The NHL All-Star weekend is a fun time for players in the league, and the same rules can often apply for team writers – something I thought I’d take advantage of.
35-year-old Daniel Sedin is the lone Vancouver Canucks player who is an All-Star this year. It’s the third time Daniel has been voted into the game; he’s one of 17 all-time Canucks forwards to be nominated, and one of 31 all-time Canucks overall.
And where would Daniel fit in on a team comprised of the 31 all-stars in Canucks history?
Some of the more valuable players in team history never were named all-stars in Vancouver, and some players who would almost be afterthoughts have dawned Canucks colors at the midseason classic. To name a few, any of Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa or Christian Ehrhoff have had more impressive seasons than the likes of Tracy Pratt, Jocelyn Guevremont or Lars Lindgren – some of the team’s earliest representatives.
So I sorted out the four forward lines, three defense pairings and goalie combination of the best Canucks’ all-stars in team history, leaving the rest as honorable mentions. For my lineup, players who have participated in the most All-Star Games as a member of the Canucks tend to be higher up the roster. However, there are some exceptions, based on just how good or not-as-good some of their All-Star seasons were.
Line 1: Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Pavel Bure
Could you imagine if this line ever came to be? The hall-of-famer Pavel Bure could score all on his own; having the two top scorers in Canucks history next to him would just be silly.
This trio has collectively represented Vancouver 10 times at the NHL All-Star Game. Bure is the only Canucks player to ever to score 60 goals in a season, something he did twice. Daniel and Henrik Sedin, meanwhile, are the only Canucks players who have won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s scoring leader. Good luck line matching here.
Line 2: Markus Naslund – Trevor Linden – Todd Bertuzzi
This line features two-thirds of the renowned West Coast Express line, minus Brendan Morrison – but Trevor Linden isn’t a half-bad fill in. No player has been named an All-Star as a Canuck more times than Markus Naslund, who did five times over the course of his career. Linden spent parts of 16 seasons with the Canucks, and twice represented Vancouver as an All-Star in 1991 and 1992. Todd Bertuzzi did the same in 2003 and 2004, during his hay-day as an elite power forward in the league on a line with Naslund and Morrison.
Line 3: Greg Adams – Mark Messier – Alexander Mogilny
Greg Adams was an all-star in 1988, his first year as a Canuck, when he posted 36 goals and 40 assists, totals that were good for career-highs. Alexander Mogilny represented the Canucks in 1996, and scored 55 goals in what was similarly his first year with the team. He and Bure are the only Canuck players to score more than 50 goals in a season.
For Messier, meanwhile, it certainly looks strange seeing him on a third line anywhere. Messier was an All-Star twice in his three years with Vancouver, but his numbers were no where close to his career-bests, and his nominations came on dismal Canucks teams that were in a transition period. Still a third line I’d gladly take on my team.
Line 4: Tiger Williams – Ryan Kesler – Radim Vrbata
Yes, Tiger Williams was once an All-Star in a Canucks sweater, and his All-Star season in 1980-81 truly was one. Williams racked up career-highs of 35 goals and 62 points that year, as well as 343 penalty minutes. Even a lineup full of stars like this, one needs a tough guy.
Ryan Kesler’s All-Star season in 2010-11 saw him score a career-high 41 goals as well as 32 assists, take home the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward and be a major reason why the Canucks came one game from winning the Stanley Cup that season. The only question is where that Kesler disappeared to – perhaps a story for another day. Radim Vrbata, meanwhile, represented the Canucks in 2015, a year that saw him score 31 goals and a career-best 32 assists and 63 points.
Honorable Mentions (Voted in When?):
Darcy Rota (1984), Tony Tanti (1986), Thomas Gradin (1985), Dennis Vervegaert (1976, 1978), Bobby Schmautz (1973, 1974).
Line 1: Alexander Edler – Ed Jovanovski
For arguments sake, there would be a lot of risk-taking on the ice if Alex Edler and Ed Jovanovski ever were linemates, but it’s a risk I’d pay to watch. Jovo played in three All-Star Games, something no other Canucks blueliner has done. He had at least 46 points in his three consecutive All-star Seasons. Edler, meanwhile, has been one of the best point-producing Canucks defensemen since Ehrhoff departed after 2010-11. Edler had career-highs of 11 goals, 38 assists and 49 points in his All-Star campaign in 2011-12.
Line 2: Dale Tallon – Paul Reinhart
Dale Tallon was the first ever NHL draft pick by Vancouver (2nd overall – 1970), and the inaugural All-Star for the Canucks. He represented the Canucks in his first two NHL seasons, and totaled 31 goals and 100 points in those two years with the club. You could possibly call the offensive-defenseman Tallon the best of what were very poor Canucks teams in their early years.
Paul Reinhart was an All-Star for the Canucks in 1989, his first of two seasons in Vancouver. Like Tallon, Reinhart was an offensive-minded blueliner, who even played forward at times in his career for that reason. He retired following the 1989-90 season with Vancouver, but his NHL legacy lives on thanks to his three sons: Max, Griffin and Sam Reinhart. Not a bad parenting job on his end.
Line 3: Harold Snepsts – Kevin McCarthy
The big, defensive-minded Harold Snepsts next to the smaller, more offensive Kevin McCarthy was a solid combination on the Canucks for parts of four seasons – yes, this duo in this All-Star lineup really did exist in Vancouver.
McCarthy was a one-time All-Star for Vancouver in 1981, and had a career offensive season with 16 goals and 37 assists – which both were career highs.
Snepsts was an All-Star in 1977 and again in 1982, the first season the Canucks appeared in the Stanley Cup Final. Not known for putting up points, Snepsts was an original stay-at-home defenseman, and the bruiser totaled 149 and 153 penalty minutes in his respective All-Star seasons.
With Snepsts and Williams in this lineup, I get the feeling teams would have a harder time stopping the Sedin twins, Naslund, Bure or any other superstar in this lineup.
Mattias Ohlund (1999), Lars Lindgren (1980), Jocelyn Guevrement (1974), Tracy Pratt (1975).
Starter: Roberto Luongo
It’s hard to argue that the two-time Canucks All-Star and most winning goalie in franchise history wouldn’t start on the all-time team. Luongo represented the Canucks in 2007, his first year with the team, where he set a franchise record with 47 wins and finished second in voting for all of the Vezina, Lester B. Pearson and Hart Trophy awards. He was named an All-Star once again two seasons later for Vancouver.
Backup: Kirk McLean
Don’t look now but with the two most established goalies in Canucks history as a one-two punch in this lineup, there’s potential here for another goalie controversy in Vancouver. McLean was an All-Star for the Canucks in 1990 and again in 1992. McLean and Luongo are the only Canucks goalies to be named All-Stars on multiple occasions. Like Bobby Lu, McLean was instrumental to helping the Canucks to years of success in a his era as the team’s starter.
Gary Smith (1975), John Garrett (1983).