OK, there may not always be a tonne of effort on display at the All-Star Game, but it still takes a tonne of work to get there.
With the NHL on a four-day pause for the All-Star weekend in South Florida, we’re keeping it simple on this week’s power rankings and taking a look at the performance of each squad’s All-Stars this season. (Well, with one exception; sorry, Seattle!)
These are the best players at what they do, so before they put on a show for us in Sunrise, let’s celebrate what they’ve already accomplished in games with actual hitting and defence.
1. Boston Bruins (39-7-1) Linus Ullmark is the leader in just about every goalie category you can name, while David Pastrnak is neck-and-neck with every point-getter in the league not named Connor McDavid.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (34-9-8) Andrei Svechnikov is one of 15 first-time All-Stars headed to Florida. The second-overall pick from 2018 has two hat tricks this season, both against the Oilers.
3. New Jersey Devils (32-13-4) Since Dec. 30, Jack Hughes is tied for the most points in the league, with 25 in 14 games. He’s set to be an ASG staple for the next decade-plus.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs (31-13-8) Mitch Marner will be the Leafs’ sole representative because Auston Matthews is out with an injury. Marner set a new franchise mark this season with a 23-game point streak.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (32-15-1) McDavid is your goals and points leader at the break, but Nikita Kucherov is first in helpers, with 53. Did his extended time on the sidelines the previous two seasons cause you to forget how flippin’ good the 2019 every-trophy-we-have winner is?
6. Dallas Stars (28-13-10) Jason Robertson broke out with 41 goals last season; he’s eight away from equaling that number with 31 games to play this season.
7. New York Rangers (27-14-8) Artemi Panarin and Igor Shesterkin are both first-time All-Stars, despite the fact both Russians had better seasons last season than what they’re tracking this year. Adam Fox, however, has nudged his production up even higher this year, with 48 points in 49 games.
8. Colorado Avalanche (27-18-3) Nathan MacKinnon is first in assists-per-60, with 1.57; Mikko Rantanen is tied for the league lead in even-strength goals, with 27, and Cale Makar is the spiritual successor to Bobby Orr.
9. Seattle Kraken (29-15-5) Alas, in this step-forward season, Seattle won’t be represented at the All-Star Game because Matty Beniers was named to the Pacific Division squad before getting injured. He’s being replaced by Vegas’s Chandler Stephenson, not teammate Jared McCann, whose 2.19 goals-per-60 is an NHL-best among players with 25 games this season.
10. Winnipeg Jets (32-19-1) Josh Morrissey, at 27, has already passed his previous career best by 16 points. He’s almost certain to be a Norris finalist, and fellow All-Star Connor Hellebuyck stands a great chance of being a top-three Vezina vote-getter for the third time in his career.
11. Edmonton Oilers (28-18-4) McDavid stands a legit chance of becoming the sixth player in NHL history to register a 150-point season. Leon Draisaitl, meanwhile, paces the league with 17 power-play goals. And how about rookie tender Stuart Skinner, who sort of saved the Oilers’ skin when Jack Campbell was struggling?
12. Minnesota Wild (27-17-4) Left winger Kirill Kaprizov is on track to hit 100 points for the second consecutive season and, while he does have running mate Mats Zuccarello on the right flank, the centre he’s played most with this year is Sam Steel. It’s pretty remarkable what Kaprizov has done in two-plus years on a team that’s got a clear hole down the middle.
13. Pittsburgh Penguins (24-16-9) Genuinely shocking fact you’ve potentially already been made aware of: Thanks to injuries, lockouts and pandemics, this will be just the fifth All-Star appearance for Sidney Crosby since entering the league in 2005.
14. Los Angeles Kings (28-18-7) First year in L.A., first All-Star appearance for Kevin Fiala. His 53 points put him 10 clear of the next-closest King, Anze Kopitar.
15. Vegas Golden Knights (29-18-4) Stephenson may be an injury replacement for Matty Beniers, but his work speaks for itself. The winger acquired for a fifth-rounder three years ago from Washington could touch 70 points this season. Lefty Logan Thompson has done everything Vegas could have asked of him as a rookie stopper.
16. Calgary Flames (24-17-9) The story in Calgary this season has been more about what’s not quite working rather than what’s running smoothly. That said, the guy who signed a $49-million deal in the off-season is pulling his weight. Nazem Kadri was likely never going to match the 87 points he recorded last season in Colorado, but Kadri is actually on pace to score 31 goals this season, three more than he netted in his big career year with the Avs.
17. Nashville Predators (24-18-6) Juuse Saros started a little slow out of the gate, but since Nov. 12, he’s got the third-best save percentage in the league, at .928.
18. Buffalo Sabres (26-20-4) Tage Thompson, your points-per-60 leader with 3.39 this season, is out with injury and is being replaced by Rasmus Dahlin, who leads NHL blueliners with 24 power-play points and is second in goals (14) and points (55).
19. Washington Capitals (27-20-6) This will be Alex Ovechkin’s eighth All-Star Game, more than anybody else headed to Florida.
20. Florida Panthers (24-22-6) Whatever issues the Cats have had, don’t blame them on Matthew Tkachuk. The big winger is tracking a second-straight 100-point campaign in Year 1 with the club. The captain of the host team, Aleksander Barkov, is headed to the ASG as Matthews’ replacement.
21. New York Islanders (25-22-5) The Islanders are in contention for a playoff spot despite the fact they average more goals per game than just seven teams in the NHL. Stands to reason their representatives are leading scorer Brock Nelson and goalie Ilya Sorokin. Their best centre, freshly acquired Bo Horvat, will be representing the Pacific Division that houses his former team, the Vancouver Canucks.
22. Ottawa Senators (24-23-3) Brady Tkachuk figures to blast past his previous highs in every offensive counting category as he chugs toward an 80-point showing.
23. Detroit Red Wings (21-19-8) This is the third time pending-UFA Dylan Larkin will represent Detroit at the ASG; the real question is, will it be the last?
24. Philadelphia Flyers (21-21-9) Kevin Hayes likely isn’t the first guy to be a healthy scratch in the same year he’s played in an All-Star Game, but I definitely can’t think of another right off the top of my head.
25. Montreal Canadiens (20-27-4) Nick Suzuki hit a bit of a wall after a very hot start, but he’s still a good bet to hit a career high in goals and points in Year 4.
26. St. Louis Blues (23-25-3) Real talk: Isn’t Jordan Kyrou a much more obvious choice to represent the Blues than Vladimir Tarasenko?
27. Vancouver Canucks (20-26-3) It’s been a year from hell in Vancouver, but Elias Pettersson stands a very good chance of putting up a 100-point season. His previous best is 68. Funny that skating at the ASG will serve as a bridge to playing for the Islanders for Horvat.
28. Chicago Blackhawks (15-29-4) We spend so much time speculating about the futures of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but will Seth Jones — Chicago’s lone ASG representative — be on this team when it turns a corner?
29. Anaheim Ducks (16-29-5) Troy Terry isn’t scoring at the same rate he did last season, but his assists are way up; he finished last season with 30 and he’s got 29 already this season.
30. San Jose Sharks (15-25-11) In a year when McDavid could net 150 points, your leader in even-strength points at the break is defenceman Erik Karlsson, with 49. Unbelievable.
31. Arizona Coyotes (16-28-6) It’s just great to see Clayton Keller playing at a high level after his breakout last season ended prematurely with a fractured leg.
32. Columbus Blue Jackets (15-32-4) How much money could you have won at this time last year wagering Johnny Gaudreau would be at his seventh All-Star Game while representing the Columbus Blue Jackets?