The Second-Best Players in Canada Behind Connor McDavid

While most hockey fans would recognize Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid as the best player on the planet, there is solid competition for the title of second-best. But instead of looking at the entire league, let’s focus on the leading candidates from Canadian teams before you weigh in with your comments.  

The Best NHL Players in Canada Behind McDavid

Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers  

McDavid’s teammate, Leon Draisaitl, has been riding shotgun for a few seasons now. However, in 49 games without McDavid over his career, the big German has registered 49 points, proving he can produce on his own.

This season, he is once again second behind McDavid in goals, assists and points on the Oilers, and then there’s everyone else. And some would say that Draisaitl makes McDavid a better player, a lofty compliment for anyone’s resume.   

He’s the second-best player on his team but is he second-best in the Great White North?  

Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs  

While reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Auston Matthews gets most of the attention in the most rabid hockey market in the league, Mitch Marner has been leading the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.   

When Marner played with John Tavares a few seasons back, the former Islanders captain set a career-high in goals. When he played with Matthews last season, he set a franchise record with 60 goals. Coincidence? I don’t think so.    

On the weekend, Marner set a new franchise record with a 19-game point streak, surpassing Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler and Ed Olczyk

If the Maple Leafs are to enjoy a long run in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, Marner will be front and centre as he improves the players around him. Does he get the nod as one of the best NHL players behind McDavid?  

Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks  

Perhaps the most surprising name on this list is Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat, who is enjoying an offensively excellent season. He’s always played a solid 200-foot game, but this season, he is racking up the points on a team that has struggled thus far.   

And the timing couldn’t be better as the London Knights product is in a contract year. While the Canucks would like to sign Horvat to a new deal, the centre holds all the cards right now and could be dealt at the trade deadline if the two sides can’t come to terms. Since McDavid is unavailable, some team could bring in one of the NHL’s best players right now for a long playoff run.   

Connor Hellebuyck – Winnipeg Jets   

The first goaltender on the list has to be Winnipeg Jets back stopper Connor Hellebuyck. The Michigan native has played a significant role in one of the biggest surprises in the league this year.

After winning the Vezina Trophy in 2019-2020, Hellebuyck established himself as one of the game’s elite goaltenders. But he’s taken it to a whole new level this season.   

The Jets are among the league leaders in goals-against-average (GAA), surrendering about 2.5 goals per game, mainly due to his heroics. Individually, Hellebuyck is at or near the top of the league in save percentage, GAA and shutouts.   

It’s hard to compare apples to oranges and goaltenders to skaters, but Hellebuyck could have the most significant impact in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  

Dark Horse: Matt Murray – Toronto Maple Leafs  

It may be a small sample size, but many Toronto Maple Leafs fans are breathing a sigh of relief with the play of goaltender Matt Murray this season. After the team cleaned house in the crease after last season, general manager Kyle Dubas took a chance on the injury-prone Murray to regain his form and lead the team to a championship.  

So far, so good. After a freak injury in the first regular season game, the two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins has been outstanding in his limited action.   

Your Call  

So there’s a rundown of the top candidates for the best player on a Canadian team not named Connor McDavid this season.   

Now it’s your turn. Let us know who you think is the #2 player in Canada. 

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