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NHL.com players poll: McDavid skater most would want to be for day

Oilers center edges Penguins captain Crosby among those NHLers would switch places with

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NHL.com asked 44 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 will appear each Wednesday. The latest edition of the NHL.com players poll focuses on which player the panel would most like to be for a day.

 

It's not just kids who dream of being Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby for a day.

In fact, some of the most accomplished NHL players have thought about trading places with their peers and when such dreaming happens it is most often McDavid, the Edmonton Oilers center, or Crosby, the longtime Pittsburgh Penguins captain, that captures their imagination.

The 22-year-old McDavid was named by 11 players, the highest number of votes by the panel, while the 32-year-old Crosby was named by 10 competitors.

Those that dreamed of being McDavid for a day were captivated by the dizzying combination of speed and skill that he has used to score 100 or more points in each of the past three seasons.

Video: PHI@EDM: McDavid racks up five points in 6-3 victory

"Obviously, McDavid; just to be able to go fast one time," said Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who laughed at the thought of skating at the same speed as the player many consider to be the fastest in the League. 

Added San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl: "I would love to know how it feels flying on the ice and nobody catch me. It would be fun to feel the speed like his. That would be cool."

But it was not merely speed that was of interest. It was also experiencing life as one of the most recognizable faces in the game of hockey and in all of sport in Canada. 

"Just be McDavid and walk through the city to see how much privacy you can get," Carolina Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen said.

The appeal of Crosby also was based upon an incredible skill set, but also how he has employed those skills to win the Stanley Cup three times and to twice win Olympic gold with Canada, as well as a World Cup of Hockey title and first-place finishes in both the World Championship and the World Junior Championship.

"Honestly, I mean, maybe Sid," Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "The things he's accomplished have been incredible. He comes in as the most-hyped player since (Mario) Lemieux, a player of that caliber. Just that expectation and what he has accomplished must be an amazing feeling of success.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes said Crosby is still going strong, which makes his appeal even stronger.

"He's getting older, but his game looks like it's getting younger," Hayes said.

Hayes' teammate, Sean Couturier, is hoping to get some valuable scouting information if his dream ever comes true. He said he would pay attention to Crosby's recipe for success during his 24 hours as No. 87. 

"I want to see the way he lives, what he does to make himself the player he is for so long," Couturier said. "There must be something he must be doing that no one knows. It would be good to know."

Video: PHI@PIT: Crosby goes top shelf from sharp angle

Although McDavid and Crosby were the most popular, other players were on the list as well. Fifteen players received votes and seven of those, including Crosby and McDavid, received multiple votes.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was on three ballots, players intrigued as much by his skill as his fun-loving personality.

"Just the way he lives, the way he spends his summers; you see it on social media," Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg said. "You hear from players that know him well that he is as lot of fun, so I would try his style of living."

Video: SJS@BOS: Burns pots power-play goal through traffic

Erik Karlsson, another Sharks defenseman, received two votes, but each of those was based primarily on what he can do inside the confines of an ice rink. 

"QB on the power play, something like that, just smooth, making good plays," St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly said. "Karlsson, for sure."

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane received two votes, but he also expressed a surprise opinion on who he would like to be for a day, naming New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal.

"I think it'd be fun to be able to skate like McDavid, but I was just skating with Mat Barzal in Florida and he's an unbelievable skater with how he works his edges, baits defenders into chasing him then goes around them," Kane said. "Right now, he's my guy; so I'd say Barzal."

Kane's teammate, Jonathan Toews, was a bit more traditional in his selection; one of three players to name Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. Toews pointed out that Ovechkin has had 50 or more goals eight times in his NHL career.

"You do the math," said Toews, who set his NHL career high in goals last season (35). "Seems like he's having fun just shooting the puck."

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was one of two players to name Kane as the player they wanted to be for a day.

"He's been my favorite player since I was younger," Matthews said. "He can do stuff no one else can really do. I think it would be fun to be him for a day and dangle five guys and make it look that easy."

Matthews got one vote, courtesy of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson.

"Just because he's not Canadian, but he is playing for an Original Six team and obviously hockey is everything in Canada, I think it would be kind of cool to kind of get that notoriety," Atkinson said.

Player for a day voting (44 total votes, three abstentions)

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers, 11; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, 10; Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks, 3; Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, 3; Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets, 2; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks 2; Erik Karlsson, Sharks 2; Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, 1; Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders, 1; Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins, 1; Brad Marchand, Bruins, 1; David Pastrnak, Bruins, 1; Tuukka Rask, Bruins, 1; Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning, 1; Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs, 1.

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