NHLPA player poll: Best road city, top locker room guy and more
Who is the NHL's most complete player? Who has the best shoe game? The league's players answered those questions and many more.
The results of the NHLPA's annual player poll were released on Wednesday, with 626 NHL players taking part in the 14-question survey.
Players had their say on a variety of topics and questions, including best passer, most complete player, top defenseman, best shoe game, which arena has the best ice, favorite road city, player they hate to play against and more.
Here's how the 2022-23 poll shook out.
If you need to win one game, who is the goalie you would want on your team?
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has backstopped the Lightning to three straight finals — including a pair of Stanley Cup victories — was the runaway winner here, amassing a whopping 52.3% of the vote.
Igor Shesterkin (Rangers), Marc Andre-Fleury (Wild), Connor Hellebuyck (Jets) and Ilya Sorokin (Islanders) round out the top five, with each of them earning less than 5% of the votes cast.
In a must-win game, which forward do you think would be most impactful?
In another absolute landslide, Oilers superstar Connor McDavid garnered nearly 60% of the vote. The runaway MVP favorite has put up a season for the ages in Edmonton, becoming the first player since 1995-96 to surpass 130 points while closing in on a number of other major milestones.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, at 35 years old, is still considered the second-best game breaker among his NHL peers, taking 11% of the vote. Nathan MacKinnon (Avs), Nikita Kucherov (Lightning), Patrice Bergeron (Bruins) and Auston Matthews (Leafs) were all in the mix as well.
Who is the top defenseman in the game?
We thought this one would be a little closer but alas, Cale Makar is the players' choice as the best blueliner in the NHL, securing a ridiculous 63.9% of the vote.
Lightning behemoth Victor Hedman placed second at 11.4 percent, while Roman Josi, Erik Karlsson, Adam Fox and Rasmus Dahlin all received at least 2% of the vote.
Who is the best stick-handler?
With 46.1% of the vote, Blackhawks-turned-Rangers star Patrick Kane and his legendary handles took top spot in this one, beating McDavid (28.7%) by a pretty decent margin. MacKinnon, Trevor Zegras (Ducks) and Kucherov round out the top five, finishing well back of Showtime and McJesus, however.
Who is the best passer?
Twenty-five percent of respondents voted Oilers playmaking wizard Leon Draisaitl as the NHL's best passer. Kane (13%) finished second, while Kucherov (10.5%), Artemi Panarin (7.8%) and McDavid (7.7%) rounded out the top five in one of the closer categories of the 2022-23 players poll.
Who is the most complete player?
McDavid may be the best offensive player on the planet, but Crosby, with more than 30% support, was voted the NHL's best all-around player.
Bergeron, at 18.8%, finished second, while Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (17.1%), McDavid (11%) and MacKinnon (4.7%) round out the rest of the top five.
Which player do you least enjoy playing against, but would like to have on your team?
In the least surprising development of the day, the winner of this category is Bruins forward/star/pest Brad Marchand. McDavid, who haunts defenders' dreams on a nightly basis, was once again in the mix at 15.6%, while Capitals forward Tom Wilson (8.1%), Florida star Matthew Tkachuk (6%) and Hedman (3.9%) earned significant votes as well.
Who affects the game most around the net (forward or defenceman)?
Deflection God Joe Pavelski, who has made a living in front of the opponent's crease, was the top dog in this category with 21.4% of the vote.
Rangers forward Chris Kreider, at 14.6%, placed second, while Tkachuk, Isles forward Anders Lee, and McDavid (surprise!) all placed in the top five.
Who is the most underrated player?
The Players Association and hockey fans in general seem to agree on this one, as perennial Selke Trophy candidate Barkov dominated the "underrated" category with 23% of the vote.
It was extremely close after Barkov, as a bunch of players including Tage Thompson, Mika Zibanejad, Sebastian Aho, Jesper Bratt, and Brayden Point received between two and five percent of the votes cast.
Which female hockey player (current or past) would you most want to play alongside?
Women's hockey GOAT Marie-Philip Poulin, thanks in part to clutch goals in four straight Olympic gold-medal games for Canada, tops this category at 27.9%. American star Hilary Knight wasn't far behind at 20.5%.
Canadian legend Hayley Wickenheiser (14.7%) and Americans Amanda Kessel (7.2%) and Kendall Coyne Schofield (4.7%) were all voted into the top five as well.
What NHL arena has the best ice?
Bell Centre (35%), home of the Montreal Canadiens, boasts the best ice in the NHL, according to the players polled.
Two more Canadian rinks in Edmonton (14.7%) and Winnipeg (10.3%) garnered a double-digit percentage of the vote, while the home barns of the Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights rounded of the top five in this category.
What is the best NHL road city to have an off day?
Basically zero surprises here, as sweet, sweet Las Vegas (31.7%) topped this category. New York City (16.3%), Sunrise, Florida (11.8%), Los Angeles (9.7%) and Nashville (9.4%) all received significant votes here as well.
Which NHL player is the best guy in the locker room?
This topic is barely worth mentioning as voters tend to just go with their own teammates, but Fleury, Phil Kessel, Kevin Hayes, Jakob Voracek, Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno rank among the league's top glue guys.
Who has the best shoe game?
Capping off the poll with the most important question of them all. Matthews (9.1%) and David Pastrnak apparently reign supreme when it comes to off-ice style — particularly in the footwear department.
Arizona's Clayton Keller, Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois were all in contention, too.