Before the NHL announces the rosters for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which will take place at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay on Jan. 28.
Of course, nobody could have known the host Tampa Bay Lightning would run away with the Eastern Conference at the halfway mark but that is exactly what they have done. With 63 points already this season, Tampa Bay has an eight-point cushion on the red-hot Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Expect them to be well represented on my Atlantic Division team.
My 2018 NHL All-Star Game Roster Selections
I selected six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies for each of the four divisions. The teams will compete in a 3-on-3 style tournament, which began at the 2016 All-Star Game in Nashville, and has drawn rave reviews from players, coaches and hockey fans.
The Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions will face off to determine the Eastern Conference winner. Then, the Central and Pacific Divisions will do the same to determine the Western Conference’s representative. Then, the winning divisional teams from each conference will square off in the final to determine the champion. Each game will be divided into two 10-minute halves.
Last year, the Metropolitan All-Stars beat their counterparts from the Central Division, 4-3 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Every team needs at least one representative. With only a limited number of spots available, this means many deserving players were snubbed. But guys are snubbed every season in every professional sport, regardless of the format. If your favorite player does not make the cut, let me know. But that is part of selecting All-Star rosters.
Without further ado, here my picks for each division starting in the East.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (Captain)
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabers
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
The Lightning dominated this roster, and for good reason. Tampa Bay has four players on my team, while no other team has more than one.
Stamkos was voted as the captain by the fans and his 51 points are tied for fourth in the NHL. Stamkos’ linemate and Hart Trophy frontrunner Nikita Kucherov leads the league in scoring (59 points) and is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals (27).
Hedman is tied for fourth among defenseman in points (31) and assists (26). He has a great impact the game at both ends of the ice. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was an easy decision. He ranks third in save percentage (.935) and Goals Against Average (2.04).
Marchand leads the Bruins with 40 points and he, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak have formed one of the most explosive lines in the NHL. Matthews is second to Kucherov in goals among Atlantic forwards and is the clear pick for the Maple Leafs. Jack Eichel leads the Sabers in points, and the same can be said for Huberdeau in Florida.
Dylan Larkin and Mark Stone were deserving candidates, but I could not a spot on among the forward group. As a result, Erik Karlsson and Mike Green, two guys that could get traded at the deadline made the squad. Price has not a great season for the Canadiens but he gets the nod over the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask because Montreal needed a representative.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Captain)
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
Ovechkin has had a great bounce-back season, currently sitting tied for first in goals (27). Hall has easily been the Hurricanes best player with 42 points.
The Islanders have not had a great season, but they have been scoring goals at a crazy rate. Tavares (51 points) and Bailey (50 points) sit inside the top 10 among all forwards in scoring.
Yes, you read that right. Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both excluded. The Penguins have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments, but Kessel has been the most consistent point producer.
I wanted to include both Giroux and teammate Jakub Voracek, who sit second and fourth respectively in points. Voracek leads the league with 43 assists, but I went with Giroux.
Carlson leads all Metro defensemen in scoring and was an easy choice. Gostisbehere sits second among all Metropolitan defenseman in points with 32. Hanifin has had a great season for Carolina.
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators (Captain)
John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
The Colorado Avalanche currently hold a playoff spot and MacKinnon is a contender for MVP. Only Kucherov has more points than MacKinnon, who is tied for second with Giroux at 52 points.
Wheeler sits second in points among Central forwards with 50 and has led the charge for the division-leading Jets. It was too hard to exclude either Tarasenko or Schenn. Both have nearly identical stats and have had a major impact on the Central’s second-best team.
Seguin has scored the most goals among Central forwards (21) and sits tied for sixth in points with Kane, who is one representative for the underperforming Blackhawks.
Klingberg and Subban sit first and second respectively in points among Central defenseman. It was tough to keep Alex Pietrangelo off the team, but the Wild need a representative. Eric Staal was considered, but ultimately Suter was my choice. Nobody averages more time on ice among Central defenseman than Suter (26:50).
The Jets needed a great goaltender to take the next step, and Hellebuyck has been the answer. Crawford has kept the last-place Blackhawks afloat in a tightly bunched division.
This was by far the toughest team to pick.
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (Captain)
Jon Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
If it were not for one player from each team rule, the best story in the NHL and the best team in the Western Conference could have easily had five or six representatives.
But Marchessault has led the way in scoring and Fleury leads the league in Save Percentage (.945) and Goals Against Average (1.73).
McDavid leads all Pacific Division forwards in scoring (47 points) for the disappointing Oilers. Kopitar, who sits third among Pacific forwards in points (44) and Doughty, who leads Pacific defensemen in points (30) and TOI (27:10) are my choices for the Kings, who are second in the Pacific behind Vegas.
Gaudreau sits second to McDavid in points among Pacific forwards (46) and Giordano is fourth to Doughty in TOI among Pacific defenseman and has always been reliable. I picked Giordano over Oliver Ekman-Larsson because he has been the more consistent player.
Boeser leads all NHL rookies in points and goals. Keller leads the Coyotes in points, goals, and assists as a rookie and was the Calder Trophy favorite in October. Burns, who is tied with Doughty for first in points among Pacific defensemen (30) was the obvious choice for the Sharks.