Today the NHL released the findings of its annual NHL Players Association Player Poll. There were a number of consistencies from previous seasons. For example, Sidney Crosby was named the most complete NHL player by his peers. In addition, Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL’s best shooter.
However, there were also some surprises — specifically if you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan. Neither Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, players who are considered by many to be two of the NHL’s best players, were hardly mentioned at all in the NHL poll. To be specific, Matthews was mentioned in two of the categories – and was named to have the second-best shot (after Ovechkin); however, Marner didn’t get a vote on the poll (or at least not enough votes to be noteworthy.
Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Season’s Goals, Team Depth & Kallgren Success
The NHL Players Poll’s Questions and the Answers
To offer some context for the poll, over 500 NHL players were asked to answer a number of questions about the league’s top players. These questions included the goalie they’d want on their own team if they had to win one game. They were also asked which NHL player was the “most complete.”
Here are some of the questions asked to players participating in the poll.
Question One: If you needed to win one game, who is the one goalie you would want on your team?
The answers were, in order with percentagtes.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning) – 37.4 percent
Carey Price (Canadiens) – 13.9 percent
Marc-Andre Fleury (Wild) – 6.7 percent
John Gibson (Ducks) – 3.5 percent
Jacob Markstrom (Flames) – 3.1 percent
Jonathan Quick (Kings) – 3.1 percent
Jusse Saros (Predators) – 3.1 percent
Question Two: If you needed to win one game, who is the one skater that you’d want on your team?
Connor McDavid (Oilers) – 42.4 percent
Sidney Crosby (Penguins) – 17.3 percent
Victor Hedman (Lightning) – 6.7 percent
Aleksander Barkov (Panthers) – 3.5 percent
Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche) – 3.3 percent
Question Three: Who’s the best stick-handler in the NHL?
Patrick Kane (Blackhawks) – 57.3 percent
Connor McDavid (Oilers) – 22.8 percent
Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche) – 5.3 percent
Aleksander Barkov (Panthers) – 2.4 percent
Johnny Gaudreau (Flames) – 1.4 percent
Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs) – 1.4 percent
Question Four: Who’s the best passer in the NHL?
Leon Draisaitl (Oilers) – 17.7 percent
Patrick Kane (Blackhawks) – 15.6 percent
Nicklas Backstrom (Capitals) – 15.4 percent
Connor McDavid (Oilers) – 10.6 percent
Nikita Kucherov (Lightning) – 6.2 percent
Question Five: Which NHL player do you wish what you could shoot like?
Alex Ovechkin (Capitals) – 53.1 percent
Auston Matthews (Maple Leafs) – 24.0 percent
Patrik Laine (Blue Jackets) – 3.4 percent
David Pastrnak (Bruins) – 1.7 percent
Steven Stamkos (Lightning) – 1.3 percent
Nikita Kucherov (Lightning) – 1.3 percent
Question Six: Who’s the most complete player in the NHL?
Sidney Crosby (Penguins) – 29.5 percent
Aleksander Barkov (Panthers) – 20.5 percent
Patrice Bergeron (Bruins) – 19.5 percent
Connor McDavid (Oilers) – 9.2 percent
Anze Kopitar (Kings) – 2.6 percent
Question Seven: Which player do you least enjoy playing against, but would like to have on your team?
Brad Marchand (Bruins) – 26.4 percent
Connor McDavid (Oilers) – 8.3 percent
Tom Wilson (Capitals) – 10.7 percent
Victor Hedman (Lightning) – 6.9 percent
Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche) – 5.3 percent
What Should Be Made of Matthews’ and Marner’s Lack of Peer Votes?
Matthews is the NHL’s leading goal scorer. Funny he should be virtually ignored (he did come in second for the best shooter) – by his NHL peers. Marner wasn’t mentioned even as one the best NHL passers. Have Maple Leafs’ fans – like me – simply placed over-accentuated the values of the quality of these two young stars? Or are they simply that – young stars and not yet ready for vote collecting in such a poll?
For whatever reason, these two cornerstones to the Maple Leafs’ team were not given many votes by their peers for their skills. I was surprised to be honest. In reflection, there’s probably little doubt that as a hockey writer I’ve come to value the players on the team I’m covering – more than I probably should.
In fact, I’ve been accused of being too pro-Maple Leafs. Perhaps, that’s so. Still I was surprised by the lack of votes Maple Leafs’ players garnered in this latest edition of the NHL Players Poll.
We’ll see what happens for next season’s poll.
Related: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 3-0 Win over the Red Wings
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