The 2022 NHL All-Star Game rosters were recently released and the Tampa Bay Lightning right now, will be sending goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and defenseman Victor Hedman to Las Vegas. This will be both Hedman and Vasilevskiy’s fourth appearance for Tampa in this game, with their last times being nominated back in 2020. The rest of the Atlantic Division team consists of the Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron, Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews and Jack Campbell, Buffalo Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin, Ottawa Senators’ Drake Batherson, Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau, Montreal Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki, and Detroit Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin.
With as much success as the Lightning have had in their current era of the franchise’s history and as much talent as they have rostered in the last number of seasons, it is not surprising the number of players who have represented the club at the All-Star Game (or how someone who does not get selected would be considered a top snub for the event). Let’s take a look back at some of the names who have donned the All-Star honor in the more recent seasons (2016-present).
The captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning (as of this article) has made six NHL All-Star appearances in his career. His last one was in 2019. He first received this honor back in 2011, which was back when the NHL had teams decided based on a draft that two players would choose. That year, it was between teams led by then-Carolina Hurricane Eric Staal and Detroit Red Wings Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. This was also remembered as the draft when forward Phil Kessel was picked last in the draft by Team Lidstrom. Stamkos was chosen by Lidstrom in the first round of the All-Star Draft. He ended up finishing the game with a goal.
Stamkos also represented the Bolts for the All-Star Game in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2018. He has proven time and time again why he gets nominated based on his offensive production (to the point where he even potted 60 goals back in 2011-12) and leadership. He helped the Lightning get to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, and was a key role in them winning back-to-back Cups in 2020 and 2021. He will have at least one if not multiple All-Star Game nominations in his future before he calls it a career.
Before there was Vasilevskiy, there was Ben Bishop being the backbone of Tampa between the pipes. Bishop was acquired by the Lightning from the Senators back during the 2012-13 NHL season. The trade was Bishop going to Tampa in exchange for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round pick in 2013 heading Ottawa’s way. Bishop, at that time, was joining the Lightning as his third team after not making it with both the St. Louis Blues or the Senators. This move to the state of Florida would be a great move for the netminder, as he became a solid number one for them and gained recognition for his ability throughout the league. As a result of this, he was nominated to an All-Star Game back in 2016 for the Bolts.
The 2016 All-Star Game was at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. This game had gained a lot of attention after fans around the NHL had pushed for veteran John Scott in their vote to make the game. After some controversy, he did play in the game and was named MVP of the event. On the Lightning side of the event, Bishop was joined by Stamkos as the two who represented the organization. The other goalies for the tournament were Roberto Luongo (Atlantic Division), Pekka Rinne and Devan Dubnyk (Central), Cory Schneider and Braden Holtby (Metropolitan), and Jonathan Quick and John Gibson (Pacific).
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Bishop remained a force in net for the Lightning until he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings during the 2016-17 season. He played out the remaining portion of that year with the Kings before signing and suiting up for the Dallas Stars for a few seasons. He officially retired from the league back in December 2021. Bishop is remembered for breaking out into the league with Tampa and helping lead the 2015 squad to the Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. He may not have won a Cup with the Lightning, but he helped pave the way for the championships not too long later based on his impact with his teammates including current starter Vasilevskiy. He is one of the best goalies the organization ever had.
That’s right, this is not just limited to players. Jon Cooper is no doubt one of the best head coaches in the entire league right now. He joined the Lightning after previous bench boss Guy Boucher was let go by the team back during the 2012-13 campaign. Since taking over, the Lightning have been built into a powerhouse, and he deserves so much credit for taking care of business on his end. He knows how to manage all of the talent he has, and puts them all in situations where they can succeed.
The Triplets Line is just one example of how Cooper at the time was able to get the best out of Nikita Kucherov (who has become one of the most skilled players in the entire NHL), Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat. The organization would not be currently chasing a three-peat if it was not for the contributions of Cooper as head coach. The players get the job done on the ice, but he is the mastermind on the bench helping orchestrate the whole thing.
Cooper gained recognition around the hockey world and was named a head coach for an All-Star Game twice. His first time was in 2018 when the event was held in Tampa. The Lightning were well represented overall for the Atlantic Division squad; as Kucherov, Brayden Point, Stamkos, and Vasilevskiy all made the team (Point replaced Hedman who was hurt at the time). The second time was the following year in 2019 at SAP Center in San Jose. Kucherov, Stamkos, and Vasilevskiy all made the team as well.
It shows how valuable they all are that they consistently keep making All-Star Game appearances. In Cooper’s case, to do it as a coach multiple times shows how he is one of the best minds behind the bench. If that was not enough evidence, the two Cup wins and a third appearance in 2015 show what he brings to the table.
What can be said about Nikita Kucherov that has not already by everyone? He is one of the most talented players in the hockey world. If the 2011 Draft was redone now, he is the top pick. It is weird to look back on how he was not even taken as a first-round selection then, officially being drafted by Tampa in the late part of the second round (58th overall). He shows time and time again how he can dominate on the ice and just take over a game.
He missed the entire 2020-21 campaign, came back for the playoffs, and notched two goals on the power play in his first game back against the Florida Panthers (as well as an assist). In that first game back, he looked like he had never left. That alone shows the star quality he has for the organization. If that is not enough though, the stats do not lie. Below is his production in the last number of seasons:
- 2016-17: 40 goals and 45 assists for 85 points in 74 games
- 2017-18: 39 goals and 61 assists for 100 points in 80 games
- 2018-19: 41 goals and 87 assists for 128 points in 82 games
- 2019-20: 33 goals and 52 assists for 85 points in 68 games
To no one’s surprise, his on-ice play earned him three All-Star appearances. He went three straight years in a row specifically. His first one was in 2017 when the game was in Los Angeles and followed it up with appearances in Tampa in 2018 and San Jose in 2019. If Kucherov was healthy this season, he probably would be joining both Hedman and Vasilevskiy when they go to Las Vegas for the All-Star Game this year.
In the first four games he has played in since returning from injury, he posted three goals (a hat trick versus the Sabres) and four assists for seven points. He will be key if the Lightning are going to skate away with the Stanley Cup for a third straight season. As for the All-Star Game, he should be a lock in the next few campaigns to make it, whether for the Atlantic Division or for another team if they change up the format.
At this stage in Point’s young career, he has only made one All-Star Game appearance, and it was in relief of Hedman in 2018 when he was injured. However, Point undoubtedly is going to be heading to more of these games in the future. He can be absolutely dangerous on the ice for Tampa and is one of their top producers, especially in the postseason. In the 2021 playoffs, he finished with 14 goals and nine assists for 23 points in 23 games. This included a nine-game goal streak. He also has put up the numbers that show he is one of the best the Lightning have to offer. Here are his regular-season totals since the 2017-18 campaign:
- 2017-18: 32 goals and 34 assists for 66 points in 82 games
- 2018-19: 41 goals and 51 assists for 92 points in 79 games
- 2019-20: 25 goals and 39 assists for 64 points in 66 games
- 2020-21: 23 goals and 25 assists for 48 points in 56 games
These contributions, along with the fact he was one of the most significant factors leading Tampa to two Cups, earned him a big payday. He inked a long-term contract with the Lightning for eight years, $76 million. He will not be going anywhere else any time soon. He keeps getting better and better at only age 25. He may only have one All-Star Game under his belt at this time, but it sure won’t be the last if he keeps playing the way that he has. It is undeniable he will be making another one of these games.
Victor Hedman & Andrei Vasilevskiy
Last, and certainly not least, are the two players who will be representing Tampa in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. For both talents, this game is not their first as previously mentioned. Vasilevskiy debuted for the event in 2018 when he went alongside Kucherov, Stamkos, Point, and Cooper. 2019 saw him return as Montreal goalie Carey Price was injured. His last appearance prior to this upcoming one in Las Vegas was in 2020 at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, when he replaced Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask who opted to miss the event. Hedman first appeared in an All-Star Game in 2017 and made it in 2018 and 2020 as well.
Vasilevskiy continues to shine as one of the best goalies in the world. He has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy multiple times now, having won the award in 2019. His domination in the crease has been on display for a while now, and it does not matter if it is the regular season or the playoffs. Speaking of the postseason, below are his stats in the two years they won the Cup:
- 2020 playoffs: 18 wins, 7 losses, 1.90 goals-against-average (GAA), .927 save percentage (Sv%), and 1 shutout in 25 games played
- 2021 playoffs: 16 wins, 7 losses, 1.90 GAA, .937 Sv%, and 5 shutouts in 23 games played
As dominant as Tampa is on offense and defense, they do not need to even worry about making any mistakes because if they do, Vasilevskiy bails them out. He is a future Hockey Hall of Famer and will probably be nominated for even more All-Star Games and Vezina Trophies to come.
Hedman as a defenseman won the Norris Trophy for being the best in his position in 2018. He is the face of the blueline for the Lightning who have so much skill between former New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and 23-year-old Mikhail Sergachev, who has not even hit his prime yet. Hedman can shut down some of the best opposing players, while also finding the scoresheet himself. Four of his best offensive regular-seasons are below:
- 2016-17: 16 goals and 56 assists for 72 points in 79 games
- 2017-18: 17 goals and 46 assists for 63 points in 77 games
- 2018-19: 12 goals and 42 assists for 54 points in 70 games
- 2019-20: 11 goals and 44 assists for 55 points in 66 games
Fans will see how Hedman and Vasilevskiy do when they take the ice for the Atlantic Division in Las Vegas for this season’s All-Star Game in February.
Overall, the Lightning have had a lot of skill in their lineups over the recent years. They have been able to bring in top-quality talent to represent their organization and the hockey world recognizes that when these players get selected to the All-Star Games. Tampa fans have a lot to be proud of as their team continues to be one of the best, and more honors will be bestowed upon these players on the current roster as the seasons go on and they keep getting better.
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I have been a hockey fan for most of my life, and have played the game myself for more than six years. I graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego in 2018, with a bachelor’s in Broadcasting & Mass Communication. Previous positions held include being a Sports Analyst for Oswego’s student-run TV station, WTOP-10; News/Sports Intern for WIVB-TV Channel 4; and Sports Beat Writer Intern for Pro Player Insiders.