Breaking down the most egregious 2020 NHL All-Star team snubs

Watch as David Pastrnak finishes off a nice rush by the Boston Bruins.

The rosters for the NHL’s four divisional All-Star squads are nearly set.

After announcing the four captains earlier this month — Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin, who’s elected to skip the festivities to rest up for the season’s second half — the league announced the next slate of names for each of the four teams Monday. Each squad has one spot remaining, however, giving fans the chance to vote in one final player from each division.

But as is the case every year, the All-Star Game is just as much about who’s there as it is about who isn’t — the snubs, the leftovers, the forgotten crowd whose early-season success goes under-appreciated. To be fair, it’s safe to assume a fair number of said snubs are just fine taking the weekend off to rest their bodies and reset before the grind that is the second half of the NHL season.

Even so, it’s worth highlighting the collection of names who’ve put up all-star-calibre numbers so far but won’t get the snazzy jersey to commemorate it. That being the case, here’s your illustrious 2020 NHL All-Snub Team:

F: Brad Marchand (Captain?!)
F: Sebastian Aho
F: David Perron
F: Aleksander Barkov
F: Evgeni Malkin
F: Max Pacioretty

D: Quinn Hughes
D: Cale Makar

G: Tristan Jarry
G: Ben Bishop

A few names on that list should ring immediately obvious, none more so than Marchand, who’d undoubtedly earn the distinction of having the ‘C’ stitched to his all-snub sweater, with his exclusion from the event hard to understand given the Hart Trophy-calibre performance he’s put forth so far. But what about the rest of the roster?

A closer look at the squad, by position:

The Forwards

A cursory glance at the league’s scoring leaders should tell you pretty much all you need to know about Brad Marchand’s absence from the all-star festivities. The Bruins winger is tied for third in the Art Ross race with 58 points through 40 games so far. Third — as in, among every player who’s touched NHL ice so far this season, only two have scored more than Marchand. Strip that down to even-strength scoring, and he reigns supreme as the league leader.

The only case that seemingly could be levelled against him is that the player he sits tied with in the scoring race is his own linemate, Atlantic Division captain David Pastrnak. The fact that the other skater on that line is star pivot Patrice Bergeron doesn’t help either. But the context in which Marchand’s prolific scoring has come should only matter in talks of his MVP candidacy — his performance is all-star-worthy either way.

Not to mention, the two players sitting above Marchand are in fact linemates Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, both of whom were selected as all-stars.

Sebastian Aho’s omission is no less odd. The Hurricanes star currently sits tied for the fifth-most goals in the league, having already potted 22 through 39 games. The four players above him on that list were all tabbed as all-stars, as were the six players ranked below him.

Interestingly, Marchand and Aho weren’t only slighted by the missed all-star nod — both were also left off the list of players who are eligible to be voted in by fans, with Bergeron and Teuvo Teravainen earning that spot for each snub’s respective club.

The strangest misfire of all is David Perron, given that the All-Star Game is in his team’s backyard. With this year’s festivities in St. Louis, it was defender Alexander Pietrangelo, goalie Jordan Binnington and forward Ryan O’Reilly tabbed as the three hometown all-stars. All fine choices — except for the fact that it’s Perron who’s currently leading the Blues in scoring with 40 points through 40 games, stepping up to keep the club afloat after star winger Vladimir Tarasenko was lost to injury. Perron has also emerged among the most clutch players in the game so far this season, sitting tied for the league lead with six game-winning goals already.

As for the other three forwards rounding out the all-snub roster, the numbers suggest they’ve done enough to earn all-star status, but were outdone by the selection criteria (i.e. each divisional squad requiring at least one representative from each of that division’s NHL teams).

While Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau deservedly earned a spot after his dominant first half, teammate Aleksander Barkov is on the outside looking in despite sitting 12th in league-scoring. As is Max Pacioretty, who sits just a few spots lower at 14th overall in league scoring — for frame of reference, only three forwards in Pacioretty’s division have outscored him up to this point — while having launched the third-most shots on net so far as well.

Perron, Barkov and Pacioretty are still eligible to join the fray should fans elect to vote them in. That isn’t the case for Evgeni Malkin, who earned the Marchand-Aho treatment.

While the Penguins pivot isn’t among that top tier of league scorers due to missing time early, Malkin’s performance since returning has helped keep the Penguins in the playoff picture despite a rash of injuries that’s included a long-term absence from Sidney Crosby. All told, Malkin sits with the sixth-best scoring pace in the league as 2019 comes to a close, rolling along at a clip of 1.40 points per game.

The Defence

The two defenders on this list are also likely the top two names contending for this year’s Calder Trophy, as rookies Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes were both left off their respective divisional teams.

Both have been minute-eating game-changers for their clubs, with Makar ranking second in team scoring behind only MacKinnon and Hughes pacing all defenders in Vancouver. Widen the scope to the league as a whole, and the two young guns still look dominant — Makar currently ranks eighth in scoring among all NHL defencemen, while Hughes is close behind at 12th with one fewer point.

That said, both ran into tough competition for the few blue-line spots on the all-star squads. Makar missed the mark while veterans Pietrangelo and Roman Josi — both Norris Trophy-calibre rearguards — made it. Hughes, meanwhile, was left out while just one defender earned a Pacific Division spot — reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano.

The Netminders

Young Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry finds himself in a tough position when it comes to his all-star candidacy. There’s no question Jarry’s been a home run for Pittsburgh this season, and when they’ve needed it most — the 24-year-old leads the league in save percentage (.939), goals-against average (1.87) and is tied for the lead in shutouts, with three to his name.

But as impressive as those numbers may be, he’s only suited up for 17 games so far this year, far fewer than all-star selections Braden Holtby (28) and Joonis Korpisalo (32), who have less impressive numbers but have had more time to see those averages dip. That said, with the latter out for “weeks,” according to his head coach, a spot could soon open up for Jarry to potentially fill.

While Jarry’s omission comes down to games played, the same can’t be said of Ben Bishop, who’s been elite among bona fide starters so far this season. Compared to all other netminders who’ve appeared in at least 20 games so far this year — i.e. the No. 1 netminder crop — Bishop sits third in save percentage (.926) and goals-against average (2.34).

The veteran similarly found himself up against tough divisional competition for the Central Division net, with Binnington and Connor Hellebuyck earning spots. Bishop’s save percentage and goals-against average rank better than both, though Hellebuyck has more shutouts to his name.

As for Binnington, better numbers were likely not enough to oust the young netminder given the location of this year’s all-star weekend, but they’re more than enough to clinch Bishop that coveted all-snub status.


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