With the season more than one-quarter complete, we've seen awards and superlatives handed out to those who have been the most impressive. But nobody knows what's going on in the game quite like those on the ice.
So as we head into the second quarter of the NHL season, we asked a sampling of over 20 NHL players to list the three most impressive players they've faced this season. A first-place vote was worth three points, second place two points and third place one point.
In some cases, the results went as expected; Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby lead the way. But the wide variety of players mentioned -- 35 players in all received votes -- shows the depth of talent right now in the NHL, with a couple of surprises higher (and lower) than you might think.
Our distinguished panel: Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes; Brendan Smith, Detroit Red Wings; Matt Cullen, Nashville Predators; Shea Weber, Predators; Seth Jones, Predators; Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes; Drayson Bowman, Hurricanes; Ryan Murphy, Hurricanes; Jordan Staal, Hurricanes; Jimmy Howard, Red Wings; Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators; Bobby Ryan, Senators; Kyle Quincey, Red Wings; Dave Moss, Coyotes; Keith Yandle, Coyotes, Mikkel Boedker, Coyotes; Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks; Niklas Hjalmarsson, Blackhawks; Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (partial ballot); Jason Chimera, Capitals; Troy Brouwer, Capitals; Andrew Shaw, Blackhawks; Michal Rozsival, Blackhawks.
Here are the results:
1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (18 ballot points). His injury didn't stop fellow players from mentioning him the most. He didn't even play a full quarter and he's still third in the NHL in goals, with 14 in 17 games before the injury. "He's at almost a goal a game, that's pretty decent," Eric Staal deadpanned.
His goal scoring was especially appreciated by one of the panelists charged with stopping them. "His shot, it's crazy," said Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard. "The fact that he can go down on his wing on the wrong foot, take a snapper and have it be an absolute laser is remarkable."
Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who had him first on his ballot, echoed the words of many players. "I hope he has a speedy recovery and gets back as soon as he can," he said. "He's unbelievable."