This year’s NHL All Star Weekend goes down on Jan. 27-28 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, and once again boasts the same 3-on-3 format it has since 2016.
The league released the rosters selected for each of the four divisional squads on Wednesday, with each team comprising of six forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender.
Here’s how the Metropolitan, Atlantic, Central and Pacific lineups stack up:
Often more enjoyable than the actually game — though the quality has increased since the implementation of the 3-on-3 tournament format two years ago — is debating who should and shouldn’t be included on each team’s respective and highly subjective roster.
Here are two (obviously correct) candidates in each division who got left out.
Atlantic — Charlie McAvoy (D) and Frederik Andersen (G)
After making an immediate impact as a 19-year-old rookie in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Bruins last season, MacAvoy has firmly entrenched himself alongside Zdeno Chara on Boston’s top defense pairing. He’s eating up nearly 23 minutes of ice per night while anchoring the Bruins 20.8% power play, and has chipped in with a cool 21 points and 53.9% Corsi, too.
Freddie Andersen has been the second-best netminder in the Atlantic division this season, but a veteran Carey Price got the nod in this year’s event despite an injury-plagued and subpar start to the 2017-18 season. (Well, mostly because the Canadiens have no other option). Andersen has faced 30-plus shots in an astounding 30 of 36 games he’s played this year, and saw 40 or more shots five times — boasting a 4-0-1 record in those games. Despite facing the most shots and playing the most minutes of any NHL goaltender this season, Andersen has posted a .922 save percentage and is one of only four goaltenders with 22 wins or more through the first half.
Metropolitan — Zach Werenski (D) and Phil Kessel (F)
Werenski, like McAvoy, made his name known instantly as a 19-year-old NHL defenceman last season, and has cruised into 2017-18 without skipping a beat. Werenski, along with Seth Jones, have formed arguably the Eastern Conference’s best defence pairing, with the former chipping in 20 points while gobbling up 23:08 of TOI per night and boasting a 56.8 CF%.
Kessel, meanwhile, can shoot the puck as good as anyone in the league, is hilarious, frankly, and openly posted Instagram photos of himself crushing hotdogs out of the Stanley Cup. Every person and thing on this planet needs more Phil Kessel, and this year’s All Star game is no exception. Oh, he’s chipped in a tidy 1.07 points-per-game this season, too.
Central — Vladimir Tarasenko (F) And Jamie Benn (F)
Tarasenko has continued to light the lamp this season, both on the scoresheet and on the morning highlight reels. The 26-year-old has increased his point production each of the last seasons, and he’s on pace to best his previous season’s total for the fourth consecutive campaign. Tarasenko is tied for the team lead in points (44) and leads the Blues with 19 goals — three of those game winners.
Playing Robin to Tyler Seguin’s Superman as the pair anchors one of the NHL’s best lines, Benn has been his usual, solid self, chipping in mightily at both ends of the rink. He sits second on the Stars in goals (17) and points (39) and is the second-most utilized forward on the team’s roster, averaging 19:21 TOI this season. Watching the pair of Benn and Seguin playing alongside each other in a 3-on-3 tournament would be a tasty treat, but barring an injury or two, it looks like we won’t get that chance.
Pacific — Jonathan Marchessault (F) and Mark Giordano (D)
Marchessault has finally found a home in Vegas via the expansion draft last June after bouncing around with three different NHL clubs — Columbus, Tampa Bay and Florida — during his first four NHL seasons. The 27-year-old is clipping at a 1.05 points-per-game pace and leads the first-place Golden Knights in points (16-24—40) and shots on goal (135) while posting a plus-17 rating and averaging 17:10 of ice time.
Giordano has established himself as a top-10 NHL blue liner over the past few seasons, and he hasn’t slowed one bit in 2017-18. The 34-year-old captain of the third-place Calgary Flames leads the team in ice time (24:37) and has chipped in eight goals and 20 points while posting a very solid 57.2 even strength Corsi %.
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