NHL players: Crosby most complete; McDavid tops for clutch
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Hockey Writer
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby continues being regarded by his peers as the NHL’s most complete player, though he takes a backseat to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in having the best chance to produce in the clutch.
Those are among the findings in the National Hockey League Players’ Association releasing its sixth annual and eighth overall survey of players on Wednesday. Overall, 625 players participated in answering 14 questions.
Crosby, a two-time regular-season and two-time playoff MVP, earned just over 30% of the vote in the most complete player category which he’s now won or shared first place for a fourth consecutive year. Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, with 18.8% of the vote, and Florida’s Aleksander Barkov (17.1%), finished in the top three for a fourth straight year, with McDavid ranking fourth.
The tables turned when it came to McDavid — who is running away with the NHL points race — earning 59.3% of the vote in who players would want next to them in a must-win situation, with Crosby finishing second (11%).
In other categories, for the second straight year, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy gained 314 votes as being the preferred choice among players on who they would want in net in a must-win situation. Colorado’s Cale Makar, last year’s Norris Trophy winner, was the runaway leader as top defenseman, earning nearly 64% of the vote, with Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman second (11%).
Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl was regarded as the NHL’s best passer. Newly acquired New York Rangers forward Patrick Kane finished second in the best passer category, while being voted as the league’s top stickhandler for a third straight year.
Dallas Stars veteran Joe Pavelski, with 21.4% of the vote, beat out the Rangers’ Chris Kreider (14.6%) as the player who affects the game most around the net.
Barkov, a seven-time 20-goal scorer, was regarded as the league’s most underrated player.
For a second straight year, Boston’s Brad Marchand was voted as the person players least want to face, but want on their team.
As for the NHL’s best ice surface, Montreal’s Bell Centre won out for a fifth time with 35% of the vote, followed by Edmonton (14.7%), Winnipeg (10.3%), Minnesota (8.6%) and Vegas (6%).
And there was a split regarding which current or former women’s players that NHLers would like to play alongside, with Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin gaining 27.9% of the vote, ahead of American Hilary Knight (20.5%).
In off-ice categories:
— Las Vegas (31.7%) was the preferred road city players most enjoy having a day off, followed by New York (16.4%) and Sunrise, Florida (11.8%).
— Minnesota goalie Marc-Andre Fleury earned 3.8% of the vote as being the best locker room guy, followed by Vegas’ Phil Kessel, Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes and Arizona’s Jakub Voracek, who each finished at 2.7%.
— And Toronto’s Auston Matthews was voted as the NHL player with the best shoe style at 9.1%, ahead of Boston’s David Pastrnak (3.4%).
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