NHL Power Rankings: Fixing the All-Star Rosters Edition

Blake Wheeler says he won’t lose any sleep over not being voted into the All-Star game, calling the system a popularity contest.

So the National Hockey League announced its complete 2016 All-Star Game roster Wednesday, and it featured such obvious inclusions as John Scott and obvious exclusions such as Sidney Crosby. We all saw that coming in October, right?

Kidding aside, the league did a decent job of filling out the spots when you consider that (a) each team must be represented, even if that team plays its hockey in Buffalo or Columbus; (b) there is no “Young Stars” game to help spread the spotlight among the 30 clubs and feature breakout rookies; and (c) the fans hijacked the Arizona Coyotes by mock-voting a healthy scratch into the showcase.

We’re of the belief Scott should give up his spot on the ice to a real star and go to Nashville and do some colour commentary or something to acknowledge the fans.

For this week’s Power Rankings write-ups, we look at each club’s all-star selections and name the one true star that should be repping that franchise. (Except for Dallas — it gets two.)

It’s the NHL Power Rankings: Fixing the All-Star Rosters Edition, because we’re nitpicky like that.

Rank Team

Fans pick: Alex Ovechkin, captain
NHL picks: Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom
Our pick: Holtby
Ovechkin should be at the All-Star Game, no doubt. But Holtby’s performance has been bonkers: 1.93 GAA, 25 wins, .932 save percentage. The Capitals are 12-0-0 this season when leading after one period. That’s because Holtby slams the door. (Evgeny Kusnetsov made a strong case for himself, too.)

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Fans pick: Patrick Kane, captain
NHL pick: Jonathan Toews
Our pick: Kane
The man with arguably the best hands in the hockey now has 16(!) multi-point games. Leads everyone in assists (36) and points (59). Rookie linemate Artemi Panarin could’ve made a case here, too.

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NHL picks: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin
Our pick: Benn and Seguin
So good, we can’t pick just one. With 52 and 50 points, respectively, Benn and Seguin sit two-three in scoring but are easily the league’s best one-two punch. John Klingberg is a casualty of playing on a star-laden team.

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Fans pick: Jaromir Jagr, captain
NHL pick: Aaron Ekblad, Roberto Luongo
Our pick: Luongo
All due respect to Jagr, who stole the keys to the Fountain of Youth and stuffed them in his hockey pants, but Luongo’s .930 save percentage is the main reason Florida has won 10 straight and sits atop the Atlantic.

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NHL picks: Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick
Our pick: Doughty
Tough to leave some worthy Kings off the list (Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli), but this is what happens when you’re forced to include a player from every team. Doughty is undeniable.

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NHL pick: Devan Dubnyk
Our pick: Ryan Suter
On the eve of the ASG roster announcement, Zach Parise scored a hat trick, and had he not missed nine games to injury, he’s be a real contender. Still, boring ol’ Suter has 27 points. Not bad for defence-first blueliner.

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NHL picks: Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano
Our pick: T.J. Brodie
Gaudreau, a top-10 scorer with five game-winning goals, deserves his spot, but you can pretty much pinpoint the Flames’ turnaround this season to when Brodie got healthy.

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NHL pick: John Tavares
Our pick: Tavares
You gotta go with the face of the franchise, but it would’ve been nice to see underrated Kyle Okposo — the Islanders’ leading scorer — snag an invite as well.

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NHL pick: Vladimir Tarasenko
Our pick: Tarasenko
Not only is the Russian tied for first overall in goals (24), his stellar possession numbers make bloggers drool. Where entertainment meets mathematics.

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NHL pick: P.K. Subban
Our pick: Subban
Despite scoring just one goal (i.e., one more than John Scott) and taking a lot of penalties, Subban continues to be a bright light on and off the ice. The showcase needs his personality even more than his slick passes.

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NHL pick: Ryan McDonagh
Our pick: Mats Zuccarello
Henrik Lundqvist lost his spot because the Rangers are stumbling, and it’s hard to pick the King over Schneider and Holtby right now. We’d like to see unheralded Zuccarello rewarded for his stellar bounce-back, even if his 22.5 shooting percentage is unsustainable.

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NHL pick: Dylan Larkin
Our pick: Henrik Zetterberg
The league is wise to sell youth and speed, and Larkin has been a wonder. Zetterberg is still this season’s best Red Wing, though, and might go down as one of the most underrated players of his era.

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NHL picks: Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Pekka Rinne
Our pick: Weber
If we’re going purely on first-half performance, I’m picking Josi — but no way Weber is sitting out the “Hardest Shot” contest. Also: Do you really think Rinne gets the nod over Cory Crawford and Jake Allen if this game isn’t held in Nashville?

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NHL pick: Patrice Bergeron
Our pick: Bergeron
Boston’s top scorer (37 points) is targeting yet another Selke Trophy and has sparked a deadly power-play unit.

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NHL pick: Cory Schneider
Our pick: Schneider
The goaltender has essentially carried a mediocre-to-poor club on his back since he inherited the No. 1 role from Martin Brodeur. Why the Devils are in the hunt.

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NHL pick: Erik Karlsson
Our pick: Karlsson
So what if the two-time Norris champ isn’t the biggest 3-on-3 fan? His dominance — NHL-high 1,138:22 ice time, fourth-overall in points — makes him a no-brainer. Should’ve been named captain of the Atlantic. (We see you, Mike Hoffman.)

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NHL pick: Matt Duchene
Our pick: Duchene
Duchene over Nathan MacKinnon in a coin flip. Not Cole Harbour’s year.

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NHL pick: Leo Komarov
Our pick: Komarov
Uncle Leo represents our best shot of seeing bodychecking in the All-Star Game.

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NHL picks: Steven Stamkos, Ben Bishop
Our pick: Stamkos
You gotta have the most important story of the year at your showcase event. Helps that Stammer (healthy) is the one Lightning threat who hasn’t fallen off the NHL’s leaderboard. Bishop is lucky to have been chosen over Petr Mrazek, Craig Anderson and Tuukka Rask.

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NHL pick: Dustin Byfuglien
Our pick: Blake Wheeler
Oh, the beauty of the NHL inviting the two most vocal critics of 3-on-3 — Karlsson and Byfuglien — to play more of it when they could be downing umbrella drinks on a beach. Wheeler is seventh overall in NHL scoring. What’s he gotta do to get in? (Watch him speak about his snub in the video above — it’s gold.)

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NHL picks: Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang
Our pick: Malkin
Sidney Crosby’s total number of NHL All-Star Game appearances remains at one (2007). He’s been on fire of late, but Malkin’s body of work in the first three months is superior.

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NHL picks: Corey Perry, John Gibson
Our pick: Gibson
Not a fan of the Perry pick. Presumably he gets in over, say, Toffoli or Kopitar because the NHL wants to spread the love. Gibson’s 1.76 GAA is the best in the league.

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Fans pick: John Scott, captain
Our pick: Shane Doan
For shame. As expected, Scott’s fan-voted inclusion in the game robs a deserving Coyote — Mikkel Boedker, Max Domi, Oliver Ekman-Larsson — of a spot. We’d love to see 39-year-old Doan and his team-leading 15 goals head to Nashville instead.

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NHL picks: Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns
Our pick: Pavelski
Burns is a wookie on defence, logging 26 minutes a night and approaching a point-per-game pace from the blueline, but we’re going with Captain Pavelski and his 20 goals. Despite all his PP time, Burns is a team-low minus-15, which is not awesome.

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NHL pick: Claude Giroux
Our pick: Giroux
We’ll go with the captain and his power-play-weighted statistics, if only because defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere arrived late to the party. (Side note: Of all the years, this one seems like a bad one to nix the Young Guns.)

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NHL pick: Taylor Hall
Our pick: Hall
Thanks to Connor McDavid’s injury, this is the easiest single pick from any team. Hall is the lone, true all-star in Edmonton this season.

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NHL pick: Daniel Sedin
Our pick: Sedin
Deserves two spots. One for him, and another for all the teeth he lost being awesome.

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NHL pick: Justin Faulk
Our pick: Faulk
Right up there with Hall as the easiest pick from a bad team. Faulk leads his team in points, shots and ice time. He’s a defenceman.

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NHL pick: Brandon Saad
Our pick: Saad
If only because John Tortorella has yet to question Saad’s fitness level.

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NHL pick: Ryan O’Reilly
Our pick: O’Reilly
Patience. We’ll see you in 2017, Jack Eichel.

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