NHL fans are having their say as to who should represent the league as First Team All-Stars, and the results aren’t pretty.
If voting were to end at this point, the First Team of All-Stars would include three Leafs, two Sens and Sidney Crosby, who is currently out for an indefinite period of time. All-Star voting runs until January 4th, 2012.
Some of these players have no business being selected as the top players at their position. Others, like Crosby and James Reimer, have no business being selected as an All-Star for this season due to being injured for most of the year.
It’s pretty obvious that these players are leading the vote because the game itself is being held in Ottawa. While the game itself is usually a joke, getting picked as an All-Star still has some prestige attached to it.
Today’s vote totals serve to compromise that prestige.
Who would you pick as your First Team instead? I’ve got my six. Let’s take a look.
Jonathan Toews has amassed 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in 30 games this year.
He is a huge reason why the Chicago Blackhawks have been so successful this year, sitting first in the Central Division and second overall in the West.
Aside from his intangible leadership qualities, Toews has scored a little over a sixth of Chicago’s total output and has won 61.9 percent of his faceoffs—tops amongst the top 50 centers in scoring. He does it all.
While the NHL All-Star Voting website does not differentiate between forward positions, Sidney Crosby has the top number of votes amongst centers with 404,429 votes.
After returning from a concussion with much fanfare, Crosby played only eight games until he was listed as out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.
He did well, scoring two goals and adding 10 assists, but has not played enough this year to merit an All-Star selection at all.
He may not play in the All-Star Game, depending on if he returns in time or the Pittsburgh Penguins allow him to play. If he doesn’t, Jason Spezza would get the call instead. Not a decent alternative. It should be Toews.
Again, since the NHL’s voting system doesn’t differentiate between forward positions, two right wingers and a center are the top three vote-getters.
Let’s even things up by throwing a left winger back in there. You can’t go wrong with Daniel Sedin.
Sedin has 12 goals and 22 assists in 29 games. But perhaps most importantly, his point production has had a huge impact on the Vancouver Canucks’ rise back into the playoff picture.
Daniel Sedin’s Swedish compatriot, Daniel Alfredsson, is the forward with the third-highest total of votes at 384,050.
While an inclusion to the First Team when the game is being held in Ottawa towards the end of his career would make for a great story, it wouldn’t be fair.
Alfredsson only has 16 points in 24 games, far off his usual pace and unworthy of an All-Star selection period, let alone a First Team All-Star selection.
Two days ago, my answer would have been Claude Giroux here. My, how quickly things can change. This is an incredibly close race.
The Philadelphia Flyers forward leads the league with 39 points, three better than Phil “The Thrill” Kessel.
However, news that Giroux will be out indefinitely with a concussion means that Kessel will likely regain the scoring lead.
Both mean so much to their teams, but Kessel’s durability ultimately gives him the nod.
Phil Kessel leads all vote-getters in the NHL with 464,714 votes.
After looking like a little kid at the playground in last year’s fantasy draft, Kessel has received vindication from the fans.
People are eating their words and Alex Ovechkin is eating his Blackberry.
Brian Campbell has been superb for the Florida Panthers this year, with two goals and 22 assists. He is also why the Panthers’ power play unit is ranked eighth this year, with 15 of his 24 points scored with a man advantage.
Unfortunately, fans have not recognized his accomplishments, as he does not even rank in the top 20 for votes amongst defensemen.
Things have finally gotten better for Campbell since leaving the Blackhawks in the offseason after winning the Stanley Cup.
The Toronto Maple Leafs ornery captain Dion Phaneuf is the second-best vote-getter for defensemen with 395,082 votes.
He has been downright excellent this year and earlier on he was playing at an All-Star caliber of play, but his pace has slowed down.
He is still a tremendous threat for the Leafs at both ends of the ice, but he hasn’t had a better year than Brian Campbell. Still, an All-Star First Team selection for Phaneuf would be better than the third-highest vote-getter, Kris Letang, who is currently ranked 16th in scoring amongst defensemen.
Of the two Ottawa Senators players currently in line for a First Team selection, Erik Karlsson is the player that actually deserves it. He leads all defensemen in scoring with 26 points in 31 games, 11 scored on the power play.
He has led the charge by the Senators to defy their naysayers and surprisingly remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.
After last year’s breakout performance, Karlsson has followed it up with an even better one. He’ll be an All-Star for many years, that’s for sure.
Erik Karlsson leads all defensemen in votes with 421,343.
While the Ottawa Senators will likely get plenty of representation at this year’s All-Star game, Karlsson is the star that most deserves to be there.
The fans got this one right.
With 37 wins last year, you might think that Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard would deserve to be included on the All-Star ballot this year.
Jimmy Howard has the eighth-best vote total amongst goalies, even as a write-in vote. He leads the NHL in wins with 17 and in goals against average with a sparkling 1.82 GAA.
The only goalie who has performed as well as Howard is Brian Elliot of the St. Louis Blues. However, Elliot has only played in 15 games.
James Reimer leads all goalies in votes with 308,025, roughly 12,000 more than Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
Optimus Reim got a great win for the Leafs tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes and has played well this year, with a 5-2-2 record.
However, Reimer has only played in 10 games, one of which he only played for the first period as he sustained concussion-like symptoms during a game against the Montreal Canadiens on October 22nd.
Reimer is an awesome goalie and may actually earn a First Team All-Star selection some day, but this year it should go to Jimmy Howard.