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McDavid says best player in NHL could be anybody; Babcock picks Crosby

Oilers center praised by Penguins captain, but Maple Leafs coach claims 'it's not even close'

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Connor McDavid didn't necessarily agree with Sidney Crosby calling him the best player in the NHL, but the Edmonton Oilers center was appreciative of the praise from the Pittsburgh Penguins captain.

"It means a lot, obviously, especially coming from him," the Oilers captain said Thursday. "But there are so many good players out there, it could be anybody."

Crosby told NHL.com on Wednesday that there shouldn't be much debate over who the best player is.

 

[RELATED: Crosby says McDavid is best player in NHL]

 

"I think McDavid has set himself apart just based on the awards and the accolades he's gotten and the consistency he's had," he said. "I think it's fair to say it's an easy pick just because of that."

Although Crosby declined to include himself in the conversation for best player in the game, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock named him when asked Thursday. 

"I think one guy has got two Olympic gold medals and three Stanley Cups," Babcock said, referring to Crosby. "They're real good players. Sid is 31, a pretty young guy. ... He can still flat out fly, so I don't think he just plans on giving anything away. The other thing is, I saw McDavid play the other night (Tuesday in a 5-4 win against the Winnipeg Jets) and he was an absolute star."

McDavid won the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion (100 points) in 2016-17; he also won the Art Ross last season (108 points). The 21-year-old has won the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the NHL's most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players' Association, each of the past two seasons.

Babcock, when comparing Crosby to McDavid and two of his Maple Leafs centers, Auston Matthews and John Tavares, said only one thing matters.

Video: Who is the NHL's best player: McDavid or Matthews?

"I think the measure in the end for all of us, we're all here for the same thing, we want to have success, we want to have team success," Babcock said. "When you've been the best player on the best team, to me that's totally different from being the best player on a team that's not as good. You've got people around you to raise their game and set a standard, so to me, it's not even close."

The debate has picked up this week because of the hot start to the season by Matthews, and Pittsburgh visiting Toronto for a game Thursday, won by the Penguins 3-0.

Zdeno Chara, whose Boston Bruins lost to the Oilers 3-2 in overtime at Rogers Place on Thursday, gave his vote to McDavid, who had two assists.

"Connor is probably the best player in the League right as of now," the 41-year-old defenseman said. "You have a player like that who comes around maybe once in 20 or 30 years. Wayne [Gretzky], [Mario] Lemieux, Sid, you have guys who come every 20, 30 years and they make a huge impact on the League.

"He's the face of the League right now, he's the best player and we're going to probably have to wait for another 20 years to see someone like that. Maybe sooner, but he's very special." 

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell and correspondents Dave McCarthy and Derek Van Diest contributed to this report

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