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NHL Awards

NHL Awards nominees split on Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid

Several say they would start franchise with Oilers captain because he's much younger

by Bill Price @BillPriceNHL / NHL.com Editor-in-Chief

LAS VEGAS -- Having picked one player from the unprotected list of each of the other 30 NHL teams, the Vegas Golden Knights' selections will be revealed at the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN). 

But what if the Golden Knights were able take any player in the League as their first choice?

Several NHL Awards nominees were asked that question Tuesday, and the overwhelming choices were centers Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, each a nominee for the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player.

 

[RELATED: Complete NHL Awards coverage]

 

Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, a nominee for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the top defenseman in the League, said choosing between McDavid and Crosby isn't easy.  

"I don't know, it's hard. Sid and Connor are both so amazing," Burns said during media availability at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. "Playing with Sid the times I've played with him, good things just happen with Sid. He's such a great player, such a great guy, he really is just an unbelievable ambassador for the game.

"Connor is quiet but very easy going, easy to get along with. He's going to be so good, he's already such an elite player. He's going to be dominant for a long time."

Video: EDM@ANA, Gm5: McDavid bats in PPG out of mid-air

Crosby has won the Stanley Cup three times and the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, twice in his 12 NHL seasons. McDavid has played 127 games in his first two NHL seasons, scoring 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) to lead the League this season.

But McDavid, 20, is nine years younger than Crosby, and that is why Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, also a Norris finalist, would take him.

"Probably Connor McDavid, because of his age. The upside that he brings and the value he brings to the entire franchise," Karlsson said. "I would have to say if I were a GM, and I had the opportunity, that would probably be the guy."

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby also said he would pick McDavid.

"This time, it would be hard to go away from Connor McDavid. I don't know if anyone would say otherwise based on his age, his talent," said Holtby, who is looking to win his second straight Vezina Trophy as best goalie in the NHL. "He's so exciting to watch, such a pretty skater. He's one of those guys, even the guys in the League have fun watching. He's good for the game of hockey."

Video: PIT@NSH, Gm4: Crosby nets slick backhand on break

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, a nominee for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the League's top rookie, didn't hesitate, saying he would take Crosby, the three-time Cup champion.  

"It's self-explanatory," Matthews said.

McDavid said he would go with a goaltender, singling out Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, but also said it would be hard to pick against Crosby.

Price, a nominee for the Vezina, said he would start with a goalie, and Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau went with his captain, Mark Giordano.

"He's a great leader," said Gaudreau, a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy. "It's been great playing with him my first three years. … I learned so much from him."

Burns perhaps put it best when it comes to picking either Crosby or McDavid.

"It's a hard [question], but it's not hard. You probably can't screw that up," he said.

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