NHLPA Player Poll: Connor McDavid, Alexsander Barkov, Erik Karlsson all given nods by peers
The NHLPA’s annual Player Poll was released on Wednesday, giving fans a look at how NHL players across the league voted on various hockey and non-hockey questions. The poll serves to provide some collective insight into where players land on certain subjects, from “who’s the game’s best forward?” to “which player has the best hair?”
Over 500 players were surveyed throughout the course of this season and, as usual, the poll results brought some no-brainers in certain areas while also delivering some surprising winners in other spots. Let’s take a look at how it broke down.
Best forward: Connor McDavid (63.6 percent)
Yeah, I mean… obviously.
Best defenseman: Victor Hedman (31.7 percent)
That’s a major jump from the 7.7 percent that Hedman earned in last year’s poll (though the question was worded “Which defenseman is the toughest to play against?”) but I suppose it’s what winning a Norris Trophy in the offseason will do for you.
Best goalie: Carey Price (29.9 percent)
Price has had a little bit of a down year in Montreal this season but he’s still arguably the biggest name between the pipes so this isn’t a major shock. One noteworthy snub here is Ben Bishop. He should be a Vezina finalist this year and didn’t even make the top five in voting.
Best shot: Alex Ovechkin (50.2 percent)
Half the votes? Not bad for a 33-year-old.
Most underrated: Alexsander Barkov (21.5 percent)
How many times does a player have to be called “underrated” before he becomes adequately rated? There may not be a clear answer, but Barkov has to be getting close. Maybe once he gets out of Florida.
Most difficult player to play against: McDavid (30.9 percent)
McDavid and Sidney Crosby (16 percent) have flipped spots in the category this year. Last year, Crosby won with 29.9 percent of the vote.
Player you’d start a franchise with: McDavid (60 percent)
Hopefully that franchise isn’t run by Peter Chiarelli!
Best trash-talker: Brad Marchand (21.3 percent)
This comes as little surprise if you know anything about Marchand. However! In an odd twist of fate, Marchand also took home the crown for Worst Trash-Talker this year, landing 12.5 percent of that vote. I guess not all your chirps can be winners.
Best TV analyst once they retire: PK Subban (10.8 percent)
Considering Subban has already served in that role while still playing, it’s pretty shocking he only got 10 percent of the vote.
Best GM once they retire: Sidney Crosby (5.5 percent)
Could we have a Mario-Sid front office in our future?
Funniest player: Keith Yandle (12.1 percent)
Yandle is very funny and extremely well-liked around NHL circles, so this isn’t entirely surprising. It’s strange that Marchand didn’t land in the top five here considering he won best trash-talker.
Best current female hockey player: Hilary Knight (27.6 percent)
Knight narrowly edged out Canada’s Marie Philip-Poulin. U-S-A, U-S-A!
In what might be the most controversial result of the entire poll, Erik Karlsson won “Best Hair” with a stunning 18.4 percent of the vote. Maybe even more shocking than the result was the picture they chose to display.
No offense to Karlsson’s long, flowing locks, but that is a rather generous honor from his peers — many of whom have much better hair. Henrik Lundqvist somehow managed to take home just 6.6 percent of the vote despite having nearly immaculate lettuce and a Head & Shoulders sponsorship. Some other notable snubs from the hair category were Brock Boeser and Kris Letang, neither of whom placed top five in voting.
In other results, T-Mobile Arena took home “Best Arena Atmosphere” with a whopping 42.5 percent of the vote. That number is surprisingly high, but we all saw how crazy the Vegas crowd was throughout last year’s improbable run. T-Mobile also landed fifth on the “Best Ice” vote (Montreal’s Bell Centre won). Not bad for a building that’s only a few years old, huh?
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Gritty won “Best Mascot” in a landslide, taking home 69.4 percent of the vote. (Nice.)
Also filed under “not surprising” is that Henrik Lundqvist was named the best-dressed player with 25.8 percent of the vote. PK Subban only earned 7.6 percent in that category, which is surprisingly low… but also rather coincidental given his jersey number.
Golf was named as players’ favorite sport outside of hockey, with Tiger Woods taking home favorite non-hockey athlete.
In one of the more interesting questions posed to players, 66.8 percent said that they would be in favor of having an instance where they could sport nicknames on the back of their jerseys (like MLB‘s “Players’ Weekend”) so that could potentially be in the cards for the NHL at some point.