We spend a lot of time talking about the annual All-Star snubs or how the league’s superstars never want to go, but what of the star players who have never been to the game?
It’s a surprisingly strong list of players who have never played in an All-Star Game. In fact, you could make a strong 3-on-3 team from each division completely comprised of players who have never played in an All-Star Game.
That’s what’s happening below.
There is a team for each division, entirely built out of players who’ve never played in an All-Star Game. Teams are constructed the same way as the All-Star Rosters for this season, with a minimum of one player per team (and even the Coyotes get a player here). The only difference for these rosters is that no player on an entry-level contract got a nod here. That’s because they haven’t been in the league long enough for their absences at All-Star Games to carry any real significance.
Close: Craig Anderson, Zach Bogosian, Valtteri Filppula, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, David Krejci, Niklas Kronwall, Nikita Kucherov, Brad Marchand, Willie Mitchell, Vladislav Namestnikov, Gustav Nyquist, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec, James van Riemsdyk, Kyle Turris.
The defensive depth in this group drops off quickly, but there’s a trio at the top that would be great for 3-on-3. There’s also a surprising number of young forwards out of their ELCs in the Atlantic, as well as two of the more surprising names at large in All-Star snubs: Max Pacioretty and Tuukka Rask.
The Atlantic also gets Mrazek, who has quietly worked his way into Vezina finalist territory. If we don’t need to get a player from every team in here David Krejci probably finds a way onto a roster or Gustav Nyquist.
Close: Trevor Daley, Michael Del Zotto, Mikhail Grabovski, Andy Greene, Travis Hamonic, Chris Kreider, Eddie Lack, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen, Matt Niskanen, Wayne Simmonds.
The Metropolitan’s forward group doesn’t have the superstars other groups have, which is ironic since it’s probably the division with the league’s most touted stars (Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Lundqvist, Tavares, Giroux).
This division probably gets a big boost, considering the roster, if we were including players on ELCs. Also watering down the talent pool is that there are a lot of players from the Metropolitan who are playing in their first All-Star Game this year, including Niklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kusnetsov, Brandon Saad, Justin Faulk, Ryan McDonagh, Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider.
Close: Francois Beauchemin, Patrik Berglund, Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Mattias Ekholm, Ales Hemsky, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Erik Johnson, Tyler Myers, Alex Pietrangelo, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Jason Zucker.
The biggest spot of strength in the Central is on the blue line. There are a lot of guys cut from the roster that would be great additions.
The forward group, outside of the six on the roster, is a little thinner. But the group on the roster is kind of amazing. That Koivu, Wheeler, Landeskog, Steen, Ladd and Little have never been in the game is maybe the most surprising group of six forwards of these four division.
Close: Dougie Hamilton, Jiri Hudler, Martin Jones, Milan Lucic, Paul Martin, David Perron, Karri Ramo, Sami Vatanen, Joel Ward.
The group of players left out of this division’s roster who are on ELCs is pretty impressive and foreshadows a dynamic future for this division. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jake Virtanen, Ben Hutton, Johnny Gaudreau (though he’s been an All-Star already), Sam Bennett, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi, Hampus Lindholm, Shea Theodore… there’s some serious talent coming up in this division.
* It’s worth noting that appearing in an All-Star Game is strictly defined. Both Koivu and Zetterberg were selected once, but did not play in the game. Wheeler was asked to fill-in this year when Jonathan Toews exited the game with an injury, but declined.
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Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.