Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the NHL announced the official All-Star rosters for its three-on-three format to be played at Staples Center in Hollywood on Jan. 28-29. It will be the second annual three-on-three winner take all tournament featuring All-Stars from each division. Each team features a captain voted in by the fans along with 10 skaters who represent the division. So, that’s 11 skaters per roster and 44 total.
In the Metro Division, Pens’ superstar Sidney Crosby will captain the team. The league’s leading goalscorer whose 26 are four ahead of Jeff Carter and five up on rookie All-Stars Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews, is third in scoring with 44 points despite only playing 33 games.
The Devils, Islanders and Rangers will each have one representative on a Metro team featuring Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds, Justin Faulk, Seth Jones, Sergei Bobrovsky and Braden Holtby. Joining them in Los Angeles is Devils forward Taylor Hall, Islanders center John Tavares and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
With a 11-man roster featuring some of the game’s premier superstars including Crosby, Ovechkin and Malkin, the Metro Division is loaded. Both Hall and Tavares are superb skaters who can be dangerous in transition while Simmonds is the net front presence who can make opponents miserable. In a deep division, the NHL went with three D featuring Canes’ rover Faulk, the Jackets’ Jones and Rangers’ McDonagh.
For McDonagh, he’ll appear in his second consecutive All-Star Game. He becomes the first Rangers defenseman to appear in back-to-back All-Star Games since Brian Leetch (’01-03). The captain is also the first to make consecutive appearances from the Blueshirts since Mark Messier (’92-97).
McDonagh’s 25 points pace all Ranger defensemen. His 23 assists lead the team. His 15 even strength helpers are third among NHL defensemen. His 13 primary helpers are tied for fourth among D.
In his first season with the Devils, Hall is tied for the team lead in scoring with 25 points (9-16-25). His nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points have come in 32 contests. Seven of Hall’s nine markers have come at home. He’s tied for the team lead with P.A. Parenteau in power play goals (4). His 105 shots pace the Devils.
Acquired from the Oilers last summer in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson, the 25-year old Hall has been as advertised. An exciting offensive player with tremendous wheels and hands, it’s a matter of staying healthy. If the former first overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft can, he should have a big second half.
For Tavares, the Islanders’ captain will make his fourth All-Star appearance. On a day off in preparation for a home game against the Panthers Wednesday, he sported his very own Starting Lineup sports figurine in the locker room. It’s been a challenging year for Tavares. The 26-year old hasn’t finished as much as he’d like on a lower scoring team that’s near the bottom of the division. However, he still paces the Islanders with 27 points (11-16-27). His four power play goals and 114 shots lead the club.
Tavares has scored nine of his 11 goals at home which also paces the Islanders. His 16 assists are the most on the team. A special player, he needs two points to reach 500 for his career. In 548 career games, he’s totaled 218 goals and 280 assists for 498 points.
Former Tavares’ teammate Kyle Okposo will be the lone Sabres representative on the Atlantic roster. Ironically, the former linemate has the same amount of points (27) with his new team in Buffalo. He is 12-15-27. The rest of the Atlantic features captain Carey Price along with Tuukka Rask followed by Matthews, Brad Marchand, Nikita Kucherov, Vincent Trocheck and ex-Islander Frans Nielsen up front. The three defensemen are Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson and Shea Weber.
The West is represented by the Central Division captained by former Canadien P.K. Subban. With an injury keeping him sidelined, it doesn’t look like he’ll participate. If he’s replaced, perhaps by the Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk, whose 26 points (10-16-26) are hard to overlook. Laine was selected. The rookie leader in points (37), power play goals (7), is tied with Matthews for game-winning goals (4) among freshmen. Whether he plays depends on concussion protocol. He’s still recovering from a big open ice hit from Buffalo’s Jake McCabe. Here’s what the Central 11-man roster would look like if healthy:
F Patrick Kane
F Jonathan Toews
F Patrick Laine
F Nathan MacKinnon
F Tyler Seguin
F Vladimir Tarasenko
D P.K. Subban*
D Duncan Keith
D Ryan Suter
G Corey Crawford
G Devan Dubnyk
The Pacific roster features captain Oilers’ phenom Connor McDavid. His 48 points (14-34-48) lead the league in scoring. That includes an NHL-leading 34 helpers. McDavid headlines a talented team that includes Johnny Gaudreau and first time selection Bo Horvat. Remember him? Horvat went ninth overall to the Canucks after they parted with Cory Schneider to the Devils for that pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Horvat is quietly leading the Canucks in scoring with 13 goals, 29 points and a team-leading two shorthanded tallies. The only mystifying part was the NHL’s selection of Arizona goalie Mike Smith. Nothing against the veteran who’s been under siege. But how did he make it over Cam Talbot? I guess Oliver Ekman-Larsson wasn’t deemed good enough. Here is what the 11-man Pacific looks like:
F Connor McDavid*
F Jeff Carter
F Johnny Gaudreau
F Bo Horvat
F Ryan Kesler
F Joe Pavelski
D Brent Burns
D Drew Doughty
D Cam Fowler
G Martin Jones
G Mike Smith
Part of the problem with this format is they still have to have at least one player represented from each team. And with it down to divisions for the three-on-three tournament, there’s only so many players they can take.
So, what you get are a lot of deserving guys who won’t be part of it. Hell. I would’ve taken Nick “Norris” Holden over McDonagh. No Phil Kessel from the Pens. Justin Schultz could’ve made the cut but again, they only can choose three D. Among the biggest omissions are Cam Atkinson (20 goals) and rookie Zachary Werenski from the Blue Jackets. But Columbus already has Bobrovsky and Jones on the Metro roster.
How about no Artemi Panarin for the Central? They chose Toews over him. I love Toews and unlike the charts crowd, I don’t consider him ‘overrated.’ He is the leader of the Blackhawks and always steps it up. But over Panarin, who’s an electrifying player with 42 points? That’s insanity. No Jakub Voracek from the Flyers either. This is what happens when you can only pick six forwards and must represent every team. Neither Mark Scheifele nor Nikolaj Ehlers made it either. But figure Scheifele to replace Laine. That trio all have identical points (37) playing together. Too bad Winnipeg is so disrespected. Maybe if they were higher in the standings.
Anyway, that’s it for this All-Star post. The game will be fun. It might not be like last year with John Scott pulling off the unlikeliest All-Star Game MVP as captain basically riding off into the sunset. But it’ll be an exciting watch.