Next month, the world’s best hockey players and personalities will gather in San Jose for the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. The NHL’s annual showcase will return to the Bay Area for the first time since 1997, when then-Sharks forward Owen Nolan famously called his shot on a breakaway against Buffalo’s Dominik Hasek.
Since then, the All-Star Game has evolved with the NHL. This year, the format will again be the four NHL divisions competing in three-on-three games, in which speed and quick transitions dictate the contests. Plus, you get an occasional two-pad stack to remind us that goalies are part of the weekend as well.
So with the holidays closing in and the All-Star Game around the corner, let’s take a look at which NHLers could be representing their team at the festivities in San Jose. And remember, every NHL team must have a representative at the game.
All-Star Game Voting & Captains
Voting is still underway for the All-Star Game captains. These players and their coaches will be the face of their division throughout the weekend. Before the polls close on December 23, be sure to cast your vote for the 2019 team captains.
- F Brayden Point – Tampa Bay Lightning
- F Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
- F Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs
- F David Pastrnak – Boston Bruins
- F Jack Eichel – Buffalo Sabres
- F Dylan Larkin – Detroit Red Wings
- D Morgan Rielly – Toronto Maple Leafs
- D Thomas Chabot – Ottawa Senators
- D Keith Yandle – Florida Panthers
- G Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
- G Frederik Andersen – Toronto Maple Leafs
Last year’s runner-up, the Atlantic Division, will look to get over the hump with some familiar faces leading the squad – Jack Eichel, Nikita Kucherov, and Carey Price just to name a few. Once again, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs boast strong teams and could send a few great players to San Jose, but not who you would expect.
Steven Stamkos and Auston Matthews bring the star power, but Brayden Point and Mitch Marner have been outstanding for their teams and deserve recognition. Their playmaking abilities and speed are perfect for the three-on-three All-Star Game format.
- F Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
- F Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
- F Taylor Hall – New Jersey Devils
- F Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
- F Sebastian Aho – Carolina Hurricanes
- F Anders Lee – New York Islanders
- D Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins
- D John Carlson – Washington Capitals
- D Seth Jones – Columbus Blue Jackets
- G Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
- G Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers
Oddly, the Metropolitan Division does not boast as many All-Star caliber goalies as in year’s past. Cory Schneider and Matt Murray have both missed time with injuries. The Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes have employed a handful of goalies and Sergei Bobrovsky just hasn’t been the same goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets this year. Only Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist stand out as “deserving” selections.
Up front, it’s more of the same, with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin leading the way. The Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho deserves to receive the nod as well after Noah Hanifin was chosen for last year’s game.
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- F Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche
- F Mikko Rantanen – Colorado Avalanche
- F Mark Scheifele – Winnipeg Jets
- F Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets
- F Ryan O’Reilly – St. Louis Blues
- F Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
- D Roman Josi – Nashville Predators
- D Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
- D Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
- G Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators
- G Ben Bishop – Dallas Stars
The Central Division can score. All three lines are lethal and should give the Pacific Division a run for its money as “best in the west.” Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, in particular, have figured in just about every goal the Colorado Avalanche have scored this season.
In net, Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop are perfect fits for the Central Division. Rinne has been a monster for the Nashville Predators and will likely contend for another Vezina Trophy by season’s end. The Dallas Stars’ Ben Bishop excels at stopping high-danger shots – just about the only type of shot he’ll face during the tournament.
- F Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
- F Elias Pettersson – Vancouver Canucks
- F Logan Couture – San Jose Sharks
- F Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
- F Anze Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings
- F Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
- D Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes
- D Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
- D Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames
- G Marc-Andre Fleury – Vegas Golden Knights
- G John Gibson – Anaheim Ducks
After Connor McDavid and Elias Pettersson combine for a dozen goals in the three-on-three tournament, expect the Pettersson-to-the Edmonton Oilers rumors to take off. That was the case last year in Tampa Bay, when Erik Karlsson formed quick chemistry with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
San Jose should also see a few of their hometown players join in on the festivities. Joe Pavelski could be flirting with 40 goals this season and Logan Couture is up there in scoring as well. Plus, you can’t have a colorful All-Star weekend without Brent Burns being himself.
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Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.