The 2019 NHL All-Star Game will begin on Jan. 25 with the All-Star Skills Competition and the game will take place the following day on Jan. 26 in San Jose. Since the inception of the three-on-three tournament in 2016, where four teams based on the league’s four divisions compete in a single-elimination tournament.
Calgary Flames whiz kid Johnny Gaudreau has been a stalwart in the tournament. He has participated in all three installments and should be part of the 11-man roster representing the Pacific Division yet again. He has been joined in the past by Flames defenceman Mark Giordano in 2016 and goaltender Mike Smith in 2018 and, with the Flames atop the division and near the top of the Western Conference, he’ll likely be joined by a teammate or two when the puck drops on Jan. 26.
Here’s a case for five other Flames who could be joining Gaudreau at the All-Star Game.
Mark Giordano – Defenceman
Flames captain Mark Giordano should be on the Pacific roster considering he’s among the early candidates for the Norris Trophy. Giordano is currently tied for third in the NHL among defencemen in scoring with six goals and 29 assists for 35 points in 35 games.
He is currently two points back of Ottawa Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot and nine points back of Toronto Maple Leaf Morgan Rielly. Giordano always seems to make a difference during crucial points of the game, such as shutting down the other team’s top line in the dying seconds of a game or putting his team in front with a goal. He has elevated the game of fellow defenceman T.J. Brodie and his plus-20 rating proves good things normally happen while he’s on the ice.
Sean Monahan – Forward
It’s fairly surprising that Sean Monahan has yet to make an appearance in the All-Star Game considering he has registered at least 20 goals in each of his six NHL seasons, including 21 tallies in 37 games this season to go along with 19 helpers. Playing alongside Gaudreau, the duo dominate three-on-three overtime and are one of the league’s best tandems.
Monahan has a franchise-high 10 overtime goals and has helped the Flames become among the league’s best in the new three-on-three format. The Flames sniper currently sits 12th in the NHL in goals and second in the division behind San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. Monahan should surpass his career-high of 31 goals and could even crack the 40-goal mark for the first time this season.
Matthew Tkachuk – Forward
Matthew Tkachuk is the engine that drives the Flames. While he doesn’t lead the team in goals or points, he has 16 goals and 42 points, third and second on the team, respectively. He does a little bit of everything well as his style may not fit the three-on-three format but his play this season has been undeniable.
While he doesn’t have the flashy playing style of Gaudreau or put the puck in the back of the net as well as Monahan, he might be the team’s most important and complete player next to Giordano. He scores big goals for the Flames at meaningful times while playing on a line with Mikael Backlund to form a shut down line with either Sam Bennett or Michael Frolik on the other side.
Tkachuk likely won’t take part in the All-Star Game due to roster restrictions and the fact that he isn’t the team’s most recognizable face. But that shouldn’t take anything away from the All-Star calibre season the 20-year-old is having.
Elias Lindholm – Forward
Elias Lindholm is having a career year in his first season with the Flames since being acquired in a trade at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He has already surpassed his previous career-high 16 goals in 44 fewer games after tallying his 17th of the season in a game against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 16. In total, he has 39 points on the season, just six back of his career-high.
Lindholm has been an outstanding fit as the third member of the Flames’ top line with Monahan and Gaudreau while also helping stabilize the team’s power play and penalty killing units. He brings speed, skill and smarts to the line, a combination that may have been lacking in the past when Michael Ferland or Jiri Hudler were lined up on the right side.
While some might be critical that Lindholm’s numbers are purely based off playing with two top players, this is simply not true. He played a lot of defensive minutes with the Carolina Hurricanes and has simply received a chance to prove that he can provide offence during his early stint with the Flames. Should he continue his pace, he’ll beat his previous best for points and could score 30 goals.
David Rittich – Goaltender
Goaltender David Rittich may seem like the most unlikely member of this list to participate in the All-Star Game, but it may not be as far-fetched as some may think. Not only does he have solid numbers with his 11-4-2 record, 2.29 goals against average and .923 save percentage, the Pacific Division is weak with goaltenders, mainly due to injury and inconsistent play.
John Gibson from Anaheim is surely a lock, but who else could earn an invite? Jonathan Quick is just getting back from injury and Antti Raanta is likely out for the season while Martin Jones and Jacob Markstrom have been far from spectacular so far this season. The race should come down to Rittich, Marc-Andre Fleury and Mikko Koskinen who has posted similar numbers to Rittich this season, for who will join Gibson as the second goaltender representing the Pacific Division.
All five players along with Gaudreau have played at an all-star calibre pace this year, which has played a big role in the early success the Flames have experienced so far this season. Should their play continue along with continued stellar play from their depth players, they’ll be in the thick of the playoff conversation come April.