30 players we would love to see at the 2017 All-Star Game
Shane Doan (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
30 players we would love to see at the 2017 All-Star Game
John Scott’s All-Star Game experience is over and while there’s no recreating it, there is at least one player from each team we’d love to see get a shot at next season’s all-star festivities, whether they’ve earned their way in or not.
Whether or not the NHL wanted John Scott at the All-Star Game or not, his appearance was a resounding success. He received raucous ovations each time he was introduced, smiled ear-to-ear throughout the game and was voted the game’s MVP even though he didn’t appear on the ballot. For all the success of the 3-on-3 tournament format, Scott was the biggest story.
But now the NHL faces a tough decision. With Scott’s success and the attention paid to his appearance, does the NHL try to capitalize on this sort of thing again next season? There’s a good argument to be made Scott’s appearance was the perfect lightning-in-a-bottle example and it would be impossible to recreate. And if the NHL wants to make a Scott-esque player a feature of the All-Star Game, how do they do it?
The league will definitely consider their options, but if they choose to send some fan favorites next season, here are 30 players — one from each team — we’d love to see participate in the all-star festivities:
Anaheim Ducks: Andrew Cogliano — One of the speediest players in the game and owner of one of the most impressive ironman streaks in the league. Cogliano hasn’t missed a single outing in his 669-game career. He’s never been an all-star, but he’d be a great addition to the game.
Arizona Coyotes: Shane Doan — He would have to stick around one more season, but who wouldn’t love to see Doan make one more appearance at the game? The 19-year veteran has 17 goals and 27 points in 40 games this season, so he can still be an effective player. He might not even need to win a fan vote to get in next season.
Boston Bruins: Zdeno Chara — Like Doan, ’Big Z’ doesn’t have many years left in him. After Shea Weber’s performance in the Hardest Shot competition at the 2016 all-star weekend, we’re going to need a head-to-head, shot-for-shot battle between the two before Chara hangs up his skates.
Buffalo Sabres: Matt Moulson — The pairing of Moulson and John Tavares was one of the best scoring duos in the entire league, but were broken up by Moulson’s eventual trade away from the Islanders. The new divisional format wouldn’t bring them back together, but the tournament format would pit the former running-mates against one another.
Calgary Flames: Brandon Bollig — Maybe the most Scott-like candidate on the list, Bollig isn’t what one would call the prototypical all-star. The bruising tough guy has nine goals and 21 points in 212 NHL games, but he’s beloved by teammates for many of the same reasons Scott is. Few would have as much fun with it as Bollig.
Carolina Hurricanes: Kris Versteeg — Only if he raps. Kidding, of course, but Versteeg has one of the most outgoing personalities in the league and he’s shown it on plenty of occasions. He’s got plenty of skill and has scored some highlight-reel goals before. He wouldn’t be a let down. Put him in the Breakaway Challenge and enjoy.
Chicago Blackhawks: Niklas Hjalmarsson — Barring some incredible offensive outburst, there’s not much change Hjalmarsson ever gets selected to the game. A fan vote may be the only way the defensive stalwart cracks the roster. Shot blocks aren’t often seen in the All-Star Game, but Hjalmarsson would probably chase the record.
Colorado Avalanche: Jarome Iginla — Iginla will be 39 next season, but he’s still scoring like a player half his age. He’s not the 50-goal sniper he once was, but any All-Star Game with Iginla in it is worth watching. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the best goal scorers of his generation.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Jared Boll — By the end of the 2015-16 season, Boll is likely to be fourth all-time in games player for the Blue Jackets. He’s beloved by fans for his rough and tumble style of play. He’s usually using his hands for fighting, but he’d be a fun addition to the game.
Dallas Stars: Antoine Roussel — Loved by Stars players and fans, loathed by opponents. One of the feistiest players in the league with an underrated scoring touch. Roussel could be a sneaky contender to win the MVP, much like Scott did this past game.
Detroit Red Wings: Teemu Pulkkinen — He has 62 career games under his belt and only 20 points. But Pulkkinen is known to have one of the heaviest shots not just on the Red Wings, but in the entire league. He’s only 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, but he can lay into the puck. Dark horse candidate to win the hardest shot.
Edmonton Oilers: Andrew Ference — Few players do as much for the community off ice as Ference and he’s a wonderful face for the league. He’s not a Norris Trophy caliber defenseman and he’s never even received a single vote for the award. But he’s a great ambassador for the game, and he deserves the honor at least once in his career.
Florida Panthers: Jussi Jokinen — Jokinen has gone to the all-star weekend before as part of the YoungStars game, but that was back in 2006-07. Where he’d really excel is the skills competition and he’s one of the best players at the shootout since its inception. Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo were the obvious Panthers to take part, but both made it this year.
Los Angeles Kings: Jake Muzzin — Muzzin’s got a good shot at making an All-Star Game roster at some point in his future, but he’s in tough. On a team that already boasts Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar, Muzzin is sometimes an afterthought. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, however, and deserves his shot.
Minnesota Wild: Jared Spurgeon — Much like Pulkkinen, the best thing about Spurgeon participating in the game would be seeing someone his size trying to take the hardest shot crown. His slapshot is underrated, and Spurgeon could open some eyes at the game.
Montreal Canadiens: Brendan Gallagher — He could have gone to the game this season had he stayed healthy, but an injury derailed the best offensive campaign of his career. Gallagher has a pesky side and he might be the first player to score an All-Star Game goal by jamming a puck in from the side of the net.
Nashville Predators: Paul Gaustad — Gaustad’s deal is up at season’s end so he may not be a Predator much longer, but for now there’s no one we’d like to see make it more. Never a top goal scorer, Gaustad makes his living with tight checking and his skill in the faceoff circle. He’s the type of blue collar player fans love.
New Jersey Devils: Jordin Tootoo — For all that he’s had to go through throughout his career, Tootoo’s hard not to respect. Can he be a pest on-ice? Absolutely. Is that his job? No doubt, and few do it better. It should be noted, though, that he was twice a 30-goal, 70-point player during his WHL days. He can play.
New York Islanders: Cal Clutterbuck — No brainer. He’s consistently good for 10-plus goals and few players in the league throw their body around like Clutterbuck. Islanders fans love him just as Wild fans loved him before.
New York Rangers: Mats Zuccarello — The Norwegian winger is on pace for the first 30-goal season of his career, but he’s been a 20-goal scorer many times before. Rangers fans love him for his offensive creativity. He’s small, but he’s made himself an effective NHLer thanks to his ability to think the game.
Ottawa Senators: Andrew Hammond — The first thought that came to mind was Chris Neil, but Hammond was the best story in the NHL last season. Who wouldn’t want to see ‘The Hamburglar’ compete in the skills competition? There’s no doubt someone would shoot a burger at him.
Philadelphia Flyers: Steve Mason — After winning the Calder Trophy in 2008-09, Mason’s game dropped off in a big way in Columbus. It’s not often a player can get back on track like Mason has. He’s going to be in Philadelphia for a while, it would seem.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Olli Maatta — His young career has been marred by injuries. Maatta is a good, young defenseman who has had to overcome a lot. He continues to show improvement and could realistically be a top-pairing blueliner for the Penguins as soon as next season.
San Jose Sharks: Tomas Hertl — When you start your career off with a four-goal game that includes a between-the-legs beauty, people aren’t quick to forget. Hertl’s play has been up and down since then, but fans want to see the type of skill Hertl displayed when he had his four-goal outing.
St. Louis Blues: Jori Lehtera — One of the most underrated players in the league and an incredibly creative playmaker. He’s going to be a second- and third-line center in St. Louis for a long time, and Blues fans are going to continue to fall in love with him.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn — There’s not much that’s flashy about Killorn’s game, but he’s looking like he’ll continue to be good for between 35-40 points each season while having the type of two-way game that makes him an underrated part of the Lightning’s success. His performance in the 2014-15 post-season endeared him to Lightning fans.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Morgan Rielly — Only 21, Rielly has an entire career ahead of him to make All-Star Games, but the speedy blueliner is already capable of jaw-dropping plays. If he was a part of all-star weekend, it wouldn’t be only Maple Leafs fans who consider him one of the brightest young defensemen in the game.
Vancouver Canucks: Chris Tanev — The likelihood of Tanev making it to the All-Star Game based on his offensive numbers is slim, but Tanev is the Canucks’ best pure defender. He has never had more than 20 points in a season, but, if he had to be less defensively responsible at the All-Star Game, he could have some fun with it.
Washington Capitals: John Carlson — Outside of Washington, Carlson may be one of the best-kept secrets in the league. He deserves to be talked about more, though, and taking part in the all-star festivities might turn the spotlight on the defenseman just as he hits his prime.
Winnipeg Jets: Chris Thorburn — Blake Wheeler didn’t make it this season, but he will be representing the Jets soon enough. Thorburn, though, isn’t the type of player who’s on the short list of All-Star Game nominees. Fans in Winnipeg adore him and he’s been dubbed ‘Scoreburn’. He’d be a great personality to showcase.