One of the greatest things about having a truncated NHL season is that we’re spared the waste of time known as the All-Star Game. And with the Olympics on the docket for next season, that will give us two straight years of the league’s annual snorefest/scorefest where nobody hits and nobody cares. (And perhaps best of all, nobody can pull out of the game this year.)
But that doesn’t mean we can’t reward some of the league’s best players for the work they’ve done to this point in the season. So, we present to you the teams for the NHL’s 2021 (non-existent) All-Star Game. As has been the case with the 3-on-3 tournament format, we’ve chosen a team from each division. There must be at least one player from each team in the division on the roster. This season we’ve gone with a roster of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies, with a maximum of two representatives per team.
Connor McDavid (Edmonton): There is no better or more exciting player in the world today.
Auston Matthews (Toronto): Poised to become the first true superstar in Leafs’ franchise history, Matthews could get 50 goals this season.
Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg): He recently had an 11-game point streak snapped in which he had eight goals and 18 points and he’s been a beast.
Drake Batherson (Ottawa): If he scores tonight, Batherson will break the Senators record for consecutive games with a goal with seven.
Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton): Following up his MVP season with another outstanding campaign, Draisaitl is producing almost as prolifically.
Mitch Marner (Toronto): That he’s not far behind Matthews in potential superstar status is a testament to his outstanding play at both ends of the ice.
Quinn Hughes (Vancouver): There are some issues with his defensive play, but Hughes continues to be a major offensive driver in Vancouver.
Jeff Petry (Montreal): He’s cooled off after starting the season looking like a Norris Trophy contender, but he still leads the Canadiens in points.
Mark Giordano (Calgary): Like the Flames, Giordano has been up and down this season, but he's done an admirable job leading a blueline corps that has been decimated.
Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg): He has yet to show his Vezina Trophy form, but he is in double digits in wins and faces a lot of shots.
Jacob Markstrom (Calgary): Probably the only Flames player who has played anywhere near up to expectation this season, Markstrom has been the least of Calgary’s problems.
Patrick Kane (Chicago): He’s putting together a Hart Trophy season and has his team almost singlehandedly in the playoff hunt.
Cam Atkinson (Columbus): It’s been a rough season for the Blue Jackets, but Atkinson is having a very nice bounce-back campaign.
Bobby Ryan (Detroit): He’s probably the best feel-good story for a team that is bereft of them this season.
Joe Pavelski (Dallas): You wonder exactly who would score the goals in Dallas this season if not for Pavelski. His 10 goals is more than double his next highest-scoring teammate.
Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida): He leads the Panthers in both goals and points and is one of the NHL supreme set-up men. But he can score too, especially with a shooting percentage of 23.5.
Sebastian Aho (Carolina): He’s not scoring goals anywhere near the rate he did last year, but Aho remains close to a point-per-game player.
Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay): The playoff MVP could very well have another Norris Trophy on his mantle after this season.
Aaron Ekblad (Florida): He already has more goals this season than he did all of last season and is another serious Norris contender.
Roman Josi (Nashville): Speaking of Norris Trophy winners, the defending winner from 2019-20 is rounding into form after struggling early.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay): The Lightning’s workhorse leads the leagues in wins and his save percentage (.938) is best in the league among goalies with 10 or more starts.
Kevin Lankinen (Chicago): Without a doubt the biggest surprise in the NHL this season, Lankinen is both a Calder and Vezina contender.
Mark Stone (Vegas): In his team’s 5-4 overtime win over Minnesota Monday night, Stone has an assist on every goal. He’s among the league’s best two-way players.
Ryan O’Reilly (St. Louis): With 10 penalty minutes already, O’Reilly won’t win the Lady Byng, but he’s right there for the Selke.
Kiril Kaprizov (Minnesota): The most dynamic player the Wild have had since Marian Gaborik, Kaprizov has not disappointed. Not one bit.
Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles): There have been a few pleasant surprises on the Kings this season, but Kopitar isn’t one of them. He’s always this good.
Logan Couture (San Jose): He’s a point-per-game player on one of the league’s bottom-10 teams and when the Sharks are in the position to need a big goal, Couture often gets it.
Max Comtois (Anaheim): There has not been a lot to cheer about in Anaheim this season, but the emergence of Comtois as an offensive force is one of them.
Cale Makar (Colorado): His shooting percentage is dismal this season and injuries have hit again, but he drives play and walks the line better than any defenseman in the league.
Drew Doughty (Los Angeles): Written off by many, Doughty is on pace to score 48 points in 56 games, which would represent his highest total in four years.
Jakob Chychrun (Arizona): Already in his fifth season – how did that happen? – Chychrun is a prime point producer whose on-ice defensive awareness has improved.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Vegas): Everybody’s favorite player has been a rock in Vegas this season and could win his first career Vezina.
Kaapo Kahkonen (Minnesota): Right there with Kaprizov among Wild rookies who have made a huge impact, Kahkonen is shining six years after he was drafted.
Nicklas Backstrom (Washington): Pop quiz. Who leads the Washington Capitals in goals this season? It’s Backstrom, who is enjoying a major renaissance.
Brad Marchand (Boston): You could go either way with this one and give it to David Pastrnak, but Marchand has once again been a catalyst for one of the league’s best teams.
James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia): He’s having himself a year, isn’t he? Leading the Flyers in goals and points, JVR is on pace to shatter his career high despite playing only 56 games.
Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh): He might have scored the goal of the season on opening night and his level of play in all zones remains high.
Artemi Panarin (NY Rangers): Despite missing five games (and counting) due to his leave of absence, Panarin is still easily the Rangers’ top scorer.
Viktor Olofsson (Buffalo): He has more goals than Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner have combined. So there’s that.
John Carlson (Washington): His defensive play has been a little spotty this season, but offensively Carlson has been his usual productive self.
Charlie McAvoy (Boston): He has emerged as the clear alpha male on a defense corps that was gutted by the exit of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara.
Kris Letang (Pittsburgh): He’s tailor-made for the 3-on-3 game and he has been on an offensive tear of late.
Semyon Varlamov (NY Islanders): He has the best save percentage among all No. 1 goalies in the division and has been a stalwart for the Islanders.
Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey): This is now three solid seasons of play from Blackwood, but it still feels like the best is yet to come.