Crosby, McDavid, Vasilevskiy top 2021-22 NHLPA Player Poll

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The annual NHLPA player poll is back for another season. This year, 566 players were asked 15 questions over the course of the 2021-22 campaign.

There were plenty of on-ice matters discussed like which goalie would you want to win one game for you and who’s shot would you like to have the most. But players were also asked off-the-ice stuff, like which players could excel in sports outside of hockey and who, exactly, has the NHL’s best head of hair.

To start, not a huge surprise who led the voting for “If you need to win one game, who is the one goalie you would want on your team?” Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2019 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2021, got top honors with a commanding 37.4% of the vote. Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens was second with 13.9%. Marc-Andre Fleury (6.7%), John Gibson (3.5%), Jacob Markstrom (3.1%), Jonathan Quick (3.1%), and Juuse Saros (3.1%) rounded out the responses.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

As far as the skater version of that question, it was Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers leading the way with 42.4%. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was behind him at 17.3% Victor Hedman was third at 6.7% and was followed by Aleksander Barkov (3.5%) and Nathan MacKinnon (3.3%).

Crosby was, however, voted the NHL’s “most complete player” (29.5%) ahead of Barkov (20.4%), Patrice Bergeron (19.5%), and McDavid (9.1%).

It’s no surprise who the top two players were for the question of “Which player do you wish you could shoot like?” Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was first taking in 53.1% of the vote and Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews (24%) was behind him.

There are varying reasons why players earned votes for the question of “Which player do you least enjoy playing against, but would like to have on your team?,” but it makes sense when you see the names and understand why. Boston Bruins pest Brad Marchand led the way, as you could imagine, with 26.3% of the vote. McDavid was second at 18.3%; Tom Wilson garnered 10.7% of the support; while Hedman (6.9%) and MacKinnon (5.3%) rounded out the top five.

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Other highlights

• Who has the NHL’s best hair? That would be Cody Eakin (8.9%) of the Buffalo Sabres, whose lettuce helped him topped Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson‘s flow (7.9%).

• Marie-Philip Poulin (43.1%) beat out Hilary Knight (20.7%) for best current women’s player.

• Las Vegas (36.5%) got lots of love as best road city to spend an off day. New York City (17%) was second with Fort Lauderdale (10.4%), Los Angeles (10%), and Nashville (8.7%) also getting some love.

• “Which NHL player could make it in another sport?” got some interesting answers. Noted golfer Joe Pavelski of the Dallas Stars was the leader here (4%) ahead of Anders Lee (football, 3.6%), and Zdeno Chara (basketball, 3.3%).

You can find other topics players voted on such as best stick handler, best model, and which non-NHL athlete you’d want to trade places with for a day, and more at the NHLPA website.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.