The NHL announced the winners of the fan voting for the All-Star Game captaincies Tuesday, and Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, P.K. Subban and Carey Price will be heading to Los Angeles to represent their respective clubs and captain their division.
The vote, which took place over the course of the past month, allowed fans to cast a ballot for several NHL-selected players or any number of potential write-in candidates to represent their respective divisions, and when voting closed on Monday, it was Crosby who sat atop the Metropolitan Division vote, McDavid who was tops among all Pacific Division players, Subban who earned the most votes of any Central Division player and Price who led the Atlantic Division in voting.
With the captains selected, though, the question now becomes who fills out the roster. Each team will need an additional 10 players for a total of 11 — six forwards, three defensemen, two goaltenders — with representation from each of the league’s 30 teams. Keeping that in mind, here is an early projection as to what the rosters could look like at the 2017 All-Star Game:
Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (C); Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers; John Tavares, New York Islanders; Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals; Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes.
Defense: Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers; Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets; Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils.
Goaltenders: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets; Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals.
Potential snubs: Cam Atkinson has had an incredible season thus far for the Blue Jackets and he’s certainly deserving of the all-star nod, but the limits on the roster make it tough to find a place to fit him in. Barring injury, it’s unlikely the NHL runs an All-Star Game without Alex Ovechkin, and needing to include a player from each club makes Atkinson the unfortunate odd-man out.
Also left out though deserving of an appearance is Penguins rearguard Justin Schultz. He’s third in scoring among Metropolitan defensemen, but the need for a Devil to participate puts Damon Severson into the game.
Forwards: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning; Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs; Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins; Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings; Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers; Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres.
Defense: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators; Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens.
Goaltenders: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (C); Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins.
Potential snubs: The Atlantic is a tough one. The Canadiens could realistically send Max Pacioretty to the game, but it’s hard to pass up having Shea Weber present at the game to wow the crowd in the hardest shot competition. Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen probably deserves to go, as does winger Kyle Okposo, but will the NHL pass up the chance to have a potential McDavid vs. Eichel showdown in the final?
There’s also a case to be made for the Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner, Canadiens’ Alexander Radulov and Senators’ Mark Stone to be at the game, but all three will likely end up being secondary to the players listed above.
Forwards: Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues; Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks; Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets; Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets; Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche.
Defense: P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators (C); Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild; Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues.
Goaltenders: Devan Dubynk, Minnesota Wild; Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks.
Potential snubs: Much of the Central is subject to change if P.K. Subban, currently sidelined with an upper-body injury, isn’t fit enough to participate in the game. If he isn’t able to go, Roman Josi could very well end up taking his spot on the back end or Ryan Johansen could replace a forward. Both are worthy participants.
The toughest players to leave out will be Chicago’s Artemi Panarin and Dallas’ Jamie Benn. It could be argued that Panarin should take the place of Patrik Laine, but with 2016 first-overall pick Auston Matthews likely at the game, why not send second-overall selection Laine for a ready-made storyline? He’s earned it with his goal scoring ability, too.
Forwards: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (C); Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks; Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks; Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings; Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks; Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames.
Defense: Brent Burns; San Jose Sharks; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes.
Goaltenders: Peter Budaj, Los Angeles Kings; Cam Talbot, Edmonton Oilers.
Potential snubs: Martin Jones has been great for the Sharks, so leaving him out of the lineup stings, but Cam Talbot and Peter Budaj get the nods. Budaj especially deserves the chance to head to the All-Star Game, because he has been arguably the best netminder in the division this season.
It’s also odd to see an All-Star Game lineup without Anze Kopitar, especially in Los Angeles, but he ranks 35th among scorers in the division. It’s also hard to imagine the event without Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf representing the Ducks, but Kesler has been the best forward in Anaheim this season.
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