NHL All-Star Game: The stars, the surprises and the snubbed
On Wednesday the NHL announced the roster for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game (ASG) in Tampa Bay, FL.
Most of the players that made the cut were obvious choices: Connor McDavid, Anze Kopitar, Nikita Kucherov, etc.
However, a good amount of players that made the team don’t quite fit the bill. There were a lot of quality players that didn’t make the cut in favor of less qualified players.
There are two different categories for the stars in the ASG.
You have the obvious, always have and will be all-stars such as Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, McDavid and more.
There are the stand alone stars who’s teams are seeing mediocre seasons but they still stand out such as: Mike Green, Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Eichel.
Granted the Penguins, Oilers and Blackhawks are having less than stellar seasons so Crosby, McDavid and Kane could all be included in this group too, but lets face it; it’ll be a cold day in hell when these guys aren’t on this roster.
Here we have a category of players who either surprised me (in a good way) individually this year or they come from a surprisingly good hockey team (looking at you Vegas). In this group we see: James Neal, Marc Andre-Fleury and John Klingberg (are you kidding me, 33 assists as a D-man?).
Some additions in this group of surprises are: Josh Bailey, right winger for the New York Islanders, who is sporting impressive numbers this season in goals and assists for the floundering team. Bailey has a career plus/minus of -31 so this season is definitely a turn around for him.
Aleksander Barkov a center for the Florida Panthers is also somewhat of a rising star this season. With 14 goals, 21 assists and a +4 rating; Barkov has definitely surprised hockey fans (especially with his flashy shootout moves). (Youtube link from Puck Daily)
In addition to these positive surprises I also have a list of “how the hell did you make it on this roster”.
Starting us off. Carey Price. I get that they are picking a player from each team, but even the shockingly bad Canadiens have better to offer this season. After missing a handful of games due to injury, Price returned and has since been sporting a 2.89 GAA and a .911 S% over 29 games.
Our second victim in this category is Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This is by far the worst selection of the ASG. Sitting at 6 goals and 13 assists with an absolutely HORRENDOUS plus/minus of -34, Ekman-Larsson’s name doesn’t belong anywhere near the word all-star. Honestly, just give Shane Doan an alumni appearance in his place.
The final selection for the (bad) surprises is Rickard Rakell. He isn’t a bad player, he just isn’t the best the Anaheim Ducks or the Pacific has to offer. He has a respectable goal count with 15 but he only has 16 assists and a -6 rating.
Speaking of that surprise selection from the Ducks, where is Ryan Getzlaf on this roster? I get that he only has 4 goals this season, but with 20 assists, a +9 rating and his leadership qualities he seems like a better choice for the ASG.
Mark Giordano somehow slipped under the radar for this year’s ASG. Coming from one of the best defensive cores in the NHL it is amazing that no D-men from the Calgary Flames made this roster. Dougie Hamilton could’ve easily been taken in place of Ekman-Larsson as well.
Finally we have the omission of Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.
Marchessault leads the Golden Knights in points with 40 (16 goals and 24 assists) and Karlsson is right behind him with 36 (22 goals and 14 assists). James Neal made the roster in favor of these two which is shocking to me, especially if you look at the statistical breakdown of the Golden Knights’ forwards.
The Wrap Up
Overall, I am not impressed by this year’s ASG roster. Just bring back the fan vote (I want to see more John Scotts in the ASG) or the draft because that at least would make things more exciting and dramatic.
The 3-on-3 format is nice because it’ll keep things moving and showcase more speed so at least that will be interesting.
“From Our Haus to Yours”