by PuckStopsHere on 01/10/17 at 09:38 PM ET
Today the NHL announced the players who will fill out the NHL All Star teams. Last week I made my picks. Naturally some picks agree and some disagree. The discrepancies happen for several reasons. I pick my team so that it will have the players who have played the best so far this season as of the date of selection. I am not interested in picking a more proven star player who is having a weaker season. I see my picks as a record of who has been playing the best at the time of selection. The NHL does not. The NHL will pick an undeserving player if he is more marketable. The NHL allows veteran players to quietly opt out of the game and selects other players in their place. On top of that there are legitimate discrepancies where I believe a player has outplayed another but the NHL does not.
Here are the selected All Stars. First I will list players that agree on both my lists and on the NHL list and then I will address the discrepancy picks.
Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
Brad Marchand Boston Bruins
Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Victor Hedman Tampa Bay Lightning
Erik Karlsson Ottawa Senators
Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Tuukka Rask Boston Bruins
Frans Neilsen selected as the Detroit representative instead of Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg leads Detroit in scoring with 28 points. Neilsen is third with 22 points. Zetterberg gets more playing time. Zetterberg is clearly playing better. However he doesn't want to play in the All Star Game. That is why he is continually getting omitted from these teams. Last year Dylan Larkin was a hot rookie in Detroit but he wasn't outplaying Zetterberg. Nevertheless Zetterberg missed the game and Larkin played. Henrik Zetterberg should have a few more All Star Games in his career. He hasn't played in one since 2008 when he declined with an injury but he should have.
Vincent Trocheck selected as the Florida representative instead of Aleksander Barkov. Barkov is the top scorer on the Panthers with 27 points. Trocheck is fourth in scoring with 24 points. Barkov is clearly a better player defensively as well. Barkov is out with a lower body injury. He is listed as being out 2-3 weeks as of the late December date he got hurt. Thus he should be healthy in time for the All Star Game but perhaps the NHL is erring on the side of caution to prevent them from having to replace him later.
Kyle Okposo in place of Max Pacioretty. Okposo was chosen as the Buffalo representative. I think Rasmus Ristolainen is a better selection. A defenceman with one fewer point than a forward has had a better season to date. Pacioretty is fourth among Atlantic Division forward (behind Kucherov, Marchand and Matthews) and is clearly outplaying Okposo.
Shea Weber in place of Rasmus Ristolainen. Weber is clearly playing better than Ristolainen. They are equal offensively with 26 points. Weber is by far a better defensive player. Weber had a very good start to the season and was an early season Norris and even Hart Trophy leader. Weber is a more marketable All Star and hence Buffalo had to take Kyle Okposo in place of Rasmus Ristolainen despite the fact Ristolainen is outplaying Okposo. I do think the fact that Shea Weber was omitted from my team is a significant omission, but the choices required to put him on the team make for worse choices.
Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Taylor Hall New Jersey Devils
Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
John Tavares New York Islanders
Ryan McDonagh New York Rangers
Sergei Bobrovsky Columbus Blue Jackets
Braden Holtby Washington Capitals
Wayne Simmonds in place of Jakub Voracek as the Philadelphia selection. Voracek has 39 points and Simmonds has 32. That should be enough to show this is not the best pick. I think Vorcaek probably made it clear that he wanted to have All Star weekend off. That is the best way to explain this pick.
Alex Ovechkin in place of Cam Atkinson. Atkinson is tied for third in scoring in the Metropolitan Division with fellow omission Jakub Voracek and Phil Kessel. He gets the nod over Kessel because he doesn't play with as high a quality of linemate. Ovechkin is clearly more marketable as one of the NHLs biggest stars but he isn't having an All Star season. Ovechkin is the tenth highest scorer in the division. On a team with six forward spots, that shouldn't be enough.
Justin Faulk in place of Jaccob Slavin as the Carolina representative. Slavin and Faulk are tied offensively with 16 points but Slavin is much better defensively. Carolina sees this and gives Slavin more playing time than Faulk. However Faulk is a better known player who has had a more significant career to date. Hence he was the one selected.
Seth Jones in place of Justin Schultz. I argue that Zach Werenski has been the best Columbus defenceman so far this season. Since the NHL loves to push its young stars, I am surprised they didn't put him on in Jones spot. Justin Schultz is tied with Werenski and Ryan McDonagh as the top scoring defenceman in the Metropolitan Dvision. Schultz is tied for the NHL lead with a +24 +/- rating. While it appears Werenski may be slowing down, Schultz is improving recently. Schultz has had defensive issues in his Edmonton days but they appear to have been solved in Pittsburgh. I argue that his defensive play has been better than the rookie Werenski so far. I argue that Seth Jones is behind both of them.
Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Tyler Seguin Dallas Stars
Vladimir Tarasenko St Louis Blues
Duncan Keith Chicago Blackhawks
PK Subban Nashville Predators
Ryan Suter Minnesota Wild
Corey Crawford Chicago Blackhawks
Devan Dubnyk Minnesota Wild
Patrick Laine in place of Mark Scheifele as the Winnipeg Jets representative. The NHL likes to push its young stars and Patrick Laine is the top scoring rookie so far this year. His problem is his concussion may be an issue to keep him out of the game. It isn't clear what his timeline for recovery is. Scheifele and Laine have the same point total with 37 each. Scheifele has two fewer games played and more playing time than Laine. This shows that the Winnipeg Jets see Scheifele as the better player at this point.
Nathan MacKinnon in place of Matt Duchene as the Colorado Avalanche representative. MacKinnon has three more points in four more games played. I see Duchene as the better player. He is the Colorado goal leader. I think it is very close between these two players.
Jonathan Toews in place of Artemi Panarin. Panarin is third in scoring in the Central Division. Toews is 39th. That is enough to justify my pick. Toews is a much more marketable player who is not having a strong year. He is a former All Star captain. Ironically the NHL likes to push its young stars and Panarin is the reigning Calder Trophy winner, which makes him last year's young star and today's omitted All Star.
Jeff Carter Los Angeles Kings
Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Ryan Kesler Anaheim Ducks
Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers
Joe Pavelski San Jose Sharks
Brent Burns San Jose Sharks
Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
Mike Smith Arizona Coyotes
Johnny Gaudreau in place of Leon Drasaitl. Draisaitl is the fourth highest scoring forward in the Pacific Division. Gaudreau is ninth. Clearly Drasaitl has been a better player so far this year. A large part of this is because Gaudreau has missed some games to injury. Gaudreau is the Calgary representative on the All Star team. I chose Dougie Hamilton as the Calgary rep. Since Hamilton has been healthy all season I argue he is more valuable to Calgary so far this year. Gaudreau is a more marketable player than Hamilton or Drasiaitl so the NHL took him.
Cam Fowler in place of Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton has outscored Fowler so far by one point. Hamilton is the third highest scoring defenceman in the Pacific Division. While Fowler has more playing time than Hamilton so far this year, I argue that Hamilton is better defensively as he doesn't have the puck possession issues that Fowler has shown in the past. I think Hamilton is a better pick at defence and since it is required that a Calgary player makes the team, he is my selection.
Martin Jones in place of Cam Talbot. Talbot has the better saves percentage behind a weaker defence. I think Jones was selected because he went to the Stanley Cup finals last year and thus has a higher profile.
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