In NHL player survey, Cale Makar wins big, MacKinnon bested by McDavid

Mar 22, 2023, 2:30 PM

Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar...

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Cale Makar is the best defenseman in the NHL.

That’s not me saying it, it’s his fellow players.

And it’s not like the like Conn Smythe, Norris and Calder Trophy winner needed another accolade, but he received one on Wednesday when the NHLPA released its annual player survey. In a poll conducted anonymously of 626 players this year, Makar ran away with the vote for best defenseman.

In a percentage gap that wasn’t even close, 63.9% of the respondents deemed Makar the best defenseman in the NHL. Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman came in second with 11.4% of the total, while Nashville’s Roman Josi was third with 6.0% of the survey. That means nearly 400 players said Makar is the top dog.

Meanwhile, in a bit of a surprising result, Edmonton star Connor McDavid won big over Avs phenom Nathan MacKinnon in the most significant category at their position. The question was phrased “In a must-win game, which forward do you think would be most impactful?” — and McDavid took it in a landslide.

The Oilers center received 59.3% of the vote for that one. MacKinnon checked in third, with 8.4% of the tally. His good buddy, Penguins veteran Sidney Crosby was second with 11.0% of the total. MacKinnon also got third for “best stick-handler” and fifth for “most complete player.”

Makar being the best defenseman isn’t a surprise. His trophy case is absolutely loaded and he’s only 24-years-old. He legitimately has a shot to go down as the best at his position in NHL history, as Wayne Gretzky alluded to last summer.

For MacKinnon, while he still showed out in a big way, receiving top-5 votes in three categories, some disrespect remains. The Avs swept the Oilers a season ago, and while McDavid is exceptional, that apparently played little to no part in this survey. We’ll see if a second ring this summer could make a difference next year.

If you want to see the full results, including some “off-ice” votes, click here.



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