HENDERSON, NV - Fans of hockey can only dream of playing with the skill their favorite NHLers bring to the table, but what traits do the stars themselves covet? With many of the game's biggest names taking part in the NHL/NHLPA Player Media Tour just outside of Vegas, I had the chance to ask them that exact question.
Needless to say, two of the most popular answers were also the most obvious: Connor McDavid's speed and Auston Matthews' shot. But those weren't the only responses and it's interesting to see what direction the players went in. Here's a recap of their answers.
"Auston Matthews' shot. I'm sure I'm not the only one saying that, but it makes the game look easy for him."
"Connor McDavid's speed. That would be fun to be the fastest guy."
"Everyone says skate like Connor, right? But his ability to get on his edges and attack people, his escapability - his skating is pretty incredible to watch."
"McDavid's speed. Speed kills."
"I feel like if you took the agility of McDavid and MacKinnon, the hands of Patrick Kane and the shot of Auston Matthews, you'd have a pretty good all-around player."
"I'd like to have Matthews' shot, that would be pretty good."
"John Carlson, how he shoots from the blueline - his one-timer is amazing. The way he moves on the power play and how electric he is out there is fun to watch."
"Patrick Kane's backhand. He's so in control with both sides of his stick. The way he can find guys on his backhand, it's like he has two forehands. So many times he'll score in tight, short-side."
"I'm sure a lot of people said McDavid's speed, so I'll give you another one: Kaner's vision is second-to-none."
"Right now it would be either Makar's skating or McDavid's skating or Ovechkin's shot - him and Auston, one of those two for shot. I don't think I've ever scored on a slap shot and Ovie gets 40 every year, just posted up at his spot. Auston scores in all different ways with his shot."
"The agility and edgework of Makar. Those quick little moves would be great on breakaways."
"McDavid's speed, Auston's shot."
"McDavid's skating obviously jumps out...MacKinnon's explosiveness - he just bullies his way in and is always attacking the net and putting the 'D' back on their heels, opening up space for himself. Those guys are obviously two of the best in the game."
"I think the media would want me to say 'Auston's shot.' I think everyone wants me to say that. But for me, just being able to see the game and pass the puck like 'Drai' (teammate Leon Draisaitl), is such a unique skill that I don't think you see very often. The way he plays his game, he goes about his game very differently than you see other guys go. He slows the game down so well and he makes these plays that are just ridiculous. I think a lot of them go unnoticed, just because we've come to expect that from him. So I guess that'd be it."
And of course we can't leave the goalies out of the exercise...
"Mike Smith's puckhandling would be nice to have in my arsenal. It's definitely something I've worked on and you can tell how important it is in today's game to be that third defenseman behind the net."
"Vasilevskiy's athletic ability. I'll watch him and he gets into positions that kinda gross me out thinking about what they'd do to my body. He's a freak athlete and the best goalie in the world."
"Vasilevskiy's flexibility is next-world. He can get into the splits and for a big guy - a lot of goalies would get stuck in that position, but he can still move around."
"I want to play the puck like Ben Bishop. He was the third defenseman on the ice, for sure. I was fortunate enough to watch him play and had the best seat from the bench. Great goalie, great personality."