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NHL.com players poll: Most fun to watch

Oilers center McDavid leads way; Blackhawks' Kane, MacKinnon of Avalanche also chosen

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

NHL.com asked 48 of the League's top players for their opinions on topics surrounding the game and its players during the 2019 NHL European and North American Player Media Tours during the offseason. An installment of their answers runs each Wednesday. In this edition, NHL players were asked by NHL.com which player they enjoy watching the most. 

Connor McDavid is not only a fan favorite, he is a player favorite as well.

The high-scoring, speed-skating Edmonton Oilers center received 10 votes from the 48-player panel. Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane received nine votes and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon got five to round out the top three.

McDavid's unique blend of speed and skill makes him appointment-viewing for many in the League on nights that they are not playing. McDavid, who has scored 100 or more points in each of the past three seasons, is so electrifying, even his teammates sometimes stop and watch during games.

"I mean, I watch Connor every single day," Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "People see it, but you don't really see it unless you see it every day, the things that he can do. The way he can explode out of any situation is incredible and do the things he does at the highest speed that you can possibly go on the ice, I think, is pretty incredible.

"I think just the way that he does things at top speed. You don't think about it, because he looks like every other player out there. He has his head up. He's making plays. But he's going a lot faster than everybody else. I think what really separates him is when he starts to cross over, you're not getting him. You're just not going to catch him. I mean, as soon as he takes one crossover, he explodes. That's something that is very impressive and tough to do. With the puck, without the puck, doesn't matter. I mean, he's taking off."

Video: Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid notches 6-points

McDavid had some stiff competition from Kane, the 13-season veteran coming off an NHL career-high 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists) last season.

"He's a guy that's really so calm on the ice, I feel," Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. "His hands and his backhand are unbelievable. When he scores like he does on that side, it's pretty remarkable."

Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers watches Kane play regularly, but not just for pleasure.

"He's not the biggest guy either," said Ehlers of Kane (5-foot-10, 177 pounds). "He's got the skill, he's got the speed, he's an incredible player. I like seeing him play, so I can learn from him."

As for Kane, he named Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews as the player he most likes to watch. 

"Usually if I'm at home, I'll try to watch Tampa Bay," Kane said. "I like watching [New York Rangers forward Artemi] Panarin, I like watching McDavid in Edmonton. It's nice to watch someone like [Auston] Matthews who's so skilled and has an unbelievable shot and does some special things on the ice as well. I'd go with Matthews."

Video: BOS@TOR: Matthews nets goal off redirection

MacKinnon had a groundswell of support, including Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

"Something happens every time he's on the ice," Toews said.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who led the NHL with 128 points (41 goals, 87 assists) last season, got three votes, including one from the most valuable player of last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

"Kucherov is a guy I try to watch a lot, especially being a lefty as well," St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "He's one guy you always try to watch, see what he's doing, especially power-play stuff. How dangerous [Tampa Bay's] is, you're trying to pick up little things he's doing. He's one guy you're always kind of drawn to."

Even Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask watches to see what Kucherov will do next, even if most of it is fodder for goalie nightmares. 

"He can be so productive, and he looks like he's not even trying," Rask said.

Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg said he keeps his eyes on another forward, Brad Marchand of the Bruins. He admits it's because he says he never knows what he will see from one of the League's most antagonistic players. 

"He's very aggressive sometimes, but the skill he has too makes him fun to watch," Klingberg said. 

Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault, meanwhile, says his eyes often go to his teammate, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

"Big fan of really good goalies, like Flower," Marchessault said, using Fleury's nickname. "Big fan of a guy like that to watch, especially the way he works in practice. That fascinates me. [Sixteenth] year in the League, and he still looks like a kid out there, wants to get better. So, it's fun to see him every day."

 

Favorite Player to Watch voting (48 votes)

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers, 10; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, 9; Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche, 5; Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers, 3; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning, 3; Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, 3; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 2; Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames, 2; David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins, 2; Matthew Barzal, New York Islanders, 1; Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights, 1; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1; Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, 1; Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins, 1; Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1; No answer 2

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