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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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The Lightning’s best free-agent lure could be coach Jon Cooper

Lightning coach Jon Cooper has a lot of fans among players around the league, according to this season's poll done by the NHL Players Association.

Cooper was the No. 2 pick when players were asked what coach they would most like to play for. The Blackhawks' Joel Quenneville got the most votes.

Also getting league-wide nods were Nikita Kucherov, voted No. 3 in the most underrated player category (the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom was No. 1), and Victor Hedman, fifth in the defenseman most difficult to play against (the Senators' Erik Karlsson was first).

More than 500 players were surveyed by the NHLPA on more than 20 hockey-related questions during the annual team meetings between the preseason and last month (maybe Kucherov got his most-underrated votes in the preseason meetings). The questions covered skills, coaches, officials, arenas, teams and on-ice matters.

The Penguins' Sidney Crosby got the most love from his peers. He was voted the most difficult to play against, best role model, best team player, the player you'd want to win one game, and the player who would be a great coach after he retires.

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