NHL All-Star Game snubs: What might a reserve roster look like? 

Caroline Cameron and Jamal Mayers reveal who earned the final spots from each division to the 2023 NHL All-Star game as voted on by the fans.

The NHL announced on Thursday the addition of 12 players to this year’s group of All-Stars, with three players per division being added to the festivities in South Florida Feb. 4 thanks to a fan vote.  

After the initial rosters, which included one player from each team, were released earlier this month, fans filled in the gaps by voting in some of the league’s biggest stars like Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak and Nathan MacKinnon, to name a few. With all four 11-man rosters now finalized, we’ll soon see 36 skaters and eight goalies represent their teams and divisions.  

But when you’ve got a league with as much elite talent as the NHL does right now, 44 All-Stars doesn’t quite feel like enough, does it? 

With that in mind, we’ve put together one more team — call them the reserve squad, the snub club, the Almost-All-Stars — made up of players who ultimately didn’t make the cut but deserve a nod all the same. Like each divisional team, our All-Snub roster is made up of nine skaters and two netminders, with a balance of forwards and defencemen and at least two players from each division represented.

William Nylander, F, Toronto Maple Leafs: He’s got the style worthy of the All-Star red carpet experience and the on-ice production to match. Nylander is in the midst of a career year with the Maple Leafs, leading the star-studded team in goals (24) and sitting second in points (50) only behind All-Star teammate Mitch Marner. It was no surprise to see Auston Matthews as one of three additional players voted by fans onto the Atlantic roster — he, too, is more than worthy of the honour — but it would’ve been fun to see Nylander make the cut for the first time in his career.  

Kyle Connor, F, Winnipeg Jets: Year after year, Connor quietly puts up elite numbers, and this season is no different. He’d likely have been named to the NHL’s initial roster if not for the lights-out year teammate Josh Morrissey is having on the Jets’ blue line. Connor’s team-leading 54 points through 45 games, good for 12th on the league leaderboard, has him on pace to top last year’s career-best 93. 

Cole Caufield, F, Montreal Canadiens: The NHL’s All-Star Weekend is about celebrating the best in the game today and the brightest stars of tomorrow. That’s Caufield. Not only is he one of the more entertaining players to watch, he’s pacing all Canadiens teammates in goals with 26 — already three more than last year’s total — and sits ninth in the league in the category.  

[brightcove videoID=6318818560112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Jack Eichel, F, Vegas Golden Knights: After years of pitting the 2015 second overall pick against the lone player selected before him, this finally could’ve been our first opportunity to see Eichel and Connor McDavid on the same team. But alas, we’ll have to wait. Eichel is recently back from an injury that sidelined him for most of December, and could surely use the rest instead of a trip to South Florida. But the biggest young stars belong on the All-Star stage, and Eichel is just that. The Golden Knight is back to scoring at a point-per-game pace this year, and after the long saga that was his trade, surgery and recovery, it’s great to see him back.  

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F, Edmonton Oilers: By virtue of sporting the same sweater as Connor McDavid (the world’s most obvious All-Star choice) and Leon Draisaitl (the world’s most obvious vote-in candidate), the odds were stacked against Nugent-Hopkins getting into the All-Star festivities. But he deserves a nod for our reserve roster — just look at the numbers he’s putting up. Through 46 games, RNH has 21 goals (well on pace for easily his most yet) and with 53 points to his name he’s already passed last season’s total and sits 13th in the league.  

Aleksander Barkov, F, Florida Panthers: While his numbers aren’t as explosive as last year’s career-high goals count, Barkov’s heating up with a six-game point streak as well as 10 points in nine games since the turn of the calendar. He’s also the captain of the All-Star hosts, which has to count for something, right? 

Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres: Halfway through what is a career year, Dahlin has already matched last season’s 13 goals and is just two shy of Erik Karlsson’s league-leading tally among defencemen. And, also like Karlsson, he’s a front-runner for the Norris Trophy. His 48 points on the season has him sitting second among his Sabres teammates (behind the team’s only All-Star, Tage Thompson) and third among all defencemen league-wide.  

Dougie Hamilton, D, New Jersey Devils: There’s a lot to love about this season’s New Jersey Devils, the young squad finally looking like it’s ready to jump into the playoffs. Dougie Hamilton is a major part of that success. The team’s top defenceman is healthy and on pace to top previous bests across the board. His 38 points so far this season has him sitting seventh among his blue line peers.  

Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks: Not much is going well in Vancouver these days, but the performances of the team’s three biggest stars in Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, and Hughes are the exception. Hughes leads all rearguards not named Erik Karlsson and Josh Morrissey in assists, with 36, and his 40 points on the season so far is good for sixth among defencemen. Plus, with younger brother Jack already All-Star bound, it’d be fun to see what the two Hughes can do against one another in a game of All-Star shinny.  

[brightcove videoID=6318885372112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Jake Oettinger, G, Dallas Stars: Oettinger’s third season is shaping up to be his best yet. Through 33 starts so far this season he’s got 20 wins — tied for fourth most in the league with All-Stars Andrei Vasilevskiy and Igor Shesterkin — to go with his 2.26 goals against average (second best league-wide) and .924 save percentage (third). He’s also put up the second most shutouts this season (3).  

Vitek Vanecek, G, New Jersey Devils: Is he the biggest name in the league? No. But as the starter behind one of the hottest teams in the league this year his play has been on par with the game’s biggest stars in net. His 2.37 goals against average is good for fourth in the league while his five regulation losses in 26 starts would, in any other year at this point, probably be the best mark in the league if not for the otherworldly play of Boston’s All-Star netminder Linus Ullmark.  

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.