Revealed: The most influential NHL players on social media
This campaign explores ice hockey players’ influence and popularity beyond their National Hockey League (NHL) careers. Our goal was to identify the most influential players on Social Media in the NHL and to celebrate their diverse talents, and the potent synergy between sport and social media.
There is no doubt that the NHL commands a great deal of influence and following among fans globally. As the 2023-24 NHL season gets underway, the odds for the Boston Bruins, initially ranked among the top 5 favorites, have lengthened due to the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Meanwhile, Colorado Avalanche have emerged as +800 betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup in 2024. Beyond these developments, a captivating question has grabbed our attention: Do the best NHL teams also have the most popular players on social media?
Our team, at SportingPedia, ranked each NHL team’s most influential players on social media based on the combined number of followers on Instagram, Facebook, X, and TikTok, and these are the top 10 players with the largest following on all platforms:
To identify the most influential NHL players on Social Media, we analyzed the social media handles/accounts of all the players in the 32 NHL franchises. Using the NHL website, we identified the current players for each franchise in the season, and checked their social media accounts starting with Instagram.
We kept a record of the follower count for each players’ social media account, from which we were able to identify the player with the most following for each team on social media.
Canada has the Most Influential Players in the NHL
Out of the 32 players we reviewed, while the Russian Alexander Ovechkin took the top influencer spot with over 4 million followers across all social media platforms, it was Canada that had the most players at the top across all 32 teams. Canada had 11 players on the top spot, with the United States coming a close second with 8 players at the top of their respective teams. Russia had 5 players, and the duo of Sweden and the Czech Republic had an even 2 each.
Players in Center Position are the Most Likely Fan Favorites
The data showed a clear fan preference for players playing in the Center Position. This is not surprising as most hockey star players play center.
Over 40 percent (13 players) of featured players on the top influencer spot play in the center position. Of the top 5 most influential NHL players on social media, 3 played Center while the others were split between the Left Wing and Right Wing. The Left and Right Wing positions each had 21.6 percent overall representation, making the Center, Right Wing, and Left Wing positions the most likely influencer positions in the NHL, in that order.
Player Indifference to Social Media
We noticed a widespread indifference to social media from a significant number of players in the NHL. In some instances, player accounts were nonexistent, some were locked, and others have had no engagement for years. Some players who made the cut as the top in their teams fall under this category.
We discovered that very few players had any semblance of organization and intentionality to their socials. In no particular order, Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens, David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks, and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, either had accounts on at least 3 of the 4 platforms we reviewed and/or had significant interactions and postings on their socials.
The Top 5 Most Influential NHL Players on Social Media
As the heartbeat of the game, the following players have harnessed the power of the virtual world, captivating and engaging their followers with every post and tweet. We unveil the top 5 influential NHL players on social media. Discover the faces behind the numbers, and the impact they’ve made beyond the ice:
Alexander Ovechkin, nicknamed “Ovi,” is a Russian ice hockey legend and captain of the Washington Capitals in the NHL. Known for his remarkable goal-scoring prowess, Ovechkin has consistently been one of the league’s top players. He’s a seven-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner and one of the greatest goal-scorers in NHL history.
Off the ice, Ovi’s charismatic personality and active social media presence have made him a fan favorite. Ovechkin’s impact on and off the ice cements his status as a hockey icon; he tops the list of the most influential NHL Players on Social Media, with a combined following of 4,211,535 followers across Instagram and X (Twitter).
In second place is Evgeni Malkin. Evgeni Malkin is a star center for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL. Renowned for his exceptional playmaking abilities and scoring prowess, Malkin has played a pivotal role in the Penguins’ success, earning multiple awards, including the Hart Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy. His dynamic play style has made him a beloved figure among fans. Off the ice, Malkin’s engaging presence on social media showcases his personality and love of the game, further solidifying his status as an NHL icon.
Connor McDavid, often called the “Next One,” is a Canadian hockey sensation and captain of the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL. Widely regarded as one of the league’s most talented players, McDavid’s exceptional speed and skill have earned him numerous accolades, including the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy multiple times. His on-ice artistry and dynamic leadership inspire awe among fans. Off the rink, McDavid’s engaging social media presence reflects his passion for the game, making him a beloved figure both in Edmonton and across the NHL.
Auston Matthews, a star center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, is a dynamic American talent in the NHL. Known for his prolific goal-scoring ability, Matthews has consistently been among the league’s top players and has even won the Rocket Richard Trophy. His unique combination of skill and speed has made him a driving force for the Maple Leafs and a fan favorite. Matthews’ charismatic personality and social media presence have concreted his status as one of the brightest young stars in the NHL.
David Pastrnak, the Czech sensation, is a dynamic forward for the Boston Bruins in the NHL. Renowned for his extraordinary scoring ability and innate ‘hockey sense’, which earned him the nickname “pasta wizard”, Pastrnak has consistently been among the league’s top players. A winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy, his goal-scoring prowess is unmatched. Off the ice, Pastrnak’s playful charisma and quirky social media presence showcase his love for the game and his family.