Who is the best player in the NHL? While the debate among fans can continue without an end in sight, the argument is much clearer among players in the league.
The Associated Press recently asked 30 of the top NHL players to name the best hockey player in the world. The only restriction was that they couldn’t pick a teammate. Sidney Crosby once again led the way, receiving 21 votes in the poll.
Edmonton captain Connor McDavid came in second, receiving six votes. McDavid, who was recently named the best hockey player in the world in the latest TSN poll, something Crosby said he has no issue with. After all, he knows it’s tough to compare himself, a league veteran who turned 30 this year, to the 20-year-old.
“I have no problem saying that he was the best player in the league last year,” Crosby told USA TODAY. “He should be proud of that. It’s not easy to accomplish what he did.
McDavid was the regular season MVP last year and won the league’s scoring championship with 100 points, scoring 30 goals. Crosby led the way in goal scoring, finding the back of the net 44 times last season.
Yet after seeing the rankings come out, McDavid said he still thinks that Crosby is the best in the league.
“In my mind, I definitely think it’s Sid,” McDavid said. “It is humbling to see those rankings that TSN puts out. It’s a huge honor. I definitely don’t take it for granted or anything like that, I just happen to think a little differently. That’s just the way it is.”
Crosby, though, is just happy to have more great competition in the NHL — and to have it come from another Canadian-born player.
“I think these kind of matchups are good for hockey,” Crosby said. “As a player, you get excited about these kinds of matchups. When you are in Game 50 in February, it’s cool to have these matchups to get you going.”
Two players couldn’t decide between Crosby and McDavid, and one said he couldn’t choose anyone.
Jordan Eberle was one of the two who couldn’t decide. Eberle, who played with McDavid last season in Edmonton before being traded to the Islanders, said they’re both great in their own ways.
”I’ve played with both. It’s tough to pick between the two,” Eberle told the AP. “Obviously Sid and Connor are kind of the best players in my opinion in the game right now. And they’re two different styles. Sid, the work ethic that he has and the way he plays, he’s almost like a very, very skilled grinder. He works that hard. And Connor with his speed just kind of outskates everybody and that’s kind of his main talent.”
Erik Karlsson, who was ranked No. 3 in the TSN rankings, received one vote in the AP’s poll. The Senators captain, though, voted for Crosby himself.
”It’s a tough one,” Karlsson said. “A lot of them obviously, but I’ve always said pretty much and probably always will as long as I play, to me Crosby is the best player. Being able to play against him as much as I have and seeing him as close as I have, I think that he’s someone that year in and year out, ever since he’s got in the league has been the top player.”
To check out the AP’s poll and more player answers, click here.