While Connor McDavid was unsurprisingly the No. 1 choice for best in the game in The Athletic's NHL player poll released Monday, the race for second provided more intrigue.

Of 392 current players surveyed, 63 per cent of respondents voted for McDavid. With 17 per cent of the vote, second place went to Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon, who was followed closely by Sidney Crosby, last year's No. 1, at 15 per cent.

McDavid has been No. 1 in TSN's Top 50 player rankings in each of the past three seasons, with Crosby placing second each year. MacKinnon was ranked fourth in TSN's rankings ahead of this season, behind Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov.

The Edmonton Oilers captain currently leads the NHL with 76 points this season, one more than teammate Leon Draisaitl, who received less than one per cent in The Athletic's player poll. MacKinnon sits tied for third with 70 points this season. 

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak also has 70 points, including a league-leading 37 goals. He received one per cent of the player poll vote, as did Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel.

Crosby, 32, has been limited to just 21 games this season due to injury, but remains above a point-per-game pace with eight goals and 25 points. He had 35 goals and 100 points in 79 games last year.

Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Draisaitl, Patrice Bergeron, Auston Matthews, Jonathan Huberdeau and Patrick Kane all received votes, but finished below one per cent.