Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid are both incredibly talented players. And, perhaps the fun of watching them both is that they have different playing styles. As players, their abilities are evaluated differently.
In my mind, and I doubt there would be much argument, McDavid is the better player. In fact, the Edmonton Oilers’ star is the best player currently in the NHL. As well, perhaps he’s one of the best hockey players to have ever played the game.
However, Matthews Beats McDavid in One Area
While this comment does not unseat McDavid as the NHL’s best player, Matthews is a better 200-foot player. He’s a better defensive player. He’s also been incorporating that aspect into his game as the seasons have gone by.
While both players can score, Matthews is a better two-way player. He’s known for his ability to not only score goals but also to be responsible defensively. He often takes on the role of being the first forward in the defensive zone, which means he assumes added defensive responsibilities.
Matthews is also effective at stealing pucks, blocking shots, and making disruptive defensive plays. And, he does these solid defensive moves regularly. While he might not be in the conversation for the Selke Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL’s best defensive forward, perhaps he should be. He’s that solid a two-way player.
Noone Can Keep Up with McDavid in the Offensive Zone
On the other hand, McDavid is primarily known for his incredible speed, playmaking, and goal-scoring abilities. While McDavid is not typically associated with being a top-tier defensive forward, he’s certainly not a liability in the defensive zone. He’s so fast on his skates that he can use that speed to create turnovers and generate opportunities on the counterattack.
Like Matthews, McDavid plays a responsible defensive game. He’s no slouch; but, he’s not Matthews.
Matthews and McDavid Are Tough to Compare
When it comes to comparing their defensive abilities, it’s difficult to definitively say that one is significantly better than the other. Because they have different roles on their two teams, their defensive contributions are (and should be) valued in different ways.
Ultimately, they are both fantastic players. Whether one is considered a better defensive player than the other might come down to personal opinions. I have mine; and, I choose Matthews.
That said, as I noted before, I believe McDavid is the better overall player. Both players are exceptional in their own right, and their value to their teams extends beyond just their offensive contributions.
Wouldn’t a Stanley Cup between the Maple Leafs and the Oilers be fun?