To celebrate Hockey Day in America on Sunday and the start of Hockey Week in America, 12 U.S.-based staffers were asked to rank their top 12 forwards, six defenseman and two goalies. Forwards were given 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for a second-place vote and so on down to 1; defenseman got six points for first place, five for second, down to one; goalies got two points for first place and one point for second.
Kane finished first among forwards with 142 points and 10 of the 12 first-place votes. That was nine more points than Matthews, who received the two remaining first-place votes.
Kane is tied for eighth in the NHL this season with 72 points (26 goals, 46 assists) in 58 games, one season after the 31-year-old finished third in the League with an NHL career-best 110 points (44 goals, 66 assists). Matthews has 71 points in 59 games and is tied for the NHL lead in goals with 42. The 22-year-old has scored 153 goals in his first 271 NHL games.
John Carlson of Washington Capitals, who leads all NHL defensemen with 69 points (15 goals, 54 assists) was a unanimous choice as the best United States-born defenseman, earning 72 voting points and all 12 first-place nominations.
Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars, who leads all U.S.-born goalies with a .924 save percentage and 2.38 goals-against average (minimum 15 games) won a three-player race for the top spot, earning 20 of a possible 24 voting points and eight first-place votes. Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets had 11 points and three first-place votes. John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks earned the other first-place vote and had five points.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the voting was the rise of younger players.
Seven of the 12 forwards selected are 25 or younger. Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks are all 22, the youngest of the 12 forwards.
Carlson is the elder statesman among the defensemen at age 30, but Quinn Hughes, a 20-year-old rookie for the Vancouver Canucks, was No. 3. Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets is 22; his teammate Seth Jones, who finished second but is out of the lineup with an ankle injury, is 25, as is Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The youth movement left some older players who had been stalwarts of past United States teams looking in from the outside. Among the forwards who didn't make the cut were two 35-year-olds, Joe Pavelski of the Dallas Stars and Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild, as well as 32-year-old Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes.
Bishop is 33, but he is being pushed by two 26-year-olds.
Here are the results of the voting:
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (142 points; 10 first-place votes)
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (133; 2 first-place votes)
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres (117)
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (91)
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets (79)
Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets (70)
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames (63)
Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights (61)
Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins (59)
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (31)
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (30)
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals (10)
Others receiving votes: J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks (8); Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils (7); Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars (7); James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers (5); Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes (5); Chris Kreider, New York Rangers (4); Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (4); Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets (3); Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks (3); Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild (2); Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins (2).
John Carlson, Washington Capitals (72 points, 12 first-place votes)
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets (57)
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks (28)
Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets (28)
Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes (26)
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins (16)
Others receiving votes : Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (15); Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild (7); Jacob Trouba, New York Rangers (3)
Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars (20 points, eight first-place votes)
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets (11, three first-place votes)
Others receiving votes: John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks (5, one first-place vote)