NHL All Star Game: Top 20 Forwards Who Got Snubbed
This season's NHL All Star Game will be a little bit different from previous years, with the NHL picking two captains, who will then draft their own dream teams.
Unfortunately for the yet to be named captains, their dreams teams will be missing many players they certainly would have loved to have.
Let's take a look at the top 20 snubbed forwards for this year's All Star Game.
Notably Missing: Seriously Under-Performing Stars
Like a devastating car crash that you can't turn away from, Kovalchuk's disappointing season doesn't need to be mentioned again, but I can't help myself. 41 games, 10 goals, 23 points, and a minus 29 rating for $100 million, and they get him for another 14 years...
San Jose's former captain has something more than his poor play in common with Kovalchuk; both signed monstrous contracts prior to this season. Just a coincidence? Or are Marleau's 30 points in 43 games, and minus 17 rating, more to do with the fact that he'll never need money again?
Yes, Gabo has been injured for part of this season, but that's to be expected. What's surprising is that he's well under a point-per-game when he's played (23 points in 30 games) and the Rangers are still doing well.
Savard, like Gaborik, has missed some time this year, but ever since the hit he took from Matt Cooke last March, that caused the NHL to institute Rule 48, he hasn't been the same. He has only six points and is a minus eight in just 19 games.
Jumbo Joe seems to be feeling the weight of wearing the "C" for the Sharks. He's had his worst start in over a decade, and has never had such a low plus/minus rating. Currently, Thornton's played 41 games, and has 10 goals and 35 points, to go with being a minus 12. Maybe he thinks it's playoffs?
Injured Players Who Would've Been There
The Ducks' superstar captain hasn't had his best season this year, but with 37 points in 40 games before breaking sinuses by taking a puck in the face, Getzlaf certainly would've been on his way to Raleigh.
The Sabres' small, speedy star was averaging a point-per-game through 35 games, before tearing a tendon in his quad.
Stewart is quickly becoming one of, if not the, best power forwards in the NHL. He had 25 points in 23 games for the Avalanche before breaking his hand in a fight. He should be back soon, and I had thought he might still get a spot in the game.
Parise wasn't off to a great start, with just six points in twelve games before a major knee injury, but as one of the best young stars in the game, he likely would have picked it up enough to make the All Star Game.
The Surprising Inclusions
The best of the worst has been far from a star in the league this season, with nine goals and 30 points in 41 games (not terrible), but a minus 11 rating. This must be the pick to have someone included from every team. Although, when Kovalchuk is second on the team, Elias looks pretty good.
While Kessel does have 18 goals on the year, he only has 30 points, in 41 games, and he's a minus 15. And, that's after a recent hot streak that's seen him have seven points in his last five games. Before that, it was really ugly.
Hemsky hasn't been bad this season, when he's played. He has 24 points in 27 games, but only nine goals. Just Elias and Henrik Sedin have so few goals, and Henrik leads the league in assists. The Oilers also have Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle as representatives, so it's not a pick just to have an Oiler there.
#20: Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto Maple Leafs
This is one player I never expected to be considered for an All Star game, far less think he actually should have made it, albeit as Toronto's representative, instead of Phil Kessel.
Grabo has one less goal than Kessel (17), but has 33 points in 40 games, including 18 points in 15 games since December 6th.
He also boasts a plus six rating, which is best on the dismal Maple Leafs. Only two other regulars, Grabovski's linemates Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur, are on the plus side.
#19: Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings
Dustin Brown has been top three in the league in hits each of the last four years, and currently sits second; how awesome would that be in normally non-contact All Star Game?
To go along with his physical play, the Kings captain has 17 goals and 17 assists in 34 games, and is a plus 13. He also has just 39 PIMs, which is impressive for how often he hits.
#18: Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings
Another Kings forward having himself a great season is Justin Williams. He's on pace for his best season since 2005-06, with 16 goals and 19 assists in 42 games. He's also a plus 12.
It's nice to see a guy like Williams have a bounce-back season, after missing 116 games over the last three seasons from a torn ACL and MCL, injured back, broken hand, torn Achilles tendon, and broken leg.
#17: Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
The fact that Joe Thornton makes both the Seriously Under-Performing Stars and Top 20 All Star Snubs is a testament to just how good he's been in the regular season for the last decade.
He's ranged from 86 to 125 points each season since the lockout, and has played in every All Star Game since 2002, including being Western Conference captain in 2009. He's played for Canada in the Olympics in the Iyears the All Star Game hasn't been played.
I expect Thornton will find his game and still put up a point-per-game by the end of the season.
#16: Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars
Mike Ribeiro centres arguably the best second line in the NHL. Brendan Morrow, Jamie Benn, and Ribeiro are a great combination with Benn and Morrow's physical play and scoring touch, and Ribeiro's fantastic passing talents.
So far this year, Ribeiro has nine goals and 27 assists in 43 games, and a plus one rating. That's pretty good for a second-liner.
#15: Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
Mikko Koivu used to be known simply as Saku Koivu's little brother; now, he's creating a name for himself. He's the Minnesota Wild's first captain in franchise history, and is their best all-around player.
So far this year, Koivu has 10 goals and 26 assists in 42 games, and is an impressive plus seven on a Wild team that isn't all that good.
#14: Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks
Can you imagine Ryane Clowe "playing nice" at the All Star Game? Me either. I think it would definitely add some excitement!
As the Sharks big three of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley have disappointed this season, Clowe and his linemates Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture have really stepped up. All three are big, physical players, and work very well together.
Clowe has 11 goals and 25 assists in 43 games, to go along with a plus nine rating.
#13: Andrew Ladd, Atlanta Thrashers
Andrew Ladd has been so good this season that on November 18th, the Thrashers named him team captain. Ladd is already close to setting a new career high in points.
Ladd has 14 goals and 22 assists in 45 games so far, and is a minus four, but has Atlanta clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
#12: Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
Danny Briere has the most goals of anyone not invited to the All Star Game, and sits sixth in the league. He's also top ten in the league in plus/minus.
Briere has 22 goals and 15 assists in 39 games, and is plus 19.
And, isn't the non-contact All Star Game pretty much like Heaven for pint-sized Briere?
#11: Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
If the All Star Game is Heaven for Briere, it's something even better than that for the ultra-slick Alexander Semin.
Semin dangles NHL defensemen on a regular basis when they're trying to stop him, so when they're not, it would be pretty entertaining to watch.
On top of that, Semin has 18 goals and 17 assists in 39 games, and is a plus eight.
#10: Brandon Dubinsky, New York Rangers
Brandon Dubinsky has been the Rangers best forward this season, by far. He has 17 goals and 20 assists in 44 games, and is 13 points ahead of the next highest Rangers scorer.
Dubinsky is also the Rangers best penalty-killing forward, and isn't afraid to drop the gloves to support his teammates.
#9: Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
The perennial Selke Trophy candidate, for best defensive forward, Mike Richards is everything a team could want in a leader.
He kills penalties, fights, blocks shots, scores, and generally leads by example on and off the ice.
Plus, he has 13 goals and 24 assists in 41 games.
#8: Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks
The best of the big three in San Jose thus far, Heatley still hasn't been good enough to get an All Star Selection.
He has a respectable 15 goals and 22 assists in 37 games, but that's just not good enough for a guy who's had 50 goals and 100 points a couple of times.
#7: Martin Havlat, Minnesota Wild
Since Martin Havlat's agent publicly blasted the Wild coaches on October 28th, for not giving Havlat enough ice time, he's got 10 goals and 32 points in 34 games.
Havlat is looking like the good Havlat who seems to show up every second season lately, and the Wild are loving it. Havlat, along with Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns, have the Wild in the running for a playoff spot, which not many people expected.
#6: Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin's set-up man has, not surprisingly, seen a drop in his numbers that corresponds with Ovie's off season so far.
Preseason, I picked Backstrom to improve upon his 101 points from last year, and while I've been disappointed, Backstrom is still among the top 20 scorers in the league.
He has 11 goals and 27 assists in 42 games, and is a plus eight; watch for Backstrom to pick up the pace and still hit 85 or 90 points.
#5: Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche
Paul Stastny hasn't yet suffered an injury that would cause him to miss the All Star Game, but maybe by not naming him to the All Stars prevented one.
Twice, Stastny has missed the All Star Game due to injury, including in 2008, when he was injured just after they announced him to the team.
Stastny is off to a great start this season, especially considering his rotating linemates (due to injuries). He has 16 goals and 21 assists in 41 games.
#4: Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche
Many people thought Milan Hejduk's career was winding down, after seeing his point totals gradually decline (not every single season) since his phenomenal season of 98 points in 2002-03.
This season he looks like he's feeling the youth infusion of playing with sensational sophomore, and All Star, Matt Duchene.
Hejduk's proving his doubters wrong, and deserved a spot in the All Star Game with 13 goals and 23 assists in 36 games.
#3: Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks
Teemu said before the season that this would be his final year in the NHL; the Ducks must be praying he's wrong. If Selanne does decide to retire, he'll sure be going out on a high note.
So far, the 40 year old Selanne has 12 goals and 25 assists in 36 games.
It would've been really nice to see one of the classiest players in the league get to play in one more All Star Game.
#2: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk is one of the most skilled players in the league, and despite missing ten games from injury so far, he's 18th in league scoring, with 39 points in 33 games.
He should be back from his broken hand before the All Star Game, so I can't help but wonder if his being left off the All Star team is because of skipping the game in 2009 to rest an injury. He and Nick Lidstrom were each suspended one game because of it.
#1: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
There's no reason for Henrik Zetterberg to be left out of the All Star Game.
He sits sixth in league scoring, with 16 goals and 33 assists in 43 games, and has a plus nine rating.
He's been the hottest player in the league, since linemate Pavel Datsyuk was injured, and is on an 11 game point streak, in which he has 16 points.
Zetterberg is on pace for his best season ever, so hopefully the All Star Break will give him a chance to relax and prepare for the run to the playoffs.