2012 NHL All-Star Game: One Player from Each Team Who Should Be There

Matthew FairburnCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2012

2012 NHL All-Star Game: One Player from Each Team Who Should Be There

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    On Thursday night, Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara will divvy up the teams like it's a game of river hockey. But a handful of players won't be available at the draft after missing out on the chance to take part in the midseason showdown. 

    In the MLB, each team must have one representative in the All-Star game. However, the NHL has found a way around that by including rookies in the skills challenge and counting those players as representatives for their teams.

    In this slideshow, I will take a look at one player from each team that either should have made it, or would have made it if the NHL had a similar policy to the MLB.

    Of course, some teams don't have a player that deserves to be there. I'll mention that as well. 

    If there is a player that opted not to go, but should be there, you'll find him in here. (I'm looking at you, Ovi.)

    I will also rank these in terms of which guy deserved it the most to avoid the bland, alphabetical order we are all sick of seeing.

    Let's get to it.

Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron

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    Patrice Bergeron was snubbed out of an All-Star appearance. He is every bit Tyler Seguin's equal offensively this season (both have 43 points), but Bergeron blows him out of the water in terms of defensive play and leadership.

    Bergeron's worth will never be questioned in the Bruins' locker room, but his game does not lend itself to national recognition. 

Washington Capitals: Alexander Ovechkin

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    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?

    Ovechkin has a responsibility to be there as one of the game's brightest stars.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby

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    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. 

Florida Panthers: Kris Versteeg

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    Kris Versteeg was the most notable omission from the All-Star Game. His 43 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. 

Vancouver Canucks: Kevin Bieksa

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    The Canucks haven't missed Christian Ehrhoff too much this season, and Kevin Bieksa's improved offensive play is a big reason why. He has also been characteristically sound in the defensive zone.

    However, he was snubbed from the All-Star Game.

Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne

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    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 midseason classic.

    It's a shame.

Philadelphia Flyers: Jaromir Jagr

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    One 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.

New York Rangers: Michael Del Zotto

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    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 24 points and plus-22 rating have played a big role in that.

New Jersey Devils: Patrik Elias

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    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 46 points and has the Devils playing competitive hockey. 

Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne

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    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.

Minnesota Wild: Mikko Koivu

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    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.

    Unfortunately, Koivu will miss the game due to injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash

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    Rick Nash only has 33 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.

Carolina Hurricanes: Jeff Skinner

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    If it weren't for an unfortunate head injury, Jeff Skinner would be representing the Carolina Hurricanes at the All-Star Game. He was on his way to a big-time season and was really starting to develop.

Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek

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    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. 

Detroit Red Wings: Nicklas Lidstrom

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    It's going to be strange not seeing Nicklas Lidstrom suited up for the All-Star Game. He deserves some time off, but I think most hockey fans will miss him out there.

Phoenix Coyotes: Radim Vrbata

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    Radim Vrbata is experiencing a breakout season, but he has not been awarded with a spot in the All-Star Game.

    In a bigger market, his 22 goals may be enough to get him into the game.

Colorado Avalanche: None

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    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.

Chicago Blackhawks: None

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    The Chicago Blackhawks will be well represented at the NHL All-Star Game. Not much to gripe about.

Calgary Flames: None

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    Can anyone honestly make a case for anyone but Jarome Iginla to be representing the Flames this weekend?

Dallas Stars: None

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    It's great to see Jamie Benn get the recognition he deserves. He is having an outstanding season. Other than Benn, no Star was worthy of consideration.

Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle

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    If one player from each team had to play in the All-Star Game, the league could easily make a case for Jordan Eberle. His 45 points are up there with some of the best in the league.

    He should have been put on the roster the first time around, not just as an injury replacement.

Los Angeles Kings: None

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    A quick look at that stat sheet makes it obvious why Jon Quick is the only Los Angeles King heading to Ottawa.

Toronto Maple Leafs: None

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans don't have much to complain about in regards to their All-Star Game selections.

New York Islanders: John Tavares

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    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.

Tampa Bay Lightning: None

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    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.

Ottawa Senators: None

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    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. Four may have been a bit much.

Montreal Canadiens: None

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    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.

San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton

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    Joe Thornton is not having his usual monster season, but the Sharks captain is plugging away with a solid 38 points, two 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: Brian Elliot

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    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.

Winnipeg Jets: Evander Kane

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    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.