Let’s put together the NHL All-Star Team, shall we?
I love the NHL and there are more glorious goals, assists, hits, saves and overall plays happening right now than we can consume. As a hockey fan, I cannot get enough of the NHL highlights.
Yet, when the season is winding down, people forget how many good things happened early in the season. I want people to remember. More than a quarter of the games have been played this season, so there has been more than enough of a sample size to showcase how the players are doing.
The All-Star format I will go with is first, second and third teams consisting of three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie. For a little bit of balance on defence, I will go with a left shot/right shot pairing. Since the All-Star Game is usually won with very little in the way of face-offs, blocked shots, bodychecking, etc. the way the roster will be determined is by using pure offensive statistics. Here we go…
First Team All-Stars
Centre – Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers)
Left Wing – Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers)
Right Wing – David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins)
Left Defence – Roman Josi (Nashville Predators)
Right Defence – John Carlson (Washington Capitals)
Goaltender – Darcy Kuemper (Arizona Coyotes)
Second Team All-Stars
Centre – Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche)
Left Wing – Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins)
Right Wing – Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Left Defence – Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Right Defence – Dougie Hamilton (Carolina Hurricanes)
Goaltender – Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins)
Third Team All-Stars
Centre – Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Left Wing – Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers)
Right Wing – Teuvo Teravainen (Carolina Hurricanes)
Left Defence – Keith Yandle (Florida Panthers)
Right Defence – Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche)
Goaltender – Thomas Greiss (New York Islanders)
WOW! A lot to discuss, no? Immediately, I want to go back and take David Pastrnak off the First Team All-Stars (FTAS) and place him on the STAS, so he can be paired with his fellow Boston Bruins teammate and left winger, Brad Marchand. Those two play together on one of the best first lines in hockey, along with Patrice Bergeron. Pastrnak has got to be an early favourite to win the Hart Memorial trophy, that is how good he has been. As for another trophy? The man has 20 goals in 23 games and is looking to steal Alexander Ovechkin’s thunder by looking like the next Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy winner. No easy task, but Pastrnak seems to make it look effortless.
Moving David Pastrnak off the FTAS almost seems like mercy, given what the Double Dragons of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have accomplished thus far. As of right now, the duo are leading the League in points with 45+ points apiece. Leon and Connor of the Edmonton Oilers are having a historic start to the season, putting them in some elite company as legendary duos of Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri, as well as Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.
Speaking of legendary status, have you been keeping tabs on John Carlson? The Washington Capitals are having a great season thus far and a large part of that is due to Carlson. Carlson is the backbone of a strong Washington Capitals power play that boasts the likes of Evgeny Kuznetsov, Niklas Backstrom and the aforementioned Ovechkin. How good do you have to be to be the backbone of that kind of a power play? The kind that scored the second most points by a defenseman in the month of October in history, only behind Al MacInnis. Paired with John Carlson on defence is Roman Josi. While Nashville is struggling in the standings, Josi is not. The captain of the Predators is leading his team in scoring with 7 goals and 22 points. Defence has been the strongest attributes of the Nashville Predators for the past few seasons and Josi has been leading the charge.
I will talk about the All-Star goaltenders all at once towards the end.
The STAS is nothing to sneeze at. Nathan MacKinnon is an amazing player. He plays on a powerhouse Colorado Avalanche team and he is second in League scoring amongst centres, without the help of Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskogg. Pretty remarkable. MacKinnon is flashy, with great speed and stickhandling skills. He looks dangerous on every rush.
Brad Marchand is doing the usual Brad Marchand things. He is racking up points and annoying the rest of the League. You have to give major credit to a player that seems to be getting better as he gets older. The man hit 85 points in 80 games in 2016-2017, following up with another 85 points in…68 games?!? Then followed that up with his first 100 points in 79 games in 2018-2019. Pretty impressive for someone taken in the third round of the draft.
Speaking of players getting better with age, almost overlooked is what Patrick Kane has been accomplishing. In the 2018-2019 season, at the age of 30, Patrick Kane had a career year with 110 points. in the 19/20 season, Kane is doing more of the same thing. Kane is 8th overall in League scoring with 30 points in 23 games, while playing largely with young players such as Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome.
You have to consider what a great season it has been so far when the most recent James Norris trophy winner is on the STAS. Victor Hedman is putting together another good season, but not as good offensively as his right defence partner in Dougie Hamilton. Dougie Hamilton is currently third in scoring for the Carolina Hurricanes. The twin towers of power in Hedman and Hamilton should give the opposition fits if the All-Star Game were to start right now.
Are you paying attention to the TTAS? You should be. I think a lot of people overlook Auston Matthews because he is on a powerhouse Toronto Maple Leafs team. Not so fast. Auston Matthews’ regular wingers this season has been William Nylander and Andreas Johnsson. Good players, both of them, but maybe it speaks volume that Matthews is third in points among the centremen in the NHL, playing with two linemates that have yet to break the 70 points barrier.
Is it possible to score 90+ points and no one notices? It is if your name is Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau is once again having a very quiet season where he is racking up major points. Maybe because he plays for the Florida Panthers and is overshadowed by a great two-way centre in Aleksander Barkov, but Huberdeau has been slowly building himself up as a premier winger.
On the topic of being overshadowed, it is time to talk about Teuvo Teravainen. Tervainen was second in scoring on the Carolina Hurricanes in the 18/19 season. If nothing else, he is consistent, as he is now second in scoring on the team again with 26 points.
The hidden gem of the TTAS is Cale Makar. This young man is something else. Makar, at 21 years of age, has the third most points in the NHL amongst defensemen (in a League that boasts the likes of Brent Burns, Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban, no less). Suffice to say, the strongest crop of defensemen this season has been right-shot ones. Which goes to show how good Keith Yandle has been, as he has the third most points amongst left-shooting defensemen. On top of that, he is currently on an iron man streak of 820 games. Not too shabby.
Choosing the best goaltender is a hard: That’s why, I decided to talk about the goaltenders last and I put together my own formula for choosing the goalies that I did. Who has the best combination of wins, goals against average and save percentages, based on games played, and how do those numbers look when compared to the team they play on? This is why Darcy Kuemper comes out on top. While Boston Bruins and New York Islanders are among the top three teams in the NHL right now, Arizona is seventh overall. The Coyotes do not have a single player that has breached 20 points. While the Islanders are not much better with only one, they do have the fantastic Mathew Barzal playing on the team and made the playoffs last year. Boston obviously has two players that are FTAS and STAS from my picks. The Coyotes, without diminishing any of their accomplishments, needs more saves than the other two teams to win. Darcy Kuemper gets the top vote in that regard. He has a sub 2.00 goals against average and a 934 save percentage, all the while having played more games than the other two goalies. Tuuka Rask gets the nod in net for the STAS because he is just the model of consistency. While Boston is a great team, no team gets far in the playoffs without a sturdy goaltender. Rask has been providing outstanding goaltending for the Bruins for a while now and this year is no different. The odd one is Thomas Greiss. Greiss was there last year when the Islanders went from the worst defensive team to the best. Now that Robin Lehner has gone to Chicago, the responsibility has fallen on Greiss to keep the stingy goals against going. Greiss is up to the task with a 2.07 goals against average and 934 save percentage and is the goaltender for the TTAS.
There you have it. As of 12:27 am on Monday, November 25, 2019, the three teams of NHL All-Stars.