The Associated Press asked 30 top NHL players to name the best hockey player in the world. One catch: players couldn’t pick a teammate. Sidney Crosby received 21 votes, Connor McDavid six, Erik Karlsson 1, two players couldn’t choose between Crosby and McDavid and one couldn’t choose anyone. A look at some of the answers:
JAMIE BENN, DALLAS STARS: CROSBY
"It’s hard not to pick Sid. Just the last couple years that he’s had and his career. I’d have to say he’s the best player in the league right now. … He’s done some great things, Sid. He’s a great player and a great leader. It’s going to be tough to catch what he’s done, but I’m sure somebody will get there one day."
CHARLIE COYLE, MINNESOTA WILD: CROSBY
"Best player in hockey? I would say Sidney Crosby. I think there’s obviously new talent coming up, but I think just his experience now that he’s probably in his prime. He’s got that experience under his belt, he’s been in the league for quite a few years now. Just the way he thinks the game, the way he can move, he’s just such a smart player. I think he’s the best in the game."
MAX DOMI, ARIZONA COYOTES: CROSBY
"I think you’ve still got to go with Sidney Crosby. I’m a big Pat Kane fan and good friend of Connor’s and thrilled with how well he played (last) year. I think Sid, he’s won back to back Cups, still. At this point in his career, he’s just continuing to get better and better. It’s unbelievable to watch. I don’t think you can go against Sid."
JORDAN EBERLE, NEW YORK ISLANDERS: CROSBY/MCDAVID TIE
"I’ve played with both. It’s tough to pick between the two. 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."
JONATHAN HUBERDEAU, FLORIDA PANTHERS: MCDAVID
"Connor McDavid, for sure. So electrifying and on the ice so fast. I play against him once. … He can flip a switch so quick that you’re not ready for it and, boom, he’s gone. The thing I was surprised (about) is you can be like 40 seconds in their zone and you get a little tired and he would take the puck and just fly with it."
ERIK KARLSSON, OTTAWA SENATORS: CROSBY
"It’s a tough one. 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."
DYLAN LARKIN, DETROIT RED WINGS: CROSBY
"He makes the players around him better, more than anyone, I think, and is a winner, wins at everything he does. He’s won the past two Stanley Cups the past two years."
T.J. OSHIE, WASHINGTON CAPITALS: MCDAVID
"It’s a toss-up and I hate saying a Canadian’s name for the best player, but in my opinion it has to be Connor McDavid. Just the way that the NHL is trending, the speed game, what he’s able to do at his top speed, which is faster than a lot of guys’ top speed is just something I’ve never seen before. … I think Sid’s in the talk. With what he’s been able to do continuously throughout his career, his resume I think speaks for itself."
TYLER SEGUIN, DALLAS STARS: CROSBY
"Sid. He’s a winner. He’s a competitor. I think Connor’s a close second, and I think he’ll get there, but I don’t think anyone still can touch Sid yet."
CHRIS TANEV, VANCOUVER CANUCKS: MCDAVID
"It’s incredible. There’s no one better at it in the game that picks up more speed when he has the puck and can make moves at such a high speed. He’s a phenomenal player, and he’s very tough to defend. McDavid, Sid’s just won the last two Cups. It’s 1A, 1B. You could take either/or."