According to a poll of 496 NHL players, Marie-Philip Poulin is the greatest women’s hockey player in the world. The NHLPA published the results of its annual player poll on Tuesday, and Poulin’s name led the rankings for the question regarding the “best current female hockey player category.”
Poulin received 39.92% of overall votes. Hilary Knight followed closely behind at second with 36.29% of votes, and Kendall Coyne Schofield came in third with 15.52%. Emily Pfalzer Matheson also made the rankings with 1.41%, and the remaining 6.85% votes went to other, unnamed players.
Poulin is one of the most decorated active players in the world. In addition to two Olympic gold medals and one silver, she’s made it to the IIHF World Championship finals seven times and has two Clarkson Cups with the defunct CWHL. She has captained Team Canada for five years. Needless to say, she’s a very worthy recipient of this honor, and it’s refreshing to see NHL players acknowledge that.
She also may have attracted the attention of these players at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis, since she led Team Canada to victory at the inaugural Elite Women’s 3-on-3 competition.
Last year’s first and second place spots were swapped, with Hilary Knight in first and Poulin in second, followed again by Coyne Schofield and Matheson, with the addition of Amanda Kessel. Although Knight scored Team USA’s single goal in the All-Star showcase, she still slipped to second place in this year’s poll.
It’s also important to note that only 203 players answered this question in the 2019 poll, meaning that the number of players who answered this year’s question more than doubled.
What can we learn from these results? First, that more NHL players recognized elite women players than last year. Secondly, we can see that NHL recognition is largely skewed in favor of national team players— again, not a huge shock, since these players participated in the All-Star Game and also gain more media coverage during the Olympics and IIHF world championships.
With more eyes on women’s hockey than ever, it will be exciting to see how the USA-Canada rivalry continues to shape these rankings in the future.