeron – 3.3%
Other – 18%

Again, no surprise to see Crosby and McDavid at No. 1-2, but it's interesting to see them switched from the forward voting. But then again, Crosby's game has been built around big moments. Whether it's the Golden Goal at the 2010 Olympics, three Stanley Cup titles or the 11 individual trophies he's garnered over his career, Crosby has been a model of skill, consistency and leadership since Day 1 in Pittsburgh.

MOST COMPLETE PLAYER
Sidney Crosby – 45.6%
Patrice Bergeron – 25.4%
Aleksander Barkov – 7.5%
Ryan O'Reilly – 5.3%
Other – 16.2%

This is basically an incognito Selke Trophy race. Again, Crosby topped this category for many of the same reasons why players want him on their team more than anyone: Crosby is such a well-rounded player and can do everything well. When it comes to winning games and creating plays, few players have as much of an impact on an individual game as Crosby, but you can't go wrong with someone like Bergeron. It's also worth noting that other than Barkov, the three names in the running have been big contributors on Stanley Cup championship-winning squads.

BEST TRASH-TALKER
Brad Marchand – 25.9%
Drew Doughty – 13.4%
Ryan Reaves – 11.1%
Patrick Maroon – 3.8%

You always expect the league's toughest players to land on this list, and there isn't a single team who wouldn't want a guy like Marchand on their team. The feisty forward has emerged as a 100-point forward in the past few seasons, so adding that on top of his already fiery personality makes him an absolute pain in the you-know-what to play against. He's a back-to-back winner, not only in this category, but...

WORST TRASH-TALKER
Brad Marchand – 10.6%
Drew Doughty – 6.9%
P.K. Subban – 6.9%
Nick Cousins – 5.6%

...worst trash-talker, too. It's safe to assume that with Marchand and Doughty at No. 1-2 in both categories, the players voting on the worst are those who are driven mad by the trash-talking antics. Last year, Nick Cousins also made both lists, but he wasn't invited to the best list this time around.

WHICH LEGEND WOULD YOU PAY TO SEE PLAY?
Wayne Gretzky – 31.8%
Bobby Orr – 15%
Mario Lemieux – 9.2%
Connor McDavid – 7.8%
Other: 36.1%

Well, duh. He's 'The Great One'. Of course players are going to respect the biggest name the sport has ever seen. There isn't a single bad choice of the four listed, but you have to wonder how deep the options go for over 36 percent of players to choose someone else.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE PLAYERS' PERSONALITIES EXPRESSED?
Yes – 53%
No – 47%

HOW?
Skates – 40.6%
Sticks – 4.7%
Helmet – 3.2%

The NHL has long failed to capitalize on the game's bigger personalities and it's common to see players ridiculed for venturing outside the norm. It's interesting that asking if players should be able to express their personalities through equipment is so close, but at least a good portion of the respondents agree that skates – an area ripe for unique designs – offer the best avenue for showing some flair.

BEST WOMEN'S HOCKEY PLAYER
Marie-Philip Poulin – 39.9%
Hilary Knight – 36.3%
Kendall Coyne-Schofield – 15.5%
Emily Matheson – 1.4%

It's a shame the world's top women's hockey players didn't get to strut their stuff on the global stage this season, but the exhibition game during the NHL All-Star Game festivities proved just how talented the players are. Poulin is like the Crosby of women's hockey: she has scored enough big goals in her career to make her a future Hockey Hall of Fame member. Even at her worst, she's one of the best players in any given game.

SHOULD THE NHL ADOPT A RELAXED GAME-DAY DRESS CODE?
Yes – 73%
No – 27%

This one is rather straight-forward. The NBA does a great job of allowing players to wear essentially anything they want – and going back to the personality conversation, it shows just how far ahead the rest of the leagues are when it comes to promotion. All in favor of allowing players to dress up as bananas?

FUNNIEST PLAYER
Keith Yandle – 18%
Drew Doughty – 6.9%
Brad Marchand – 5.7%
Phil Kessel – 4.7%
Other – 64.7%

Yandle showed his lighter side in interviews with Paul Bissonnette and, clearly, players still consider him the class clown. Doughty and Marchand's inclusions are no surprise given their status as best and worst trash-talkers, but it's nice to see Kessel make it, too.

BEST BROMANCE
David Perron/Ryan O'Reilly – 6.4%
Joe Thornton/Brent Burn – 5.1%
Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner – 4.6%
Matthew Tkachuk/Drew Doughty – 3.7%
Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin – 3.7%
Brad Marchand/Patrice Bergeron – 3.7%

There were a host of great options here, highlighted by 72.9% of the vote going to players not listed above. The winning duo will be remembered for their funny Halloween costumes when they dressed as each other and added to the lore with a fun all-star game weekend on home ice. Still, it's a travesty that the Tkachuk/Doughty funfest didn't land higher.

BEST PLAYER TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA
P.K. Subban – 13.6%
Alex Ovechkin – 6.3%
Brad Marchand – 4.4%
Max Domi – 4.4%
Other: 71.4%

Again, no surprise here. He doesn't have the biggest following, but Subban has a personality built to thrive on social media and you can tell he's going to have a future in business when he hangs up the skates. One of the surprise omissions from the top four is Artemi Panarin, who has really upped his Twitter game since joining the New York Rangers this summer and is truly personifying his 'Breadman' nickname.

WHICH PLAYER ISN'T ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUT SHOULD BE?
Sidney Crosby – 25.7%
Joe Thornton – 7.1%
Tyler Ennis – 5.5%
Jay Bouwmeester – 3.8%
Other: 57.9%

After giving one of the most candid interviews of his career earlier this season, fans and players alike were hoping to see one of the game's best players turn to social media. It hasn't happened yet, but he's one of the biggest athletes to not have any presence on a major social media network.

BEST NICKNAME
Tomas 'Tuna' Tatar – 8.1%
David 'Pasta' Pastrnak – 7.3%
Artemi 'Breadman' Panarin – 5.8%
Christian 'Stinky' Fischer – 2.7%
Other – 76.2%

There's a heavy food presence on the list this year, and, thankfully, none of them include the ultra generic 'Soupy'. Tatar's 'Tuna' takes the cake for the second year in a row with a big jump up from 5.7 percent to 8.1 percent. The only player from the top four to lose his spot is Marko 'Snacks' Dano, but he'd be back if he was still an active NHLer.

BEST GOLFER
Joe Pavelski – 15.8%
Tyler Bozak – 5.6%
Justin Schultz – 4.1%
Cal Clutterbuck – 3.8%
Mark Stone – 3.8%
Greg McKegg – 3.8%
Other – 63.1%

Golf has always been the choice pastime of hockey players during the off-season, and if the NHL doesn't resume this year but the rest of the world returns to normal, the links will be flooded with NHLers. Pavelski has participated in many tournaments in the past, so he must be good if he has that much of an advantage over the rest of the league.

BEST VISITORS DRESSING ROOM
Edmonton – 38%
Vegas – 26.5%
Detroit – 23.3%
Pittsburgh – 6.8%

Is it a surprise that four of the five newest rinks in the league make this list? It's almost like modern technology has allowed for a better experience. The visitors' room at Rogers Place is clean, sleek and welcoming – until you hit the ice and have to face the loud, passionate Oilers fanbase. It's too bad there aren't any sword fights or fireworks displays in the Golden Knights' road room.

BEST JERSEY
Chicago – 28.3%
Vegas – 6.8%
Toronto – 6.8%
NY Rangers – 6.4%
Other – 51.7%

Don't mess with the classics. Three of the top four choices come from the Original Six, with Vegas as the lone outlier. Of course, that sets a tough precedent for Seattle: your expansion counterparts have some of the league's best threads, so you've got to one-up that. There aren't many bad jerseys these days, but the Stadium Series generates some of the ugliest designs around.

BEST ICE
Montreal – 31.8%
Edmonton – 16.8%
Winnipeg – 11%
Vegas – 8.8%
Other – 31.8%

For the third year in a row, this result was no contest. Just ignoring the actual ice surface, it's hard not to get chills when you're at the Bell Centre. When it comes to facilities, you can't expect anything but perfect from the Canadiens – but the fanbase wishes that applied to the on-ice product, too.

BEST MASCOT
Gritty – 69.7%
Gnash – 2.8%
Howler – 2.8%
Bailey – 2.5%

Just like with Gretzky: well, duh. Gritty was an instant fan favorite when he debuted last season and that won't change in the near future. Gritty's personality not only translates well in Philadelphia, but online and in pop culture, too.

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