Who Is The Better NHL Player: McDavid or MacKinnon?

The Hockey Writers

The Athletic put up an interesting poll this week as the NHL All-Star festivities are set to commence. Asking several NHL players questions about others throughout the league, among the questions asked who is the best NHL player? The most votes went to Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Nikita Kucherov.

While McDavid still won fairly handily, the number of votes MacKinnon received was greater than some might have expected. Fair enough as MacKinnon has 84 points to McDavid’s 67 this season. Is there an argument to be made that MacKinnon is, in fact, the better player right now?

The Debate For Nathan MacKinnon

I reached out to one of our contributors, Stefano Rubino, who covers the Colorado Avalanche here at The Hockey Writers. Asking if he could make a case for MacKinnon, I wanted to know what led to MacKinnon’s jump in the poll.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He responded:

“If you ask me who the better player is between MacKinnon and McDavid, I would choose MacKinnon. While McDavid has won individual trophies, hockey is a team sport, and success in the playoffs and winning the Stanley Cup are essential factors. MacKinnon can do everything McDavid can and, in some cases, even better. Although McDavid is excellent on the powerplay, I prefer MacKinnon’s reliability on 5v5 and his ability to help create chances with his burst of speed. Moreover, MacKinnon’s physicality, including his ability to lay hits and block shots and being more defensively sound, helps him be more intimidating on the ice, seen not only as a threat to produce on the ice but also as a guy who can drop the gloves for his teammate.”

He added, “MacKinnon is like thunder where you start to see/hear a distant rumble; you feel it build, and then suddenly, you’re rocked and wondering what the hell just happened.”

Related: Oilers: 3 Biggest NHL All-Star Game Snubs in Franchise History

In The Athletic’s poll, those who selected MacKinnon emphasized his competitiveness, explosive playing style, and commitment to winning as the defining characteristics.

The Debate For Connor McDavid

I took the liberty of making a case for McDavid. Having watched him closely and witnessing up close his transformation over the years, it makes sense to me why he still got a sizeable 69% of the vote. There’s just no one like the Oilers’ captain. Just when you think he’s shown you every trick in his arsenal and believe he can’t ‘Wow’ you with something, he does. His speed — and ability to maneuver while at that speed — is still beyond compare and he’s become a much more well-rounded player.

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Perhaps most impressive about McDavid is his recognition that the Oilers needed to change things up a bit to win games differently. McDavid was dynamic on offense, but his commitment to defense and being more physical this season is evident. When it comes to getting the rest of the team to follow his lead, there are some limitations, simply because his teammates can’t do what he does. But, they can hit. They can backcheck. And, they can play within a system that is more conducive to playoff hockey. He’s leading the charge there and doing everything this season that his teammates can and need to do. That’s true leadership.

Last season, he figured out how to score and did so with ease. This season, he’s backed off a bit from that quest and he wants to play a more 200-foot game. It’s as if each season brings a new challenge. He narrows in a feature of the game and nearly perfects it. All the while, he maintains his elite-level status in the things he was already doing.

Players Believe The Debate for the Best in the NHL Is Closer Than in the Past

Whether it’s McDavid or MacKinnon, one thing seems to be clear. The debate for who the best player in the NHL is has more names on the list than it ever used to. Over the past few years, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin dominated. Then it was McDavid. Now, you can make a case for several players, with the future of the game ever brighter.

For now, the rest of the NHL still thinks it’s McDavid, but the gap is closing. If you had to pick one player, who would it be?

Latest News & Highlights

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com