NHL All-Star Game 2011 report cards are out now as the full rosters have been released for the event later this month in Raleigh.
Hockey fans may not be overly excited about the game, but many are intrigued about how this fantasy draft and picking sides will play out (I still want to see all the players sticks get tossed in a pile and whichever sticks get tossed to a side, that's their team, but that's me). But at least today we learned who will play in the game.
We also learned some rookies who were named to the team but who will only compete in the SuperSkills competition.
So here's a breakdown of who was deserving and perhaps who shouldn't be going to Carolina.
It wouldn't be the All-Star game or another NHL event without at least one Staal there, and there will be two at this year's game. Marc has always been known as a defensive defenseman, but he's added offensive upside to his game with expanded power-play time. He has become the leader of an improving young Rangers' defense corps.
Don't get me wrong, Kane is one of the best players in the game today and he'll be an All-Star for many more years down the road. He just hasn't been that good this year and has struggled along with many of the Blackhawks. There were a few candidates who were better than Kane.
Possible Choices: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit
Giroux been phenomenal for the Flyers, becoming a top six forward while also becoming a fan favorite and another young star forward on a team loaded with young star forwards. He is definitely deserving and it is surprising that he's the only Flyer heading to the All-Star game right now.
Boyle's season is very similar to Mike Green's in the sense that he's having a somewhat down year offensively. But he is here because of his name. He's one of the best offensive defensemen in the game and he's also smart in his own zone. But there would've been better choices for the game than Boyle this season.
Possible Choices: John-Michael Liles, D, Colorado, Lubomir Visnovsky, D, Anaheim
Sharp has continued to trend upward since he's gotten to Chicago in 2005-06. He was a key part of the Stanley Cup team last season and he's been one of the Blackhawks best players this season with 25 goals, third best in the NHL. He's also 11th in points.
Hemsky is one of those guys who's here because the league wants to have a player from each team. It's not a knock on Hemsky, who's very talented and has some great moves when he wants to use them. But he's also very injury-prone and struggling this season.
Possible Choices: Ryan Whitney, D, Edmonton, Logan Couture, C, San Jose
Remember back in 2006 when Bobby Clarke and the Flyers tried to sign Kesler to an offer sheet. Apparently the Flyers and Canucks knew something no one else did, because now Kesler continues to trend upwards. He is very good both offensively and defensively, and he is about to shatter his career high for goals. Some media members in B.C. are calling him the Canucks' MVP.
Again, not trying to bash Backes, but this is one of those represent-every-team-at-the-All-Star-game type picks. Backes hasn't put up great numbers and if the NHL wanted to choose someone from St. Louis, I'm surprised they didn't look at Jaroslav Halak or Erik Johnson, although Backes does have a plus-13, so that's something.
Possible Choices: Jack Johnson, D, Los Angeles, Brian Rafalski, D, Detroit
Price has been the reason why Montreal is contending for a playoff spot, not to mention the Northeast Division title. He's faltered somewhat as of late, but he's gone from being persona non grata in one of the biggest pressure-cookers in the sport to posing after shootouts and having the Bell Centre chanting his name.
Elias has been one of the best players in franchise history, but he has no business being in the All-Star game. Nor does any Devil really, with the season they've been having. This is another "have one player from every team" type of pick, and there are a couple of players who should have gotten consideration over Elias.
Possible Choices: Daniel Briere, C, Philadelphia, Clarke MacArthur, W, Toronto
As with every All-Star game (especially those who take a representative from every team, I can't stress this enough), there are always debates about who should've been in and who shouldn't be in. It's become part of any All-Star team with the exception of the Pro Bowl, because no one involved with the Pro Bowl cares about the Pro Bowl.
There are a few major snubs that should've been on the team or in the pool but, for the most part, the players who were named are deserving and should be there.