2012 NHL All-Star Game: One All-Star Snub from Each NHL Team
With the rosters for the All-Star game announced, there is sure to be plenty of discussion as to which of these players are truly deserving, and which are just there based on their name and past performances. I wrote an article a week ago on why the fans should not be allowed to choose the teams anymore. In this article, I'm not going to look at who deserves to be there and who doesn't.
What I am going to look at is one player on every team who could have made it. The following guys are all having very good seasons. For whatever reason, they were just overlooked.
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne may be 41 years old, but he is continuing to show that he is an ageless wonder. After scoring 80 points last year, he has 41 points this year. He leads the team in assists with 27 and is second with a plus-four rating. He's also got six power play goals which is second best on the team.
Selanne is one of the more consistent players for the Ducks this year. According to Yahoo Sports, general manager Paul Murray called Selanne one of the only untouchables in trade talks. His stats alone make him worthy on All-Star appearance.
In comparison, the Ducks player that did get selected was Correy Perry who stats are
|18 Goals||17 assists||35 points||-11 rating||9 power play goals.|
Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron
Patrice Beregeron has had an All-Star caliber season. With 11 goals and 25 assists, he is second on his team in scoring with 36 points behind only Tyler Seguin. His player rating is plus-27, and he has shown himself to be a very disciplined player by taking only 14 penalty minutes so far this year.
Boston will still be well represented though as leading scorer Tyler Seguin made the cut. He will be joined by top defensemen Zdeno Chara and their No. 1 goaltender Tim Thomas.
Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek
The Buffalo Sabres are a talented team that just can't seem to find any rythm. One of the consistantly reliable player on this team is Thomas Vanek. After last years impressive 73 point campaign, Vanek is on pace to score 77 points this year. Talk about consistancy. So far, he has 19 which leads his team while eight of those of come on the power play which also leads the team.
Vanek is second in total assits with 21 and total points with 40. These credentials certanly make him an All-Star candidate.
The Buffalo Sabres will not be empty-handed as leading scorer Jason Pominville will be in an All-Star uniform, as will rookie Luke Adam.
Calgary Flames: Miikka Kiprusoff
Remember that this list is about comparing players on their own teams, not against the rest of the league. With that in mind, Kiprusoff has probably been the best Flames player this year. While his record of 20-14-2 isin't great, he does have a 2.42 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.
This means he his keeping his team in the game for the most part. This is also evident in the fact that his main defensemen all have minus ratings. Kiprusoff has kept Calgary's hopes alive in the playoff race as they are only three points out of ninth. For these reasons, he is one of the very few guys on this Flames team that is worthy of an All-Star apperance.
The one guy who really deserves to be there will be there in captain Jarome Iginla.
Carolina Hurricanes: Tuomo Ruutu
Few guys on this Carolina Hurricanes team are having what you could call a good season, let alone an All-Star season. Tuomo Ruutu is one of those guys that has been able to keep opposing teams off-guard throughout much of the year. He leads the team with 15 goals and is second with total points scored with 26. He is also one of only five players on the team with a plus rating, albeit only plus-two.
I picked Ruutu over Captain Eric Staal because of Staal's horrendus minus-21 rating. A captain, of all players, has to be better than that. Sure, he's got the most points, but it takes more than that to be a true leader for your team. This year, Staal is not showing the leadership he is known for and he's on pace for his lowest career totals since his rookie year.
Ruutu is on pace to set a new career high in goals scored with 27.
Carolina will have one player representing them at the game with rookie Justin Falk being selected to play.
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp
The Chicago Blackhawks are having another good year thanks in part to Patrick Sharp. Shap is second on the team with 20 goals and a plus-18 rating, while he his third in total points with 40. He is also tied for the team lead in game-winning goals with five. He is also on pace to set career highs in all those categories including assists. Sharp is clearly an All-Star.
I'm surprised he won't be joining his fellow Blackhawks at the game.
Those fellow Blackhawks are Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who are all very worthy.
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan O'Reilly
This kid has already set career highs in points and assists with 32 and 20, respectively, while leading the Avalanche in those categories. He is two goals away from another career high while tied for the team lead in that category as well with 12. O'Reilly is a phenomenal skater with a no-quit attitude.
While none of the players on the Avalanche team made the game, it is a real shame he won't be there. O'Reilly will be one of the key pieces that bring the Avalanche back to the glory days of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy.
Colorado rookie Gariel Landeskog made it to the game.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Vinny Prospal
While the Blue Jackets are struggling once again, Vinny Prospal is showing he can still get the job done at 37 years old. He leads the team in overall points and assists with 30 and 21, respectively. He won't get anywhere near his career highs of 29 goals, 55 asssits and 80 points, but for a guy that needs to provide veteran leadership, he is doing just fine. That minus-11 rating could look a little better, but on the Blue Jackets team, he won't get much help.
Columbus' rookie Ryan Johansen will be at the game as he made it as part of the rookie class.
Dallas Stars: Loui Eriksson
How about the season Loui Eriksson is having for the Dallas Stars?
He is second on the team in the three categories of goals (16), assists (24) and points (40), while he leads the team with a plus-12 rating and four power play goals. He is one of the reasons Dallas is sticking around the playoff race. Although they have dropped off tremendously since the start of the year, he is helping them to catch their second wind.
The assists and points leader on the Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn, will be at the All-Star game.
Detroit Red Wings: Ian White
While certainly the most deserving Red Wings made it to the game, Ian White made a strong case for himself this year. He leads the team with a plus-23 rating, and he is a defenseman. He leads the Red Wings defense with 16 assists and is the seventh highest scoring player overall on the team with 21, just two points behind fellow defender Niklas Lidstrom.
He is on pace to set a career high in points with 42. Sure, other guys may have more goals, but Detroit's goal differential is plus-37, while goaltender Jimmy Howard has a stingy 2.04 goals against average. Ian White is a big part of that.
Detroit fans will get to see Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard suit up for the All-Star Game.
Edmonton Oilers: Taylor Hall
This was a real toss-up. The obvious choice would be to select Jordan Eberle, but as he is injured he won't be able to play. Then, there was the option of Ryan Smyth or Taylor Hall. While Smyth is having a very good season at 35 years old, Taylor Hall is having just as good a season, with almost 10 games less played. Smyth is on pace to score 66 points this year while Hall is on pace to finish with 64.
Hall has many years ahead of him in which he will be an All-Star while Smyth may only be around for a few more years. However, I think just based on his overall play when he has been healthy, Hall has been just a little bit better than Smyth. That's why I would choose him. He's got 14 goals 16 assits and 30 points in just 34 games played.
Also, he's got eight of those goals on the power play which makes him dangerous with the man advantage.
Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, who is second on the team in overall scoring, will be a part of the rookie class.
Florida Panthers: Kris Versteeg
I'm very surprised Versteeg didn't make the team. He is having his best year ever and is on pace to set career highs in all categories. He leads his team goals (17) and points (39) while tied for second in assists (22) and is a plus-11, also good for second on the team. Versteeg is starting to become the player that the Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers hoped he would be.
He has found a great place to play in and is one of the big reasons for the Panthers' hot start and continued success this season.
The Panthers will be represented by defenseman Brian Campbell.
Los Angeles Kings: Anze Kopitar
Another guy who I'm surprised did not make the list, Anze Kopitar is having another very good year. He is tied for the team lead in goals with 17, while leading the team with 27 assists and 40 total points. Kopitar is returning after breaking his ankle last season, and he really hasn't missed a step (no pun intended).
His discipline is extraordinary as well, as he only has accumulated six total penalty minutes. He has helped keep the Los Angeles Kings in the thick of the playoff race up to this point this season, but with all the talent on this team, it's a wonder the Kings are that far down in the standings, although still inside the playoff race.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick will be the only King to see some action at this year's All-Star Game.
Minnesota Kings: Danny Heatley
As much as it pains me to write this, Danny Heatley's stats are on par with most of the other players on this list. Therefore, he could be worthy of donning an All-Star jersey. He leads the team in goals scored with 13 and is second in assists (17) and points (33).
Heatley always starts out hot with his new team just like in Ottawa and San Jose, but then flames out. However, based on this year alone and staying within the context of this article, Heatley could be an All-Star candidate. He has been one of the reasons why Minnesota is alive in the playoff hunt this year for the first time in over three years.
The one Wild player present at the All-Star Game will be Captain Mikko Koivu.
Montreal Canadiens: Michael Cammalleri
Yup, Michael Cammalleri. I know he just got traded, but at least he was willing to speak out and try to light a fire under his teammates. Looking at the stats and the roster, none of these guys really deserve it. Erik Cole leads the team in points (30) and goals (17) but Cammalleri seemed to really care about this team and sometimes words speak louder than stats.
The Canadiens will have goaltender Carey Price in net at the All-Star Game.
Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne
Pekka Rinne has been one of the better, yet non-talked-about goaltenders in the NHL for the last couple of years. He already has 22 wins this year. While he could do better than a goals against average of 2.55 and a save percentage of .914, I think Rinne will get better as the season progresses and the Predators reach another playoff birth.
Rinne has the Predators in that position, and the fact that Carey Price got picked over him in the actual game makes no sense, but again this article is about one guy from every team. Therefore (with the exception of the three Predators who did make it) Rinne is playing at an All-Star level and would definitely be worthy of putting on a All-Star jersey.
The three Predators that are going are defensmen Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and rookie Craig Smith.
New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias
Like Ryan Smyth of the Oilers, Patrick Elias is not slowing down just yet at age 35. He has put up 40 points for a team high with 15 goals (second on the team) and 25 assists (first on the team). He also leads the team with six power play goals.
While the Devils were not a very good team last year, it seems Elias is starting to gel with Ilya Kovalchuck, Zach Parise and others. They are starting to make the Devils a team to fear. For the first time in years, it seems that the problem with the Devils is at their back end and not their scoring. Elias is a big reason for the latter.
Two rookies will be at the All-Star Game for the Devils in Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson.
New York Islanders: Matt Moulson
Moulson is having a terrific year and if he played on any other team he would probably get a lot more attention. Unfortunately for him, he plays on the New York Islanders. If it's any consolation, he makes this list! Moulson leads the Islanders with 20 goals, a player rating of plus-six and seven power play goals.
He is fifth on the team with 17 assists, but is second with 37 total points. The Islanders are still a young team and will slowly get better with players like Moulson.
John Tavares will represent the Islanders at the All-Star Game.
New York Rangers: Michael Del Zotto
How is this guy not in the All-Star Game? Del Zotto is easily one of the best young defensive players in the game, let alone on the New York Rangers. Although he only has five goals, he leads the team with 18 assists and a player rating of plus-24. He also leads Rangers defensemen with 23 total points.
Del Zotto is only 21 years old, and he will only get better as time goes on. He has a great team full of veteran leaders to show him. Although I am surprised Brad Richards didn't make the team, I think Del Zotto at his age, and his position defines what an All-Star is supposed to be.
The New York Rangers will send forward Marian Gaborik, defenseman Dan Girardi and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the All-Star Game.
Ottawa Senators: Craig Anderson
I'm not going to spend to much time on the Senators as it seems they are sending just about everyone to the All-Star Game. But Craig Anderson is having a decent season with a 22-12-4 record. His goals against average is at 2.99, and he has a .906 save percentage. Hardly amazing All-Star stats, but like I said it seems like the rest of the team is already going.
The Sens will have plenty of hometown representation at the game with Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek and rookie Colin Greening all attending.
Philadelphia Flyers: Scott Hartnell
Scott Hartnell has stepped up in both the absence of Claude Giroux (who has since returned) and Jaromir Jagr. He leads the team with 19 goals and is second with 38 points. He also has a team best plus-18 rating. The Flyers dumped Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in the offseason, and Hartnell is making Flyers fans not even care about the loss of those two.
Claude Giroux, despite missing some time will be at the All-Star Game, along with defensemen Kimmo Timonen and rookies Sean Couturier and Matt Read.
Phoenix Coyotes: Radim Vrbata
The Phoenix Coyotes, who surprised people last season, are making another strong push for the playoffs. Radim Vrbata is one of those players keeping them going. He leads the team in goals (22) and total points (37) and a player rating of plus-11. He is also third on the team with 15 assists and has a team high five game winning goals.
Vrbata is like a few of the players on this list, a bit underrated because of where he plays.
The Coyotes only representation at the game will be defenseman Keith Yandle.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury has put together an All-Star caliber season. His record of 21-12-2 is impressive, considering how many times the stars in front of him have been injured this season. He has two shutouts, along with a 2.27 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
I'm surprised he didn't get the nod over Carey Price, but I guess there's a rule stating only one French-Canadian goalie can play in an All-Star Game at a time.
Evgeni Malkin appears healthy enough to make an appearance at the All-Star game for the Penguins.
San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau
For the San Jose Sharks, I give Patrick Marleau the nod over Joe Thornton, although it is a very slight nod. Marleau and Thornton both have 36 points to lead the Sharks. But Marleau's 17 goals and five game-winning goals give him an edge. It doesn't mean anything in the long term if how many of your golas end up being the game winner, as long as your consistantly putting pucks in the net.
But there's also the argument that the more times you score the game-winner, the better you are at answering for your team when they need it most, an All-Star trait.
Logan Coture get's the call to the All-Star Game for the Sharks.
St. Louis Blues: Alexander Steen
Sure Steen isn't the first name you think of when you hear All-Star, but Steen has really done his job well for this St. Louis Blues squad. He was on pace to set career highs in goals, assists and points, but has missed a bit of time due to injury. He has played in 34 games this year and has compiled a stat line of 13 goals 11 assists 24 points and a plus-20 player rating, which leads the team. Also, he has managed three game-winning goals.
Brian Elliot, the St. Louis goaltender will be at the All-Star Game.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Marc-Andre Bergeron
Bergeron is one of the few bright spots for the Tampa Bay Lightning this year. As a defensemen he has been able to hold a positive player rating so far this season at plus-eight, which leads the team. He also leads the Lighning defense with four goals, 20 assits and 24 total points. While the Lightning have many All-Star caliber players, some are not living up to that billing this year, but Bergeron is.
Steven Stamkos will represent the Lightning at the All-Star game.
Toronto Maple Leafs: John-Michael Liles
With the top-three point men on the Leafs already being named to the team it was a bit of a tough choice to who would be the next deserving Toronto Maple Leaf. But anyone who watches the Leafs on a regular basis would know that John-Michael Liles is a deserving candidate.
For someone who doesn't appear to contribute much in the box score, he does a lot when it comes to keeping the puck away from his net. He blocks shooting lanes, which, unfortunately, is one of the reasons why he has now missed almost 10 games. Still, in only the 34 games he has played, Liles has put up a line of four goals, 17 assists and 21 points with a player rating of plus-two.
Again, what stands out is his defensive work and the fact that he plays a very disciplined defensive game with only 12 penalty minutes accumulated this season.
The three aforementioned Maple Leafs are Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf.
Vancouver Canucks: Alexander Burrows
Similar to the Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks' most deserving players are on the All-Star Game roster. However, Burrows deserves some recognition for the season he is having. His second on the team with 18 goals. His plus-20 rating is very impressive and he contributes to the power play as well.
Although he may not have as many assists as Kevin Bieksa, or as many points as Ryan Kessler, Burrows provides solid all around play. That's why he gets the nod.
Both Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, will be joined at the All-Star Game with defensemen Alex Edler while Cody Hodgson makes the rookie squad.
Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom
While Alexander Ovechkin will make it to every All-Star Game from here on out (because of who he is, not how his season is going), it is Backstrom who deserves to represent the Washington Capitals. I am a big Ovechkin fan, and am surprised at his play so far this year. With that said, Backstrom has been the one carrying the Captials this year. He leads the team with 42 points, broken down into 13 goals (second behind Ovechkin) and 29 assists (leads the team). Although Washington struggled out of the gate, they have been able to pull into a horse race for the division lead with Florida, largely due to Backstrom.
Ovechkin, as mentioned, is going to the game, along with defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Winnipeg Jets: Evander Kane
EvanderKane is one of the most exciting young players to watch in the NHL. He is leading this Winnipeg Jets franchise in the dawn of a new era. Kane at the end of his career has the chance to be what Teemu Selanne was to this franchise before they were shipped away. Kane has put together 18 goals and 31 points with a plus-five player rating.
The Jets' biggest problem is probably their back end, but with players like Evander Kane, the Jets franchise is looking bright.
Dustin Byfuglien will be going to the All-Star Game as a defensemen, the first Jets player at an All-Star Game since Teemu Selanne in 1996.