Connor McDavid takes a faceoff against Nathan MacKinnon
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Who should you draft 1st in your playoff pool? McDavid or MacKinnon?

Published April 20, 2024 at 7:38

The NHL Playoffs start tomorrow afternoon when the New York Islanders travel to face off against the Carolina Hurricanes, with fantasy sports all the rage, some fans are left with the difficult decision of deciding who they want to draft first overall.

If you're lucky enough to have the first overall pick, then this year you'll have a difficult decision.

The Hart Trophy race this season was a four horse race between Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. However, playoff hockey is different animal all together. Regular season success doesn't necessarily translate into playoff success and that's where things get tricky.

Let's take a look at the four top candidates:

Nikita Kucherov

This season Tampa Bay Lightning forward and Art Ross Trophy Winner Nikita Kucherov, led the league in scoring with 136 points, headlined by his 100 assists.

Games played: 81
Goals: 44
Assists: 100
Points: 144
Plus/minus: 8
Penalty minutes: 22

Unfortunately for Kucherov his Tampa Bay Lightning have drawn an incredibly tough matchup against divisional rivals the Florida Panthers. The Panthers won this seasons series 2-1, including a 9-2 blowout victory. Kucherov possesses all the talent in the world, but it's difficult to pick Tampa Bay to win their series making Kucherov a dangerous pick.

Auston Matthews

Auston Matthews had the best season of any Toronto Maple Leafs player in modern history. The former first overall pick capped off the season winning the Rocket Richard Trophy with 69 goals. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs those 69 goals weren't enough to avoid a playoff matchup on the road against the Boston Bruins.

Games played: 81
Goals: 69
Assists: 38
Points: 107
Plus/minus: 31
Penalty minutes: 20

While Matthews would be a great pick, given his team's history It's once again difficult to predict success beyond the first round. Even if the Maple Leafs managed to get past the Bruins and eventual second round matchup against the Florida Panthers is likely imminent. Last season the Panthers defeated the Leafs in the second round in 5 games, where they limited Matthews to no goals.

Nathan MacKinnon

If we had a vote, Nathan MacKinnon is easily this year's Hart Trophy winner. The Colorado Avalanche Center has all the skills and game breaking spirit to excel in the playoffs. To his credit McKinnon also has a Stanley Cup victory so he knows what it takes to be successful. After the best season of his NHL career, the Colorado Avalanche however, enter the playoffs in a bit of a slump.

Goals: 51
Assists: 89
Points: 140
Plus/minus: 35
Penalty minutes: 42

MacKinnon faces off against the Winnipeg Jets and all-star goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Betting against MacKinnon is something we'd rarely consider, but of all the goalies in the players Hellebuyck is probably the most likely to steal an entire season.

If the Avalanche do defeat the Jets, awaiting them in the second round will be the Dallas Stars or Vegas Golden Knights. Hardly a reward for a hard fought series win.

Connor McDavid

Last on this list, but certainly not least is Connor McDavid. McDavid was last seasons MVP and the Oilers feels they have unfinished business after a disappointing loss to the Golden Knights. If their goaltending can hold up the Oilers have as good of chance as anyone to hoist the Cup.

Here are Connor McDavid's stats for the 2023-2024 season ¹ ²:

- Games played: 76
- Goals: 32
- Assists: 100
- Points: 132
- Plus/minus: 35
- Penalty minutes: 30

The Oilers not only have McDavid, but a great amount of talent up front. With the deepest version of the Oilers and a favorable bracket, could make the Oilers the easiest choice.

So who do you take?

All things considered, while Nathan MacKinnon would be a great choice, we feel that the safest choice in this situation is clearly Connor McDavid.

Who would you select first overall?
April 20   |   187 answers
Who should you draft 1st in your playoff pool? McDavid or MacKinnon?

Who would you select first overall?

Nikita Kucherov1910.2 %
Auston Matthews2714.4 %
Nathan MacKinnon5127.3 %
Connor McDavid9048.1 %
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