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2020-21 NHLPA Player Poll Results with Two Lightning Players taking top spots

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Which Lightning players do their peers think highly of?

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NHLPA released their annual NHLPA Player Poll. This has been something the NHLPA has done for a while now, and this year almost 500 players took part in the polling. I always find these very interesting because you’re getting the collective opinions about players directly from their peers, the guys they face on the ice night in and night out. While we still may disagree with some of the opinions the players hold, it’s still an interesting look at the reputations that players have among each other. Let’s take a look at which Lightning players appeared in the poll results

Who is the best defenseman?

Victor Hedman takes this one for the third season in a row. He takes 64.71% of the vote, well ahead of Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche who came in with 7.35%. Makar is the lone young defenseman on this list with former Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty and John Carlson, a Norris finalist last season, rounding out the top five.

Who is the best goalie?

Not much of a surprise here as Andrei Vasilevskiy takes the top spot with 54.12%. Marc-Andre Fleury, who had a Vezina caliber season himself, came in second with 8.88%. Carey Price has ridden his reputation for a while in these polls, despite analytics showing he’s been on the decline from his career highs. Price was the top goaltender in the three previous polls.

If you need to win one game, who is the one player (any position) you would want on your team?

This question ended up being pretty interesting. Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby took the top two spots with 36.74% and 23.04% of the vote. They’re both generational players and among the best players we’ll ever see in our lifetimes. Nathan MacKinnon followed them up in third, and that’s understandable as he has game breaking offensive skills. Then comes Patrice Bergeron and Andrei Vasilevskiy tied at 4.57%. I’m assuming from the order that Vasilevskiy finished just a vote or two behind Bergeron. Vasilevskiy ended up being the only non-forward in the top five and it makes sense. If you have to win a game, it doesn’t matter how much McDavid, Crosby, or MacKinnon can score if their goalie lets in even more goals. Vasilevskiy could win a game all by himself.

2021-21 Season Opinions

These questions aren’t about players themselves, but questions they were asked about the season so I’ll go through these pretty quickly and offer some of my own opinions on the question.

Would you like to see regional divisions carried forward?

68.2% said No. I agree with the players here. I want to go back to the divisions like we had before.

Would you like to see a series-style schedule carried forward?

66.3% said yes. Once again, I agree here. While your opposite conference games could never be a “series” since you only play them on the road once in a normal season, it is easier on travel for players to get to stay in a city for a few days and play two games there. I would also like to see back-to-backs be almost exclusively a series style. It’s tough on players to play a game, pack their stuff, get on a plane, fly 2-4 hours, get off the plane, maybe go through customs if they crossed the border, get to the hotel, settle in, and get some sleep, and then wake up and immediately be back at the rink and getting ready to play. By staying in the same hotel, they get to just walk or bus back to the hotel, and get right to sleep and have the next day be a pretty normal game day. I think we’d also get a better product on the backside of back-to-back games this way.

Which Reverse Retro jersey is your favourite?

The Colorado Avalanche took the top spot with 28.57%. Obviously I’m a bit biased and like the Lightning’s Reverse Retros, but the Avalanche wearing Nordiques jerseys is pretty cool. I really liked the Minnesota Wild’s North Stars themed Reverse Retros which was 4th among the players with 6.03% of the vote.

Conclusions

Out of sight, out of mind seems to have hurt Nikita Kucherov among his peers in this year’s voting. He came in fourth in the “Who is the best forward?” question last season. The loss of the “Who is the game’s best trash-talker?” question also took Pat Maroon off of the poll results. It’s also disappointing to see that the NHLPA dropped the “Who is the best female hockey player in the world?” question from the poll this year.