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McDavid, Price headline ultimate Canada-born lineup

NHL.com experts pick best starting six to honor national holiday

by NHL.com @NHLdotcom

July 1 is not only the start of the free agency period in the NHL, it is also Canada Day.

To celebrate the holiday, we asked 11 of our writers, including three who call Canada home and eight from the United States, to pick the best six-man lineup of Canada-born players currently playing in the NHL, each voting for one goalie, two defensemen, one center, one right wing and one left wing. There were some clear-cut favorites -- although only one unanimous selection -- and some interesting positional battles.

Here are the results (votes in parentheses):

 

Goalie: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (10)

There wasn't much debate here. Price wasn't the best Canada-born goalie in the NHL last season, but there is little doubt that he remains the go-to goalie to win a big game for his country. Price won a gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and helped it win the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship. His credentials in the NHL are impeccable. In his 12 seasons, he has won more than 30 games five times. Since the start of 2008-09, the 31-year-old has won 297 games, a number topped by only Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights (363), who received the other vote.

Others receiving votes: Fleury (1)

Video: NYI@MTL: Price blanks Islanders with 28 saves

 

Defenseman: Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames (7)

The reigning Norris Trophy winner, voted as the best defenseman in the NHL, may have been a late bloomer, but he is being noticed now. He received the most votes among defensemen from our panel, and for good reason. Giordano did it all this season. His 74 points were second among NHL defensemen to Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks (83). He had an NHL-leading plus-39 rating and averaged 24:14 of ice time per game, fifth highest among NHL defensemen. The 35-year-old is not a one-season wonder either. In the past three seasons, he has 151 points, tied for third with Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs among Canada-born defensemen (Burns, 226; Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche, 154). His plus-61 rating during that span is second among Canada-born defensemen to Ryan Ellis of the Nashville Predators (plus-64).

Video: ANA@CGY: Giordano buries slap shot past Miller

 

Defenseman: Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings (6)

Doughty did not have his strongest season in 2018-19, but he has been among the most consistent Canada-born defensemen since entering the NHL 11 seasons ago. His 467 points (110 goals, 357 assists) since the start of 2008-09 are fourth among Canada-born defensemen, and none has averaged more time on ice per game in that span than Doughty (26:17). The 29-year-old won the Norris Trophy in 2016 and has won the Stanley Cup twice with the Kings (2012, 2014).

Others receiving votes: Burns (5); Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues (2); Rielly (1); Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins (1)

Video: CHI@LAK: Doughty's PPG gives Kings overtime win

 

Right wing: Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights (6)

This was a two-man race throughout the voting, but in the end, veteran savvy carried the day by the slimmest of margins. Stone had 73 points (33 goals, 40 assists) last season, which he split between the Ottawa Senators and Golden Knights. Mitchell Marner, meanwhile, had 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) for the Maple Leafs. But Stone has done it for longer, scoring at least 20 goals in each of his first five seasons since becoming a full-time NHL player in 2014-15. The 27-year-old also was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL last season. Marner has averaged 22 goals in his three NHL seasons, but 2018-19 may have been the start of something special for the 22-year-old, who finished with 25 more points than he did the season before. Hold this vote again in two years, and the voting may tell a different story.

Others receiving votes: Marner (5)

Video: SJS@VGK, Gm3: Stone scores 16 seconds in

 

Center: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (9)

The passing of the torch is almost complete to McDavid, who received nine of the 11 votes, surpassing Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins as the No. 1 center in Canada and likely as the country's best player. Last season, the 22-year-old had 116 points (41 goals, 75 assists), 16 more than Crosby (35 goals, 65 assists), who is 31. Since McDavid entered the NHL in 2015-16, he has outscored Crosby by nine points (372-363) despite playing 29 fewer games. The only thing likely holding McDavid from a clean sweep is his lack of big-stage experience. He has played 13 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his career, scoring nine points (five goals, four assists). Crosby, meanwhile, has won the Stanley Cup three times and was voted MVP after two of those runs.

Others receiving votes: Crosby (2)

Video: EDM@VGK: McDavid ties career high with 41st goal

 

Left wing: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (11)

This was a runaway -- and rightfully so. There wasn't a lot of competition for Marchand, who was the only left wing to reach 100 points (36 goals, 64 assists) last season. Jeff Skinner (40 goals) was the only Canada-born left wing to score more goals than Marchand. The 31-year-old was the top-line left wing for a Bruins team that went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and might have been their most important forward. He has been doing it for a while too, scoring at least 85 points in each of the past three seasons.

Others receiving votes: None

Video: BOS@STL, Gm6: Marchand goes top shelf for PPG

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