Sidney Crosby dominates NHLPA player poll

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby remains the best player in the NHL according to his peers, despite a serious challenge from Edmonton Oilers prodigy Connor McDavid.

The National Hockey League Players Association poll for 2017-18 was released Wednesday, with Crosby winning six categories, including most difficult player to play against, best team player and the player you'd want on your team if you needed to win one game.

McDavid won two categories, as the NHL's fastest skater and the player with whom you'd most want to start a franchise. He finished second to Crosby in three categories (most difficult player to play against, player you'd want on your team if you needed to win one game and most difficult forward to play against).

NHL players were surveyed on more than 20 hockey-related questions during their annual NHLPA team meetings, between the preseason and early January 2018. More than 500 players took part in the poll.

Among the topics was whether the players were happy with the NHL's controversial standings format, which has been criticized for everything from forced parity to the inequity of its playoff seeding. But 77.7 percent of the players polled said they like the way points are currently awarded for a win or a loss in the regular season.

The NHLPA also polled players on all-time bests, for the organization's 50th anniversary. Wayne Gretzky was named as top forward (72.7 percent of the vote), Bobby Orr as best defenseman (61.0 percent), and Patrick Roy as best goalie (39.3 percent).

Here are the winners of the major categories in the NHLPA poll, and the percentage of votes they received:

  • Fastest skater: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (81 percent)

  • Most difficult goalie to score on: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (41 percent)

  • Most difficult to play against: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (29.9 percent)

  • Most difficult to play against, forward: Crosby (30.4 percent)

  • Most difficult to play against, defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators (22.1 percent)

  • Toughest player: Ryan Reaves, Vegas Golden Knights (44.7 percent)

  • Most underrated: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (8.6 percent)

  • Best role model: Crosby (33 percent)

  • Player to start franchise: McDavid (48.6 percent)

  • Best team player: Crosby (16.9 percent)

  • Best player if you need to win one game: Crosby (43.7 percent)

  • Coach you'd like to play for: Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks (16.5 percent)

  • Assistant coach who would make the best head coach: D.J. Smith, Toronto Maple Leafs (8.3 percent)

  • Player who would make the best coach: Crosby (5.7 percent)

  • Best referee: Wes McCauley (47.8 percent) Favorite rink: Bell Centre, Montreal (24.8 percent)

  • Best ice: Bell Centre, Montreal (28 percent)

  • Worst ice: BB&T Center, Florida (16.8 percent)

  • Best fans: Chicago Blackhawks (30.4 percent)