As always, when the NHL All-Star rosters are unveiled, there is much talk over who got snubbed from a given year’s edition. This includes, puzzingly, the “All-Star Game is stupid and should be cancelled” crowd. There are many reasons for snubs. Some players just play in markets nobody cares about outside those markets. Every team needs to have at least one representative, so as to generate interest in the event from all 31 markets, but the greater number of teams makes it all the more difficult to balance representing each team and properly representing particular teams. You can’t name four representatives for a single team and still expect there to be room for a star from each team the way you could when the NHL only had 26 teams. And of course there’s always a ballot-stuffing campaign of some sort that gains massive support while causing stuffier folk to tear their hair out over whether they deserve it in favour of a more conventional All-Star.
The NHL had a golden opportunity when it revised the All-Star format for 2016 to expand the All-Star rosters. For a game whose main appeal is its Super Smash Bros.-style crossover potential and which is taken less and less seriously as a real hockey game with each passing year, why not double down on that aspect and name more All-Stars simply because there’s more teams? Because it hasn’t occurred to the NHL to do that, I’m once again taking it upon myself to name an additional crop of All-Stars for this season.
Whereas the Expanded Ballot I write in December is a hypothetical expansion of the choices fans would be given to vote for, this is an expansion of the All-Star roster itself, so the selection criteria will be a bit stricter.
For this exercise I will be naming 11 players for each division, organized as follows:
- The skater complement would be the standard setup of 12 forwards and six defencemen, allowing for there to now be six three-man units, each consisting of two forwards and one defenceman. This season, several divisions only had two defencmen in favour of having seven forwards. In these cases, I will be naming five forwards and four defencemen to meet this requirement, otherwise it will be six forwards and three defencemen.
- As I mentioned back in my leadup to the 2016 All-Star Game, I’d extend each mini-game from 20 minutes to 30 minutes, both in order give each All-Star more time to shine and to make room to have three goaltenders, one handling a third each of the game. In that spirit, I will also name a third goaltender.
- In writing my listing of each franchise’s historical All-Star representatives, I noticed that for All-Star Games early in Gary Bettman’s tenure as commissioner, he would make a “Commissioner’s Selection” and add a veteran player nearing the end of his career as a lifetime achievement nod. This scenario will bring that back, but on top of the existing additions..
- In the spirit of the existing All-Star rosters, I will include at least one more player for each team.
- This may be hypothetical, but it’s still going to reflect reality. That means no players buried in the minors, no players who have already been replaced, and nobody who is expected to miss the All-Star break anyway due to injury.
- I will be including the existing All-Stars in under each division. To separate existing All-Stars from my picks while still showing the full makeup of each team, I will be including a mini write-up justifying why they on here. The NHL may not have to explain itself when it names its All-Stars, but that doesn’t mean I won’t.
G-31-Frederik Andersen (Toronto)
With all the division’s consistently good first-stringers already on the roster, Andersen gets the third spot in net by default. Of course, posting a 0.922 Save% and a 21-11-1 record, Andersen does get here by merit.
C-16-Aleksander Barkov (Florida)
Not missing significant time with injury for the first time in his career, Barkov finished last season with 27 goals and 78 points last season. Also recognized my many of the game’s elite defensive centres, Barkov is on pace for his first 80-point season.
D-72-Thomas Chabot (Ottawa)
D-33-Zdeno Chara (Boston) - Commissioner’s Selection
With only six points in 30 games so far, Chara is on pace for his lowest-scoring season since he had seasons of nine, 11, and eight points from 1999 to 2001 with the Islanders. While Chara was always respected for his defensive game, one would think such a low-scoring season would make teams hesitant to bring on (or keep) a soon-to-be 42-year-old who was never the greatest skater.
D-26-Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo)
Dahlin, as I type this, leads all rookie defencemen with 26 points. I had to pick someone for Buffalo, and it made more sense choosing Dahlin than it would have to snub a forward just for the Sabres.
C-13-Max Domi (Montreal)
Last season, Domi finished with 45 points in 82 gamesfor Arizona. This season, he leads the Canadiens with 44 points in only 50 games. Domi’s improved to All-Star level.
C-95-Matt Duchene (Ottawa)
It was a tough choice for Ottawa’s extra representative between Duchene and Mark Stone. In my opinion, Stone makes a lot of sense as a representative as he is the leading scorer, highly regarded for his defence, and a longer-tenured Senator that can be a real “representative.” However, Duchene is on pace for the same 37 goals and 84 points as Stone, despite having played 40 games rather than 49.
C-9-Jack Eichel (Buffalo)
D-77-Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay)
The 58-point pace Hedman is scoring at isn’t quite the same level as his 63-point season or the 73-point year before it, but he is still a top-15 defenceman offensively, and is still logging big minutes for one of the league’s biggest Cup contenders.
G-35-Jimmy Howard (Detroit)
R-86-Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay)
C-71-Dylan Larkin (Detroit)
As a prosective 30+goal 70+point man and briefly the record holder for fastest skater, it boggles my mind that Larkin, the guy the Red Wings are building around, hasn’t been named to an All-Star game since his 2016 rookie year. I would seek to change that.
R-16-Mitchell Marner (Toronto)
Such a big deal has been made about how Marner was snubbed from the All-Star roster that I’d invite a lot of hate for not including Marner here (readership permitting). The thing is though that Marner absolutely deserves the All-Star nod. He is far and away the leading scorer, having already topped the 60-point mark where no teammate this year has.
C-34-Auston Matthews (Toronto) - Captain
R-88-David Pastrnak (Boston)
D-26-Jeff Petry (Montreal)
Shea Weber, following his return from injury, was listed as Montreal’s entry for the Last Man In vote. I think it should have been Petry. 12th among blueliners in scoring, Petry has 34 points and is on pace to top 50.
D-44-Morgan Rielly (Toronto)
While he has been overtaken, Rielly spent a good chunk of the first half of the season leading all defencemen in scoring. In fact, he was briefly the NHL’s leading scorer, period. After breaking out with 52 points last season, Rielly has 48 points in 48 games this season.
L-53-Jeff Skinner (Buffalo) - Last Man In
C-91-Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay)
C-91-John Tavares (Toronto)
G-88-Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay)
D-3-Keith Yandle (Florida)
D-4-Tyson Barrie (Colorado)
Coming off a career-high of 57 points, Colorado’s top offensive defenceman is on pace to top that with 66 points. He is the highest-scoring defenceman in the Central Division, not just among All-Star snubs, but in the division as a whole.
G-30-Ben Bishop (Dallas)
Among Central Division goaltenders, Bishop’s numbers are the best for a starter. He has a 0.921 Save% with a 16-12-2 record.
G-40-Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota)
L-9-Filip Forsberg (Nashville)
Forsberg has so far lost 17 games to injury. However, Forsberg, easily Nashville’s best offensive forward, is still on pace for over 30 goals. Unhindered by injury, it could have been Forsberg’s first 70-point campaign.
D-56-Erik Gustafsson (Chicago)
An odd pick for an All-Star defenceman, eh? Among skaters, Gustafsson, is third on the Blackhawks with an average TOI of 21:58, and is on pace for 50 points.
D-4-Miro Heiskanen (Dallas)
D-59-Roman Josi (Nashville)
R-88-Patrick Kane (Chicago)
R-29-Patrik Laine (Winnipeg)
This is me being a Jets homer. I love me a pure goal-scorer, and will forgive a lot from a player of that ilk. In Laine’s case, while he has only scored four goals in his last 24 games versus 21 in his first 24 games, he is still on pace for 43 goals. I think it is very safe to say Laine won’t be winning the Rocket Richard this year, but he has the raw skill to bounce back for a strong second half provided he gets the right playing situation.
L-92-Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado) - Last Man In
C-29-Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado) - Captain
C-90-Ryan O’Reilly (St. Louis)
L-11-Zach Parise (Minnesota)
Who would have thought back when Parise signed that deal in 2012 that he would turn 34 before really delivering? He is on pace for 34 goals and 79 points, which would be his best season since he had 38 goals and 82 points for New Jersey all the way back in 2010.
R-96-Mikko Rantanen (Colorado)
G-35-Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
C-55-Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg)
C-91-Tyler Seguin (Dallas)
Stars owner Jim Lites may have felt the need to drag Seguin and linemate Jamie Benn’s names through the mud, but Seguin is having a good season. Not quite career-high good, but still on pace for better than his 2017 season.
C-90-Jason Spezza (Dallas) - Commissioner’s Selection
Spezza is on pace for more point than he had last season, but neither 26 points, nor the 36 he’s on pace for this year, is a particularly high bar. With that in mind, Spezza makes some sense as a Commissioner’s Selection type of pick. He’s 35 years old and a pending UFA, and while I can’t see him retiring this coming summer, I don’t quite see him extending his career to 40 either.
D-76-PK Subban (Nashville)
After missing 19 games earlier this season due to injury, Subban is on pace for only 36 points in 63 games. While it is Mattias Ekholm who leads Preds in scoring, Subban’s inclusion would make more sense in the spirit of the All-Star Game. It’s an entertainment event, the best opportunity there is for players to show their individual personalities and indulge in some self-expression with less fear of criticism. With the most unbridled personality in the NHL, you’ve got to include Subban if he’s not injured.
D-20-Ryan Suter (Minnesota)
Despite having just turned 34, Suter is enjoying the best offensive years of his career. Coming off his second season of having a career-high 51 points, the shut-down point-producer is on pace for 52.
R-91-Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis)
On St. Louis, there’s Ryan O’Reilly, Tarasenko and David Perron, and there’s everyone else. I found the differences in Tarasenko and Perron’s scoring numbers to be minimal, so I decided that despite trailing Perron, Tarasenko would be my extra pick because he’s the bigger name.
R-26-Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg)
C-20-Sebastian Aho (Carolina)
R-13-Cam Atkinson (Columbus)
C-19-Nicklas Backstrom (Washington)
For the Capitals, it was a no-brainer that the extra All-Star in this hypothetical scenario would be one of their centres. Looking at their numbers, it’s clear that Backstrom, reasserting his place as the no.1 centre on pace for 80 points, as opposed to Kuznetsov’s under-70-point pace, that gets the nod.
C-13-Mathew Barzal (NY Islanders)
G-72-Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus)
Both the defencemen and goaltending picks for this division were difficult due to the lack of appealing options. I ultimately picked players who could be reasonably expected to perform well under ordinary circumstances. Such is the case with Bobrovsky, who only has a 0.904 Save% in 58 games this season.
D-74-John Carlson (Washington)
C-87-Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh)
C-28-Claude Giroux (Philadelphia)
D-53-Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia)
Gostisbehere appears to have a tendency to bounce between strong and weak seasons. After a very strong 65-point finish last season, Gostisbehere is on pace for a much weaker 35 points. It’s based on the total of his career to date that Gostisbehere gets named here.
G-70-Braden Holtby (Washington)
D-3-Seth Jones (Columbus)
R-81-Phil Kessel (Pittsburgh)
Last season saw Kessel return to the 30-goal mark with 34 goals while setting a new career-high with 92 points. It was either Kessel or Evgeni Malkin for this spot, but I ultimately chose Kessel as he is on pace for another 90 point season.
L-27-Anders Lee (NY Islanders)
The Isles’ first-year captain gets the nod here over Josh Bailey, with whom Lee is tied for second in team scoring, for three reasons. Firstly, Lee is coming off seasons of 34 and 40 goals. Secondly, Lee is on pace to top 30 goals again where Bailey isn’t. Thirdly, Lee gets the edge as team captain.
D-58-Kris Letang (Pittsburgh) - Last Man In
G-30-Henrik Lundqvist (NY Rangers)
R-21-Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey)
L-9-Artemi Panarin (Columbus)
Seemingly playing out the end of his time with Columbus as nears unrestricted free agency, Panarin is making a case for a big money contract with his current season. He is on pace for 33 goals, 59 assists, and 92 points, all of which would be career-highs for Panarin.
D-28-Damon Severson (New Jersey)
With limited selection for the Devils’ additional All-Star, it was ultimately down to picking one of their offensive defencemen. As the leading defensive scorer for New Jersey, Severson gets the nod.
D-74-Jaccob Slavin (Carolina)
While Slavin is seen first and foremost as a defensive defenceman, Slavin has found some consistent offence. He is coming consecutive 30+point seasons and is on pace for a career-high 36 points. Despite playing on a team with Justin Faulk and Dougie Hamilton, Slavin leads all Hurricanes defencemen in scoring.
D-8-Zach Werenski (Columbus)
Werenski sophomore slumped last season, as he fell from 47 points to 37. Werenski still had a strong season, and is back to a 46-point pace this season. It’s looking like a bit of a Columbus lovefest, but Columbus’ top players are so good and there’s such slim pickings in the rest of the division.
R-14-Justin Williams (Carolina) - Commissioner’s Selection
Having scored 27 points in 48 games so far this season, a 46-point pace. Williams doesn’t immediately strike one as a Commissioner’s Selection type. However, the first-year captain is 37, not exactly smack-dab in his prime, and a pending UFA. He’s another who could extend their career with another contract, but retirement is nearing.
C-93-Mika Zibanejad (NY Rangers)
With 47 points in 72 games last season, Zibanejad was only technically the Rangers’ no.1 centre, just having that spot officially due to the Rangers’ lack of no.1 centres. This season, with 44 points in 48 games and a pace for 76 points, he is most definitely a no.1 centre.
Boeser scored 29 goals and 55 points last season before back injury ended his year. It’s easy to see him winning the Calder Trophy had he had the full year. After a slow start, Boeser’s gotten on track and is on pace to top 30 goals and 60 points.
D-88-Brent Burns (San Jose)
C-39-Logan Couture (San Jose)
Even though the Sharks are well-represented in this All-Star Game, what with them being the hosts and all, my personal rules for this dictated I add at least one member of each team to the All-Star roster. Leading all Sharks forwards in scoring and currently on pace for 30 goals and a career-high 74 points, Couture is the natural pick here.
D-8-Drew Doughty (Los Angeles)
C-29-Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton) - Last Man In
D-23-Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona)
As Coyotes’ captain, Ekman-Larsson is a solid pick to round out the All-Star roster. He still isn’t back to his 50+point territory from earlier in his career, but is on pace for over 40 points again and is the second-highest-scoring defenceman in the division not already named to this All-Star Game.
G-29-Marc Andre Fleury (Vegas)
L-13-Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary)
C-15-Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim)
The big man has aged quite a bit more gracefully than his 2003-drafted peers. Their production has fallen off a cliff, while Getzlaf is coming off 61 points in 56 games. On pace for only 55 points, Getzlaf may be beginning to decline, but he’s far and away the Ducks’ leading scorer.
G-36-John Gibson (Anaheim)
D-5-Mark Giordano (Calgary)
This season has been an unexpected career renaissance for the Flames captain. He’s always been really good, and people have always known that, but he failed to reach 40 points in each of the preceding seasons. This season, continuing to play strong defence, he is on pace for 86 points. Second in league scoring among defencemen, he is the highest-scoring blueliner not already in the All-Star Game.
D-65-Erik Karlsson (San Jose)
C-9-Clayton Keller (Arizona)
C-97-Connor McDavid (Edmonton) - Captain
C-23-Sean Monahan (Calgary)
If Colorado’s entire top line can be in the fo-realz All-Star Game, then why can’t I reassemble major scoring duos in this made-up setting? On pace for 44 goals and 100 points after years of hovering around the 30-goal and 60-point thresholds, Monahan has made a strong case for inclusion.
C-93-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton)
Nugent-Hopkins has been somewhat lost in the shuffle of other first-overall picks and other 2011 picks having greater individual and team success with other teams. It doesn’t help that Nugent-Hopkins hasn’t finished a season with 50 or more points since back-to-back 56-point seasons in 2014 and 2015. Fully healthy so far this season, Nuge has a team-third 46 points and is on pace for 77 points overall.
D-25-Darnell Nurse (Edmonton)
For the other defenceman spot, I initially considered Noah Hanifin, as the third-highest scoring defenceman in the Pacific not already in the All-Star Game. Nurse, however, has 38 points versus 41 for Hanifin, which is barely a difference, and has been averaging more TOI, all the while playing for the badly mismanaged bottom-feeding Oilers instead of the maybe-Cup contending Flames.
C-8-Joe Pavelski (San Jose)
C-40-Elias Pettersson (Vancouver)
G-33-David Rittich (Calgary)
In the Pacific Division this year, the goalies are either A) already in the All-Star Game, B) having really bad seasons, or C) play for San Jose and I am not adding another Shark. That leaves Rittich, who has taken over the crease in Calgary and has a 0.917 Save% and a 18-4-4 record in 29 games.
C-19-Joe Thornton (San Jose) - Commissioner’s Selection
Thornton is my pick for the Commissioner’s Selection for pretty obvious reasons. He has that combination of dwindling point totals, pending UFA status, and pushing-40-ness that lends itself to impending retirement. Not that I expect this season to be his last. He is on pace for 42 points, which is still serviceable from anyone. It is worth noting that some players who were Commissioner’s Selections in actual All-Star Games did go on for another season. Craig MacTavish was a CS in 1996, only to play until 1997, while Vyacheslav Fetisov was one in 1997 and played until 1998.
While a lot of attention was, and still is, paid to the top line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith, Tuch has quietly become a top NHL scorer. He finished last season with 37 points as a rookie after being claimed in the expansion draft by Vegas, and has already beaten that production, with 39 points in 43 games, first on the Golden Knights.
I’ll keep doing this whole kind of thing until the NHL gets is act together and makes the rosters bigger.
All information up to date as January 22, 2019.