NHL All-Star Game 2012: 1 Player from Each Team Who Must Be on the Ice
The 2012 NHL All-Star Game roster is set, but between now and the All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 29, plenty of players will opt out of the game. There are also a handful of players who deserve to be considered as replacements.
Each team has a player that absolutely needs to represent them in Ottawa. Whether it is a player who was already named to the team who should honor the selection, or a player who was unjustly left off the roster, the players on this list need to represent their teams.
Teemu Selanne just continues to get it done for the Anaheim Ducks. Even at 41 years old, Selanne is averaging a point per game this season, and yet he will not be heading to the mid-season classic. It's a shame.
Zdeno Chara will once again be heading to the All-Star Game, and why not? The mammoth of a defenseman is putting together another stellar campaign in Boston, and we all want to see what new benchmark he is going to set in the hardest shot competition.
Thomas Vanek was not selected as a member of the All-Star team, but his 41 points would suggest that he should have been. Vanek is having a bounce-back year, and Buffalo's offense runs through him.
On the year in which Jarome Iginla recorded his 500th goal, the All-Star selection committee had to put him on the squad.
If it weren't for an unfortunate head injury, Jeff Skinner would be representing the Carolina Hurricanes at the All-Star Game. He was one his way to a big-time season and was really starting to develop.
The NHL got it right with the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews will all be heading to the All-Star Game, and they all deserve it. The Blackhawks are playing well this season, and it will be fitting to have their captain representing them.
The Colorado Avalanche do not really have any players worthy of the All-Star Game, so the future of their franchise will represent them at the skills competition. That's the way it should be.
Rick Nash only has 31 points this season, but it won't feel right that the Blue Jackets will not have him representing them at the All-Star Game, especially considering some of the successes he has had in this game in the past.
Jamie Benn recently underwent an appendectomy, which will likely keep him out of the All-Star Game. Benn is having another outstanding year in Dallas, even without Brad Richards by his side. He was well deserving of an All-Star appearance.
Detroit Red Wings
Jimmy Howard deserves to appear in the All-Star Game more than any other Red Wing. Detroit is getting production from their usual suspects, but the play of Jimmy Howard has kept them playing at an elite level this season.
The first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been a major story for the Edmonton Oilers this season. The rookie center has entered the league with a bang. Unfortunately, injury will prevent him from representing the Oilers at the All-Star Game.
Kris Versteeg was the most notable omission from the All-Star Game. His 39 points aren't jaw-dropping, but Versteeg has stepped into a big-time leadership role up front for the Florida Panthers, who currently lead the Southeast Division.
Los Angeles Kings
Jon Quick is playing out of his mind right now, which is uncommon for a member of the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have been a huge disappointment this season, and lost in the shuffle has been Quick's phenomenal season. Quick is deserving of his All-Star selection.
Mikko Koivu was the obvious choice to represent the Minnesota Wild. In a year where the Wild have surprised a lot of people, Koivu is getting more and more recognition for what he brings to that franchise.
Carey Price will be the lone Canadien at the NHL All-Star Game, and he is the only one who deserves it. This has been a forgettable season in Montreal.
With his top two defensemen heading to the All-Star Game, Pekka Rinne is left on the outside looking in this year. Rinne's bank account would suggest that he is the franchise player of the Predators, however.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils will not have any players suiting up for the actual All-Star Game, but they are sending a pair of rookies to the skills challenge. Patrik Elias deserved to be considered for the game. He currently has 41 points and has the Devils playing competitive hockey.
New York Islanders
John Tavares isn't just the future of the Islanders anymore, he is the here and now. With 42 points so far this season, Tavares has been the lone bright spot on Long Island. Tavares is slowly becoming an elite player. He could use a bit more talent around him.
New York Rangers
Michael Del Zotto
After an up-and-down start to his NHL career, Michael Del Zotto is coming into his own for the New York Rangers. The Rangers are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference, and Del Zotto's 23 points and plus-22 rating have played a big role in that.
The host town of the 2012 NHL All-Star Game came up big for its favorite players, electing four Senators to the game via the fan balloting. Spezza is one of the most deserving Senators, and it will be fitting for him to get a shot to play in front of his home crowd.
On of the more intriguing signings of the summer was the agreement the Flyers reached with Jaromir Jagr. The former rival came over from the KHL and was expected to sign with the Penguins. However, he chose Philly, and the results have been lucrative for both the Flyers and Jagr. He would bring a ton of excitement and personality to the All-Star Game.
The Phoenix Coyotes will be represented by Keith Yandle at the All-Star Game, and quite frankly, nobody else on the team even deserved consideration. He was an obvious choice.
Just as the Penguins don't feel right without Sidney Crosby, the All-Star Game will have a different feel without the game's best player in the lineup.
San Jose Sharks
Joe Thornton is not having his usual monster season, but the Sharks' captain is plugging away with a solid 36 points, four better than Logan Couture, who was named to the All-Star Game. Jumbo Joe has been to his share of All-Star Games, and at this point in his career, he is probably more concerned with postseason success.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are where they are in the standings because of Brian Elliott. Make no mistake about it, the Blues goalie has been a total stud this season. He is playing with confidence that is radiating to the rest of this squad. How long they can keep it up is anyone's guess, but as long as Elliot continues to play like he has, there is no reason to believe they won't make the playoffs. It's fitting that he is the lone Blue in the game.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Given the sad state of hockey in Tampa Bay, the NHL could not justify sending anyone but Steven Stamkos to the All-Star Game. He is off to another outstanding start to the season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs fans voted in mass quantity and got Dion Phaneuf elected to the All-Star Game, but he would have been on the roster either way. Phaneuf is having a strong season, despite facing criticism all offseason for what many believe has been an underwhelming tenure in Toronto. Big D deserves to be out there.
Night after night, year after year, Henrik Sedin continues to pile up points. He'll be an All-Star for years to come.
The NHL All-Star Game is all about star power. It is a chance for the league to market its product, and what better way to do so than with one of the most exciting players in the game? Even in a down year, the NHL has to get Alexander Ovechkin on the ice for the All-Star Game.
While he doesn't quite have the numbers to justify All-Star selection, Evander Kane is developing into the type of player who will be the face of the Jets franchise. Kane makes it easy to root for him with his physical, hard-nosed style of play.