In less than one month, many of the NHL's best and brightest – or at least those who've been standouts throughout the first half of this season – will convene in St. Louis for the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, and with the exhibition contest creeping up and divisional captains announced, the league has unveiled the list of players who will be appearing at the festivities.
There is, however, a catch. Much like last season, when the NHL introduced the Last Man In vote, fans will again have the ability to select the final participant on each divisional squad. It's not a free-for-all, mind you: the league has specified which players are available to be selected, and the curated list ensures that we won't see any John Scott-esque additions to any of the rosters.
But beyond the Last Man In selections – predictions have been made below – the rosters are almost entirely set. We say entirely, of course, because a couple potential participants have fallen injured. Goaltenders Darcy Kuemper and Joonas Korpisalo could both be considered doubtful to appear at this point. Jake Guentzel, who will be sidelined four-to-six months, will miss the event due to injury. All three will be found below, though denoted with asterisks. Also conspicuous by his absence below is Alex Ovechkin, who was voted Metropolitan Division captains by fans. He has excused himself from participation in favor of the additional break, accepting the one-game suspension that will come along with skipping the event.
With all of that in mind, though, here's a full breakdown of the All-Star Game rosters:
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins (C)
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
Anthony Duclair, Ottawa Senators
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Man In Candidates
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Max Domi, Montreal Canadiens
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Good: Round of applause for Anthony Duclair. Already castoff by a handful of franchises in his young career, he’s taken the opportunity he’s been given in Ottawa and absolutely run with it. He’s leading the Senators with 21 goals, sits atop team scoring with 31 points and it positively looks as though he’s actually figured it all out in Ottawa. It’s taken some time and it’s been a topsy-turvy ride at times, but he’s been rewarded for his effort.
The Bad: We get that each team needs representation, which limits space, but Brad Marchand is tied for third in NHL scoring yet doesn’t even get the nod on the Last Man In fan-vote ballot? Maybe there was a behind-the-scenes discussion about his attendance. Otherwise, his being left off the roster and the fan ballot makes not a lick of sense. That’s all we've got. Bad, bad, bad.
The Omission: How Thomas Chabot is not only overlooked as part of the defense group but also left off the Last Man In vote when the all-star team has two defensemen is beyond understanding. OK, sure, Pageau has had himself quite the performance and he’s piecing together the best season of his career, but Chabot has literally exhausted himself on the Ottawa blueline. It’s nothing to get outraged about – it’s the All-Star Game, after all, and the event is essentially meaningless – but Chabot deserves some recognition for the work he’s put in.
Last Man In: It should be Barkov. There’s really no debating that. If we’re talking all-star level production and all-star level play, he’s the one to pick. Chances are, though, that the fan vote is going to swing in the direction of one of two players: Domi or Marner. When it becomes a popularity contest and a Maple Leafs fan favorite and any Canadien is on the list, it’s usually a battle to see which fanbase can throw more weight behind their player.
Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers
Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins*
Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets*
Last Man In Candidates
Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets
Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils
Brock Nelson, New York Islanders
Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
The Good: It would have been pretty easy for those in charge of selecting the divisional squads to go ahead and throw the name-value Flyers such as Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek or even Sean Couturier onto the roster. Instead, Philadelphia will be represented by Konecny, who is having a breakout season and leads all Flyers in scoring with 34 points. He's developing into a legitimate top-six threat, and he's going to make some new fans by showcasing his skills in St. Louis.
The Bad: So, uh, Holtby is really going to be an all-star, huh? That is…something. We get it. He has a lot of wins. Shiny! But he’s also been mediocre in every other category. He has a .904 save percentage, tied for 33rd of the 49 goaltenders with at least 15 appearances, and his 2.95 goals-against average ranks 31st among the same group of netminders. The Penguins’ Tristan Jarry would have been a better inclusion as the second keeper. The New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov seemed like a shoo-in. Even Thomas Griess could have made a case. Alas, it’s Holtby. (He does make the roster more handsome, so there’s that.)
The Omission:Who didn’t want to see Andrei Svechnikov at the All-Star Game? Who? Find me that person. Svechnikov is not only the Hurricanes’ leading goal scorer and tied with Teuvo Teravainen for Carolina’s top point producer, but he’s pulled off the never-before-seen-in-the-NHL lacrosse move two times this season. If the all-star festivities are supposed to be about fun and creativity, the fun guy who is creative should be there. But he won’t. Not even as the Last Man In.
Last Man In: At some point, Zibanejad needs to complete his star turn, and a good first step for that would be entrance into the All-Star Game. Some may bristle at the suggestion and believe it only right for the top-ranked Capitals to send a third player to the game. Counterargument: while he’s missed 13 games, Zibanejad ranks 13th in the league in per-game production at 1.2 points per game. He is transforming into a legitimate top-line center and putting him centerstage in St. Louis is one way to showcase how far he’s come.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (C)
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Last Man In Candidates
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Matt Duchene, Nashville Predators
David Perron, St. Louis Blues
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
The Good: It’s hard to have a big gripe with a single one of these picks. Even the one questionable selection, the Blues’ O’Reilly, deserves to punch his ticket to the game as a member of the host team, the defending Selke Trophy winner and the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy recipient. All around, this was well done. Maybe the most well done of any divisional roster.
The Bad: If the roster itself isn’t all that bad, the Last Man In candidates are a big ol’ bowl of meh. Again, no big gripes, certainly none big enough to call any decision out-and-out bad, but Jonathan Toews’ presence is arguably the most underwhelming. He would likely admit that he hasn’t been all that great this season and he’s been to the game four times. Why not give the chance to an Alex DeBrincat or Dylan Strome, who are putting up similar numbers? Send some new blood.
The Omission: The Last Man In selections are a touch odd. When the roster features only two defensemen, one would maybe assume that the league will offer up several defensemen from which to choose to fill out the last spot. Instead, there are only two defenders on the list. And one of those defenders is not Ryan Ellis, who is currently a top-10 blueline producer and has two more points than Duchene at the time of this writing.
Last Man In: The heart says Cale Makar. The head says give it to David Perron. He’s never experienced the all-star weekend before and the Blues winger is turning in a remarkable campaign. In fact, it could be argued that despite St. Louis sending three representatives, Perron was actually snubbed by being left on the Last Man In list instead of getting the nod over teammate O’Reilly. Perron is leading the attack in St. Louis with 40 points, is one off the team goal-scoring lead and has six – count ‘em – game-winning goals. Get him to the game. Makar’s shot will come in due time.
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (C)
Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes*
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
(Note: Fleury has been replaced by the Vancouver Canucks' Jacob Markstrom.)
Last Man In Candidates
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights
The Good: Giving Kuemper the all-star roster spot in hopes that he’ll be healthy enough to participate is a great move. But the good comes with a dash of bad, because there exists the possibility that Kuemper won’t be healthy enough to head to the festivities. That’s a real shame for a netminder who deserves every accolade, major or minor, he receives for the work he’s done in the Coyotes’ crease. Here’s hoping he’s healthy enough to attend.
The Bad: Does anyone else find it bizarre that the NHL specifically outlined how each roster will feature six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders yet it’s impossible for the Pacific Division roster to meet those parameters even if the Last Man In is a blueliner? Again, it’s the All-Star Game, so it doesn’t really matter, but if the league wants to just strike positional requirements and send the nine best skaters from each division, go ahead and do that.
The Omission: Brock Boeser misses out on the chance to head to the All-Star Game based on roster space and roster space alone. In fact, he doesn’t even make the cut for the Last Man In selections because Hughes fills that spot for the Canucks. That’s a shame for Boeser, too, because he’s been one of the Pacific’s most prolific scorers. Only four other players within the division have more points than Boeser’s 38.
Last Man In: Not to stick with the Canucks theme here or anything, but Hughes should be headed to the game. Does he deserve it more than, say, Pacioretty? Maybe not. But the Pacific stands to otherwise ice an all-star roster that has only a single defender and the fact of the matter is that if the division was to have only one defenseman present, Hughes is more deserving of that spot for his play this season than Giordano. That said, if it ends up being anyone other than Hughes, it better be Pacioretty.
(Note: Players denoted with an asterisk are presently injured and could be replaced.)
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