The annual NHLPA Player Poll is out for 2020-21 and there are a number of interesting responses from the 490 players who took part.
According to the union, players from all 31 teams were polled between March and April on topics such as “most complete player,” “most unique tape job,” best Reverse Retro jersey,” and the 2020-21 season alignment and schedule.
Who do the players think is the NHL’s best goal scorer? That would be the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews (46.27%), who beat out Alex Ovechkin (33.82%). Ovechkin (48.95%) did win “best shot” over Matthews (28.78%). There was a clear choice for best defenseman, with Lightning blue liner Victor Hedman (64.71%) dominating the voting. Nashville’s Roman Josi (7.35%) was a distant second.
David Pastrnak (42.32%) beat out Tim Stützle (19.15%) for “most unique tape job,” while Matthews (21.16%) was voted “most fashionable” over the Bruins forward (11.08%).
Best Reverse Retro jersey? That would the Avalanche’s ode to the Quebec Nordiques. Those jerseys got 28.57% of the vote, topping the Kings’ Forum blue and gold looks (10.49%).
The most interesting responses were regarding this season’s format. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divisions were realigned with teams playing a series-style schedule.
To the question of “Would you like to see regional divisions carried forward?” 68.20% of players responded “No.” As COVID-19 restrictions loosen in the U.S. and Canada, players would like to enjoy being able to get out on road trips while visiting other cities. The traditional format would also see them playing against the other teams around the league and not just those within their division.
On whether they would like to see the baseball-type schedule be a thing in the future, 66.3% voted “Yes.” This make sense because it allows for some ease when it comes to travel and time for players to rest. Playing a game, packing bags, and hopping on a late-night flight for a road trip over and over can’t be fun on the body. Being able to set up shop in a city for a few days for a short series could limit wear and tear over the course of a season.
Check out the NHLPA’s website for more Player Poll topics and results.