Thoughts on the NHL All-Star Rosters

NHL All-Star Game
The 2016-17 NHL All-Star game is approaching and here are some thoughts on the game and the rosters announced for each team.

The 2016-17 NHL All-Star game will take place on Sunday, January 29th in Los Angeles, with the skills-competition to be held the day before.  The game maintains the same format the league piloted last year in Nashville.  The two divisions in the Eastern and Western conferences will face off in a 3-on-3 semi-finals, with the winner of each game playing in the final and all three games will consist of two 10 minute halves.  This format found success last year.  On top of the John Scott story, the new format added some life to the typically dull All-Star format.  The NHL seems to be embracing the pageantry of the whole event.  Instead of forcing a 5-on-5 standard game format with next to no contact and no real consequences, the NHL has embraced the most overtly manufactured aspect of the game, and decided to give fans continual 3-on-3 action.  Selection to the All-Star team may not be the honor it once was, but it still remains a nod to the best players in the game. Recently the NHL announced the rosters for this year’s All-Star game(s).  The full release can be found here.  The complete rosters for each division are listed below along with some observations on the selections. A “C” next to a player’s name denotes division captain as voted by fans.

Starting with the Pacific Division, here are the players named to the team.  Connor McDavid is the worthy fan vote for captaincy of this team.  Notable selections include Bo Horvat from Vancouver and Mike Smith from Arizona.  Horvat does lead the Canucks with 29 points, and the Sedins have seen their fair share of recognition in their careers.  Mike Smith has posted impressive individual stats despite the struggles of his team.  He has a 2.83 GAA and a .918 S%.  It should be a blast to watch McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau play in the 3-on-3 format.

Pacific Division:

Forwards
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (C)
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks
Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

Defensemen
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks

Goaltenders
Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
Mike Smith, Arizona Coyotes
The Central Division sends the following players.  Hopefully, division captain P.K. Subban will be healthy enough to take part in the activities.  The division leading Blackhawks see four players get selected.  The only real stretch among them would be Jonathan Toews, who is posting a very pedestrian 18 points in 33 games played this season.  Due to his selection, other players like Dallas’ Jamie Benn (34-10-24) find themselves on the outside looking in.  Patrik Laine also may or may not be available for this game pending his recovery from his recent concussion.  If he is not ready, assume Mark Scheifele will go in his place.  Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has earned the selection after his superb play this season.

Central Division

Forwards
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Defensemen
P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators (C)
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

Goaltenders
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild

 

For the Metro Division, it is safe to assume that Sidney Crosby will play this year.  He has been selected to five All-Star games in the past, appearing in just one in 2007.  I find Seth Jones to be an interesting selection out of Columbus as rookie teammate Zach Werenski has more points on the season.  Even so, the smooth-skating Jones should be fun to watch in 3-on-3.  Wayne Simmonds edges out teammates Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux as representative for Philadelphia.  Either of the other two players likely would have provided more wow-factor, especially given the format, but Simmonds has been steady for the Flyers this season.

Metropolitan Division
Forwards
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (C)
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers
John Tavares, New York Islanders

Defensemen
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

Goaltenders
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

Finally, from the Atlantic Division comes perhaps the strongest looking team.  Vincent Trochek will appear for the Panthers given Jaromir Jagr has expressed his disinterest in another All-Star game, and team points-leader Alexsander Barkov is out with injury.  Nikita Kucherov is a shoo-in from Tampa Bay, and I am glad to see Victor Hedman get the nod as well.  Frans Nielsen is a bit of a head scratcher out of Detroit.  The team has struggled to find any offense this year, though, and aging Henrik Zetterberg is likely happy to have the week off.  Rookie phenom Auston Matthews will indeed attend the event, and we can only hope for an Atlantic vs. Pacific final so we can watch him square off against Connor McDavid.

Atlantic Division

Forwards
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Frans Nielsen, Detroit Red Wings
Kyle Okposo, Buffalo Sabres
Vincent Trocheck, Florida Panthers

Defensemen
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens

Goaltenders
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (C)
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

With the rosters set, and no Cinderella story this year, we can look forward to a showcase of abundant young talent and speed that should make these games plenty watchable.  Without an underdog to market, the NHL will likely focus on selling its rookies as the focal point.  The skills competition should be a treat as well, giving fans the opportunity to brag about the abilities of their players. While there are no doubt players absent from this list that could be there, the above rosters look relatively complete and indicative of the league’s best players. If nothing else, the All-Star game should be what it is meant to be: fun.

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