The coaches (Jon Cooper, Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, Barry Trotz) and fan-elected captains (Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid, P.K. Subban, Alex Ovechkin) for the NHL’s 2018 All-Star Weekend have been anointed, and on Wednesday the remainder of the inter-divisional 3-on-3 tournament’s rosters will be announced.
The league’s hockey operations make the call on the remaining selections, with the caveat that all 31 clubs be represented. It can be a tricky task meeting that requirement as well as filling positional needs and accommodating some star players that may wish to sit this one out.
Regardless whom the NHL chooses to represent the sport later this month at the Tampa showcase, we made our own list.
It’s our NHL Power Rankings: Ideal All-Star Game Selections Edition.
As always, teams are ranked in order of their current 2017-18 awesomeness. The write-ups explain who we’d like to see represent your team at the all-star game. For those with a captain already named, we’ve selected a second all-star.
Someone will be snubbed.
Steven Stamkos, whose recorded voice greets new Tampa visitors through the loudspeaker in the airport tram, was deservedly voted captain of the Atlantic Division. But he shouldn’t be the only representative at the host city’s all-star weekend. Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Vezina front-runner Andrei Vasilevsky — the most deserving of the bunch — should all be there.
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant has himself a case as the most worthy all-star of the first half of the season. He should carpool with his No. 1 centre, William Karlsson.
We wouldn’t put up a fuss if the Bruins’ entire top line — David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron — made the trip. Forced to choose one, we’ll go with Marchand. His 1.25 points per game ranks fourth overall, and Bergeron’s back-checking has no business in a shinny event.
A healthy Mark Scheifele would have gotten our vote, but truth be told, the centre’s injury makes this pick easy. Captain Blake Wheeler, that rare winger who only gets better in his 30s, has been putting this team on his back for years. His all-star invite is long overdue. (Connor Hellebuyck has a nice case, too.)
Alex Ovechkin is back to his old tricks, leading the NHL in goals and fuelling Washington to the top of the Metropolitan heap, and is a deserving Metro captain. We wouldn’t be angry if Evgeny Kuznetsov joined him, although defenceman John Carlson is piling up power-play points.
Only Kucherov has more points per game than Nathan MacKinnon‘s 1.27. The centreman has been so good, if Colorado can snap up a wild-card spot, he’ll warrant serious Hart consideration.
7. Dallas Stars
The ferocious top trio of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov would all be welcome in Tampa, but the quiet elevation of defenceman John Klingberg (39 points and a plus-12 rating through 43 games) is the safest pick. Give the man some spotlight.
P.K. Subban, who eats up these opportunities like Lucky Charms, was voted Central captain. With Filip Forsberg sidelined, it’s a simple decision to honour Roman Josi as well — a testament to Nashville’s dynamic D core.
With Darryl Sutter’s shackles off, Drew Doughty has an excellent chance at claiming his second Norris this season. And his interviews are hotter.
10. St. Louis Blues
Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo are all worthy in their own right. Petro is such a horse, and with slick forwards easier to come by, we’ll give him the first right of refusal.
A hearty stick-tap to Cory Schneider, but the new and improved Taylor Hall (42 points in 39 games) has earned this one. Maybe Connor McDavid will look longingly into the winger’s eyes thinking about what could’ve been.
Corey Crawford would be the no-brainer if he was healthy. He’s not. So we’re picking Patrick Kane, whose hands were built for 3-on-3 fun.
Sergei Bobrovsky and Henrik Lundqvist are neck-and-neck as the Metro’s best goalie. Bob’s a safe selection, but Seth Jones and Artemi Panarin could join him.
Many Leafs view Frederik Andersen as the team MVP, but the goalie’s shot at an ASG invite will likely get lost in the mail because Vasilevsky is better and Carey Price is Montreal’s only legit option. Auston Matthews is the no-brainer, but fans of fun hockey should hope Mitch Marner or William Nylander goes with him. The dark horse: Morgan Rielly. He’s been that good.
15. New York Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist is 35 years old and could well be a Vezina finalist. He is the Rangers.
Philadelphia brings another case of an entire top line worthy of consideration, but the way captain Claude Giroux has bounced back and is enjoying his best season in six years, he gets the nod.
Phil Kessel has been more productive, but Sidney Crosby is still the Penguins’ biggest star. Does he show up in an Olympic year? Crosby doesn’t even believe he’ll be picked. We believe hockey ops would like him there.
“I don’t expect to be there, to be honest with you,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday. “I haven’t even thought about it. I don’t feel like I’ve had an all-star first half.”
18. Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau was built in a lab specially designed to churn out 3-on-3 superheroes.
19. San Jose Sharks
It took forever for reigning Norris champ Brent Burns to score a goal this season. Suddenly he’s back where he belongs: atop the Sharks’ leaderboard. No one embraces the all-star experience like Burnzie and his kids. The NHL needs him there.
20. Minnesota Wild
Ryan Suter is the best defenceman on a team that preaches defence first.
21. Anaheim Ducks
Despite missing a chunk of the season’s first half due to injury, Ryan Getzlaf is the Ducks’ most impactful player (24 points in 19 games) and their greatest star.
Carolina is where the “one all-star from every team” rule gets pushed to the limit. Let’s see sooth-skating Sebastien Aho work some of his magic for a national audience.
Dylan Larkin needs to go head-to-head with Mr. McDavid in the fastest skater to give the Saturday Skills Competition some juice.
24. Florida Panthers
A Vincent Trocheck or Jonathan Huberdeau invite wouldn’t surprise us, but Aleksander Barkov is the most complete Panther out there.
Carey Price is the best player on the Montreal Canadiens, and it’s not close anymore. If Price begs for the rest, we expect Brendan Gallagher to do the job. Nice campaign for a poor team.
We want John Tavares to go so we can pepper him with contract questions. Also: he’s really good at hockey.
27. Ottawa Senators
We want Erik Karlsson to go so we can pepper him with contract questions. Also: he’s really good at hockey.
28. Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid was voted by fans to captain the Pacific. He should be the only Oiler to attend, but in the effort of completing this exercise, we’ll put Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the runner-up. He’s one of the few members of Edmonton’s core who hasn’t underachieved.
Rookie Brock Boeser is a beauty and a threat to win the shooting accuracy contest.
30. Arizona Coyotes
Clayton Keller is the next big hope for a franchise parched for star power. Your eyes are magnetized to him when he’s on the ice.
31. Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel. American fans can salivate as Matthews, Eichel and Larkin tear it up for the Atlantic’s 3-on-3 squad and dream about what their Olympic team might’ve looked like.