The Kings had more players selected for the Pacific Division team than any of their division counterparts.
Los Angeles Kings Send Three Representatives for NHL All-Star Game
Kopitar has bounced back nicely from an uncharacteristically lacklustre season last year. He’s scored 44 points in 42 games this year. He’s combining that offensive prowess with his famously strong defensive play.
Doughty looks like one of the favourites to win the Norris Trophy this season. He leads the NHL in Time on Ice Per Game with 27:10, ranks 4th in plus-minus with +21 and is tied for 7th among defenseman with 30 points.
Quick has returned after an injury-shortened season last year to once again look like an elite goaltender. Among qualified goalies, he ranks 5th in save percentage with .926, 6th in goals-against average with 2.31, and tied for 7th in wins with 19.
All Kings Selections are Justified
There were some surprises amongst the Pacific Division roster, but none of the Kings selections can be quibbled with.
Amongst goaltenders within the division, nobody has more wins or a higher save percentage than Quick. San Jose Sharks goalie Aaron Dell has the lower goals against average compared to Quick, but he has only played 16 games while serving as Martin Jones’ backup.
Doughty is tied with Brent Burns for the most points amongst Pacific Division blueliners with 30.
There are no egregious snubs from the Kings. The requirement of every team needing at least one representative makes the selection process more nuanced than simply picking players with the best stats.
Questionable Choices on the Pacific Division Roster
Relatively speaking it seems like most who deserved to be picked for the Pacific Division got chosen, but there were some selections that sent obvious ripples through the roster and forced some questionable omissions.
This spot could have easily been taken by John Gibson instead. Amongst Pacific Division goaltenders who have played in at least 20 games, only Quick has a higher save percentage, only Quick, Jones, and Mike Smith have lower goals against averages, and only Quick, Smith, and Cam Talbot have more wins.
Let’s assume that Fleury should not even be on the roster due to his scarcity of appearances, despite his fantastic performance in that limited time.
Based purely on stats, the spot alongside Quick probably should have gone to Smith. However, the Calgary Flames were always guaranteed to have their quota met due to the stellar season Gaudreau has been having.
The Ducks don’t have the type of player who absolutely demands a spot. If Gibson is just a notch below Smith in terms of qualifications, he could easily have been justified and the Ducks would have gotten their representative.
With the inclusion of Fleury, it forced a roster spot to be taken with a Ducks player besides Gibson. Ultimately forward Rickard Rakell got the nod.
How the Pacific Division Roster Could Have Looked Different
There are eight teams in the division and 11 roster spots to fill. Essentially that means that there are three at-large bids available once every team gets their representative.
The two teams in the division that got multiple representatives were the Kings and the Golden Knights.
Gibson’s inclusion could have freed up the forward spot that is now being taken by Rackell, who has 31 points in 38 games.
Comparatively, a forward like Jon Marchessault was left off the roster despite having 40 points in 38 games.
The Fleury selection is probably the biggest grievance on the roster, and any choice like this has effects throughout the rest of the lineup in terms of players that can be chosen.
Marchessault has a strong case for being the biggest snub from this division. His teammate James Neal made the squad despite tallying 11 points less than Marchessault.
Tinkering with the Roster
Amongst the six forwards selected, McDavid, Gaudreau, Kopitar, and Brock Boeser are the ones who have the strongest cases for inclusion.
The two remaining spots with Neal and Rakell seem questionable. Had Gibson made the squad, Rakell could have been removed.
Guys like Marchessault and Sean Monahan would be upgrades over Neal and Rakell. Monahan has 39 points while Neal has just 29 points.
Amongst the defensive unit, Doughty and Brent Burns were the two players who were absolutely making the squad. The last spot was not so clear-cut.
It’s a solid choice, but the Coyotes could have sent forward Clayton Keller instead, who has more points than Rakell.
Ekman-Larsson could have then been replaced by Jake Muzzin as that third defenseman while ensuring that the Coyotes got their representative, while Keller would replace Rakell and Gibson would replace Fleury.
The chain reaction really begins with replacing Fleury in this lineup. If Fleury is taken out, he can be replaced by Gibson, then Keller can replace Rakell, and then Muzzin can replace Ekman-Larsson.
Gibson’s exclusion ends up making this team worse. Keller is more deserving than Rakell, and Muzzin is more deserving than Ekman-Larsson.
My biggest concerns are the Golden Knights selections. Neal should not have made the team based on his production, and Fleury didn’t play enough to deserve inclusion.
Marchessault should have been the Golden Knights only selection. That would have opened a goaltender spot and allowed the Coyotes to either send Keller or Ekman-Larsson, and the final spot would have been taken by either the best remaining forward or best remaining defenseman. If Keller had gone from the Coyotes, Muzzin could snag the last spot. If Ekman-Larsson had gone from the Coyotes, Monahan could secure that final slot.
Team should have gone with McDavid, Gaudreau, Kopitar, Boeser, Marchessault, and Monahan as my six forwards, Doughty, Burns, and Ekman-Larsson as my three defensemen, and Quick and Gibson as my two goaltenders.
The Kings are going to be the most represented Pacific Division team in the All-Star Game. The trio of Kopitar, Doughty, and Quick certainly deserve their inclusion amongst the very best hockey players the league has to offer.