Who is the most exciting player in the NHL right now? With a new golden age of young, skilled players joining some established luminaries in the League, it's certainly a topic fans can debate for hours. NHL.com posed the question to three staff writers and let them go back and forth. Here are their thoughts:
Dan Rosen, senior writer
This really is a race for second place, because Connor McDavid is the runaway winner and I'll be shocked if you guys can convince me otherwise. His speed is mesmerizing, and the quality of his that amazes me the most is he seems faster with the puck on his stick than he is when skating without it. When I watch the Edmonton Oilers forward play, particularly when I watch him live, I just think about the old FoxTrax glow puck technology and how it seems like McDavid is leaving a trail behind him. He's electrifying, a scoring chance waiting to happen every time he's on the ice. We talk about how the game is all about youth, speed and skill these days. McDavid, who is 22, embodies it all. I can't take my eyes off him even when he's on the bench, because he's so fast you might miss something amazing if you look away.
Video: VAN@EDM: McDavid whips shot to the back of the net
Tracey Myers, staff writer
OK, yes, McDavid is amazing. I won't argue with you on that, Dan. But for me, Nathan MacKinnon is the guy I'm watching whenever he gets the puck. And probably some of that is because I generally cover the Central Division and I'm biased toward said division. Nevertheless, it's entertaining every time the Colorado Avalanche forward starts skating up the ice. It's been especially interesting to watch him lately, as MacKinnon has been THE star of the Avalanche. No Gabriel Landeskog? No Mikko Rantanen until Nov. 30? The injuries meant MacKinnon had to step up his game that much more, and he hasn't disappointed, scoring 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in his past 12 games.
Video: EDM@COL: MacKinnon knocks the bouncing puck home
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
My esteemed colleagues make good cases for McDavid and MacKinnon, but for this debate I'm choosing a heaping portion of Pasta -- David Pastrnak. The Bruins forward has been electrifying and scored 25 goals in his first 27 games this season. That's the fewest games to 25 goals since the Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins needed 26 games to score that many in 1996-97. And like his Czech compatriot Jagr once did, Pastrnak appears to be having the most fun while he's doing this. The joy in the 23-year-old's game combined with his world-class skill -- whether he was blasting a right-circle slap shot past Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price on the rush Sunday or undressing New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich before setting up David Krejci's overtime winner on Nov. 29 -- make each of his shifts a must-watch.
Video: MTL@BOS: Pastrnak scorches one in off the post
I'm not going to argue against MacKinnon and Pastrnak. I'm not an idiot. At least, not for the purposes of this debate. They're elite players having terrific seasons, but again, I stress, do either of them make you watch them when they're on the bench? I'm serious, I watch McDavid when he's on the bench. Maybe not during the shift that directly follows his shift, but soon after that my eyes are going there because I don't want to miss a second of his next shift. He could easily hop over the boards, get the puck, skate in and score before I have a chance to look up from my laptop. MacKinnon is fast, but he doesn't have my attention at all times. Pastrnak is terrific, but he's a goal-scoring threat. McDavid is an everything threat. There is no player as exciting as him. In fact, if I had to pick a No. 2 it might be Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks because of his unreal hands and the things he can do with the puck when he has it in the offensive zone. The veteran forward is like a circus act.
Video: COL@CHI: Kane extends point streak to 14 games
Oh, I thought about throwing Kane into the debate, too. You'd think that would've been the first person to leap to mind for me, but I guess after 10 years, I'm just used to seeing him do insane things on a nightly basis. Seriously, I keep waiting for Kane to slow down, even just a little bit. It isn't happening anytime soon. His goal against the Dallas Stars on Nov. 27, when goalie Anton Khudobin was trying to get back into position, was outstanding. Just holding, holding, waiting until the right moment and then, yep, goal. There's not as many spin-o-ramas these days, but that's the only thing that's been missing from Kane's game.
Video: DAL@CHI: Kane scores PPG to extend point streak
Sure, Kane is fun to watch, too. There are plenty of others we can add to this conversation. How about Alex Ovechkin? The Washington Capitals captain has 20 goals and appears on his way to another 50-goal season, which would be his ninth and tie Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for most in NHL history. But if Dan is going to talk about watching McDavid while he's on the bench, I'm going to add Pastrnak's Dunkin commercial to my argument. Pastrnak poking some fun at himself (and the officials) while getting his cold brew in the penalty box is another example of the cheerful personality that carries into his play. Plus, I know how much Dan loves his daily Dunkin fix. How can he argue against that?
Video: WSH@DET: Ovechkin earns 24th NHL hat trick in 5-2 win