Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevskiy Image by: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The NHL officially unveiled the rosters for the All-Star Game in Tampa Bay. See who made it, who missed out and who could step in if injuries force a change.
Last week, the NHL announced the first four all-stars, revealing the captains of each respective division for the upcoming all-star festivities in Tampa Bay. And on Wednesday, after a week spent predicting who would be joining the Lightning’s own Steven Stamkos, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Oilers phenom Connor McDavid and Predators star blueliner P.K. Subban for the event, the NHL has announced the official rosters for the event.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning*
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
In our prediction, we guessed that this would be a team loaded with representatives from the Tampa Bay Lightning and, wouldn’t you know it, there’s four members of the hometown team heading to the event. Granted, that’s not much of a surprise given the way the four Lightning players — Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman and Vasilevskiy — have played through the first half of the campaign.
The Surprise: That Green is making his way to the game is somewhat shocking, especially with Dylan Larkin having such a quality campaign and the potential for the Red Wings pivot to potentially go head to head with Connor McDavid in the fastest skater competition. That would have been a sight to see. Marchand’s play made him a necessary addition, though, and with one fewer forward spot to hand out, Detroit’s representative had to shift to the blueline.
The Snub: It wasn’t so much the skaters that got a raw deal in the Atlantic, but the goaltenders who had a tough time making the cut. Based solely on season-long save percentage, Price ranks eighth in the division. And the netminder who probably should have been there in his place is Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask’s play in recent weeks has been nothing short of brilliant.
The Replacements: The tricky thing about the Atlantic is that any player falling injured, save a member of the Lightning, is that the replacement has to come from the respective squad. So, team by team, the breakdown could go: Boston, David Pastrnak; Buffalo, Evander Kane; Florida, Jonathan Huberdeau; Toronto, William Nylander; Ottawa, Dion Phaneuf. If Green is out or Price falls injured, though, it could result in the participation of defenders such as Morgan Rielly, Torey Krug or Keith Yandle getting the call. Meanwhile, Rask should be next man up if the team needs a goaltender. Having each team represented might be a bridge the league has to cross when — or if — they come to it.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals*
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
There’s no reason to envy whoever had to select the roster from the Metropolitan. Consider the league’s scoring race: 11 players who are in the top 20 in league scoring play for teams inside the Metro and the division has some of the best defenders and goaltenders in the league. It was the toughest division in the league for a reason last season.
The Surprise: Is it really surprising that Crosby was selected for the event over Phil Kessel, who has four more points than his Penguins teammate? Maybe not, but it really felt as though Kessel might actually get the nod. He’s a fan favorite of almost cult status and he’s been an all-star before. It’s not exactly a bad pick. But the All-Star Game is a platform for the game to show the best of the best, and we suppose the idea was to get the face of the sport to Tampa Bay.
The Snub: Leaving Kessel behind is one thing. That’s not too hard to understand. But the absence of John Carlson from the all-star team is bizarre. We get it; the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions and, as such, are one of the most recognizable teams. But you know who casual fans won’t recognize from last year’s run? Kris Letang, who missed the entire post-season due to injury. And that aside, Carlson has been the better of the two defenders all season, is leading all defenders within the division with 34 points and averaging more ice time than any other Metro rearguard.
The Replacements: It’s much easier to select replacements in the Metro. By team: Carolina, Jaccob Slavin; Columbus, Zach Werenski; New Jersey, Nico Hischier; Islanders, Anders Lee; Philadelphia, Jakub Voracek; Pittsburgh, Phil Kessel; Washington, Nicklas Backstrom. The only issue is if Lundqvist goes down, the Rangers may not be able to send a replacement. But the Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky is a deserving candidate.
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers*
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights
Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
At the start of the campaign, few would have been surprised if the league had a tough time deciding who from the Golden Knights roster was worthy of the all-star selection, but Vegas’ brilliant play has resulted in multiple representatives on the squad. The only other team with that honor is the Los Angeles Kings, who have three players heading to the game, one at every position.
The Surprise: If, in some alternate universe, these rosters were revealed ahead of the season, there aren’t truly any names that would cause some eyebrow raising more than Boeser. Did Canucks fans have high hopes for the young gun? Absolutely. But an all-star calibre campaign right out of the gate? That’s a welcome surprise. Make no mistake, either: Boeser has earned the opportunity. He’s tied for the division lead with 22 goals and has the sixth-best points per game of all players in the Pacific.
The Snub: Speaking of points per game, how does Neal represent the Golden Knights ahead of Jonathan Marchessault? Marchessault is scoring more than a quarter point per game more than Neal and sits fourth in the entire division in scoring. In fact, Marchessault is the only player in the top five in scoring in the division who won’t be at the game. And if the league is looking for a nice story for fans to catch on to, how about the guy who signed a two-year deal at next to league minimum, is on pace to become a two-time 30-goal scorer and earned himself a long-term, big-money extension with the league’s newest franchise?
The Replacements: Again, it’s difficult to say who goes, and the replacements could be predicated upon giving each team representation. That’s the guidelines we’re operating under, and here are your best bets, by team: Edmonton, Leon Draisaitl; Calgary, Sean Monahan; Los Angeles, Dustin Brown or Jake Muzzin; Vancouver, Henrik Sedin; Vegas, Marchessault or William Karlsson; Anaheim, Ryan Getzlaf; Arizona, Alex Goligoski. Unlike other divisions, the difficulty in the Pacific is having a Sharks representative without Burns. Justin Braun is the next-highest scoring defender. If a goaltender falls injured, too, maybe the Sharks could send Martin Jones.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators*
John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
The Central is well represented here, with four of the division’s seven teams — the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets — sending two players to the event. And while it’s the most competitive division in the league, it was probably the easiest division for the league to decide on.
The Surprise: That Hellebuyck is on the roster is another instance of a player’s selection not being surprising given his performance this season, but surprising looking back on what happened one season ago. Hellebuyck had a dreadful season for the Jets in 2016-17, one that was poor enough that Winnipeg committed big money to Steve Mason in the off-season on a two-year deal just to give themselves some security in goal. Hellebuyck has responded by being one of the best goaltenders in the division, conference and league.
The Snub: Surely there’s someone who will have a gripe with one of the selections, but, top to bottom, it’s difficult to pinpoint one obvious misstep here. All three of the top scoring defenders? Check. Two top goaltenders? Check. And each forward selected is leading their respective club in points as of Wednesday’s announcement. Some people may have wanted to see Vladimir Tarasenko over Schenn, as both are tied in points, but it’s great the league is giving some shine to a player who has had a career year.
The Replacements: The least difficult division to find replacements. By team: Chicago, Jonathan Toews; Colorado, Mikko Rantanen; Dallas, Tyler Seguin; Nashville, Roman Josi; Minnesota, Mikael Granlund; St. Louis, Tarasenko; Winnipeg, Patrik Laine.
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