Fans love the Annual TSN Player Rankings, which traditionally comes out before the start of the NHL’s regular season.
It creates endless debate on social media channels such as Twitter as stats and opinions are exchanged on why someone’s favourite player should be ranked at or near the top. With the rise of Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar this season and the crowning of Toronto Maple Leaf center Auston Matthews as league MVP, should Connor McDavid still be considered the unofficial best player in the game? Will McDavid finish number one in TSN’s player rankings for the sixth year in a row?
Here’s a list of reasons why Makar and Matthews might have to wait their turn as McDavid is still worthy of carrying the crown of World’s Best Hockey Player.
7 Reasons Why McDavid Is Still the Best Hockey Player in the World
- McDavid led the playoffs in scoring with 33 points despite that the Oilers lost in the third round (runner-up Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers deserves some respect, too, as he finished second in playoff scoring with 32 points, and he did it on one leg for two playoff rounds).
- McDavid was the 2021-22 NHL regular-season scoring leader with 123 points, eight points more than runner-up Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers, who both finished with 115 points.
- McDavid’s combined regular season and playoffs point total of 156 points (plus-44) in 96 games is the highest combined total in the last 25 seasons.
- McDavid upped his game to a new level this spring, and despite the Oilers not being as well-rounded as the Avalanche, McDavid willed his team into the Western Conference Final.
- Consistency. McDavid has 697 career points. This past season, he became the sixth-fastest player in NHL history to reach 600 points, reaching the milestone in 421 games.
- Leadership. When McDavid was named Oilers’ captain in 2016, he became the youngest captain in NHL history, named at the seasoned age of 19 years and 266 days. It’s a role that the soft-spoken centreman has grown into just like one of his predecessors, Wayne Gretzky.
- McDavid carries a bigger responsibility than Matthews or Makar. Similar to Bobby Orr, who was never named captain of the Boston Bruins, neither Auston Matthews nor Cale Makar wears the ‘C’ for their respective teams. There’s a lot of added pressure that comes with the captaincy at the NHL level, and McDavid carries the responsibility as well as many of the other NHL all-time greats such as Mario Lemieux, Gretzky and even Maurice Richard.
Matthews and Makar Are Worthy Challengers
On June 21, when Matthews took home the 2021-22 Hart Trophy for Most Value Player and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player as voted on by the players, the debate on the world’s best hockey player intensified. Combine Matthew’s hardware with Makar’s trophy wins this spring – including the Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP and the Norris Trophy for best defenceman in the regular season – and you have many wondering if Makar isn’t the best player in the NHL right now.
Makar has caught the attention of the hockey world after his outstanding playoff performance. Even the Great One has praised Makar’s play and compared him to Orr. When Makar stopped McDavid in full flight in Game 2 during the Oilers/Avalanche Western Conference Final, some were left wondering if Makar hasn’t supplanted McDavid as the best player in the game. Whether you think Matthews is the best all-around player or Makar has grabbed the mantle as the best pure player, you only have to look at a few details to realize that McDavid still deserves the title.
The 2022-23 NHL Player Rankings are going to be interesting this fall. Where will each player rank? Will Leon Draisaitl receive some love and respect that he deserves? Where will Nathan MacKinnon finish?
This is always a fun debate. McDavid has his share of critics that say he isn’t the best because he hasn’t won a Cup. The argument against that is McDavid isn’t the general manager or the coach of his team, and although he may have a say or be asked his opinion on potential players coming to Edmonton, he isn’t responsible for putting the roster together.
You can’t deny McDavid’s talent. Until challengers such as Makar or Matthews do what they do for longer and more consistently, McDavid will still hold the unofficial title of the best player in the world for a few more years. As for predicting when someone will wrestle the title away from him, let’s save that for the end of next season or maybe for when Connor Bedard gets drafted.
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.