With many teams heading into their bye week, the NHL announced its 2018 All-Star Game captains and coaches. Three divisions—the Metropolitan, Atlantic, and Central—paired a player with their own head coach as the captain/coach combo.
- Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Barry Trotz
- Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Jon Cooper
- Nashville’s P.K. Subban and Peter Laviolette
Out west, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid will lead the Pacific Division All-Stars with Vegas Golden Knights’ bench boss Gerard Gallant guiding the squad.
All four teams are set to sport some pretty sweet jerseys.
— NHL (@NHL) January 4, 2018
These captains and coaches could use some friends, though. Let’s take a look at the predicted rosters for this year’s All-Star Game in Tampa Bay.
|Line 1||Steven Stamkos||Nikita Kucherov||Victor Hedman|
|Line 2||Auston Matthews||Brad Marchand||Erik Karlsson|
|Line 3||Dylan Larkin||Jack Eichel||Aaron Ekblad|
|Goalies||Andrei Vasilevskiy||Carey Price|
Though the Lightning already have four players plus their coach representing the franchise as they host this year’s event, the case could be made that other players are deserving as well. Vladislav Namestnikov, Brayden Point, and Mikhail Sergachev have each had standout 2017-18 campaigns, but thanks to the small rosters and rule that each team must send a player, they’ll be watching their teammates instead.
Further south in Florida, Aaron Ekblad has quietly had a solid campaign, despite not putting up the offensive numbers that teammates Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, and Aleksander Barkov have produced. However, there really isn’t one forward above who could be fairly taken out for one member of Florida’s offensive trio. Dylan Larkin, Brad Marchand, and Jack Eichel have lit it up for their respective teams and deserve a trip to Tampa Bay.
|Line 1||Claude Giroux||Alex Ovechkin||John Carlson|
|Line 2||Sidney Crosby||Taylor Hall||Seth Jones|
|Line 3||John Tavares||Josh Bailey||Shayne Gostisbehere|
|Goalies||Braden Holtby||Henrik Lundqvist|
Choosing these 11 players was a difficult task. There are so many talented NHLers in the Metropolitan Division this year, especially at the forward positions. Jakub Voracek, Anders Lee, Phil Kessel, and Evgeni Malkin are all deserving of a roster spot, but have teammates with stronger credentials.
On defense and in net, it was a little more clear. John Carlson, Seth Jones, and Shayne Gostisbehere have had superb seasons on the blue line for their respective teams. Carlson is having a career year for the Capitals – possibly his last, as the defenseman is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. His everyday netminder, Braden Holtby, is second in the NHL in terms of wins and has been a rock for the Capitals. Holtby is a true competitor and will pair well with Henrik Lundqvist for the Metropolitan Division as they defend their three-on-three tournament title.
|Line 1||Nathan MacKinnon||Patrick Kane||P.K. Subban|
|Line 2||Tyler Seguin||Blake Wheeler||John Klingberg|
|Line 3||Brayden Schenn||Vladimir Tarasenko||Alex Pietrangelo|
|Goalies||Connor Hellebuyck||Devan Dubnyk|
If it wasn’t for an upper-body injury, Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele would be joining Blake Wheeler and Connor Hellebuyck in Tampa Bay for the All-Star Game. The resurgent Jets have been scoring goals by the handful en route to the top Central Division record. In addition to the goal-scoring, Hellebuyck has been fantastic in net for Winnipeg and has already garnered some Vezina Trophy consideration.
Another surprise team, the Colorado Avalanche, have been paced by Nathan MacKinnon’s MVP-worthy season. The young forward only trails Tampa Bay’s Kucherov in points with 52 on the year. Imagine pairing him with Patrick Kane up front in three-on-three play?
Don’t sleep on the defense either – the Central Division’s trio of blueliners are more than capable of holding their own in overtime-style play and contributing goals at the other end. Surely, P.K. Subban will make sure his team is ready to go after a disappointing first-round loss in last year’s game.
|Line 1||Connor McDavid||Johnny Gaudreau||Brent Burns|
|Line 2||Anze Kopitar||Jonathan Marchessault||Drew Doughty|
|Line 3||Brock Boeser||Clayton Keller||Colin Miller|
|Goalies||Marc-Andre Fleury||John Gibson|
With Gerard Gallant on the bench, it was hard to leave out Vegas standouts William Karlsson and James Neal. However, the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights are represented well by Jonathan Marchessault, Colin Miller, and Marc-Andre Fleury in net. This game will be a proud moment for the first-year franchise – one that wasn’t expected to do much in its inaugural season.
In addition to Marchessault, the Pacific Division will have a dangerous forward group, highlighted by Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau. There’s speed to burn across the three lines, including Miller, Drew Doughty, and Brent Burns manning the point. This squad could follow the Golden Knights’ lead and surprise the rest of the NHL at this year’s All-Star Game.
With these rosters, only one question remains: Who ya’ got?