Sure, the Central Division dominated the 2015 NHL All-Star Game ballot in the fan vote, but the Blackhawks took five of the top six roster spots. In this edition of “Know Your NHL All-Stars,” let’s focus on the other, equally skilled Central Division players invited to the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend.
Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
As the NHL’s leading goal scorer, there’s no surprise Tyler Seguin received an invite to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. Seguin is currently tied for first in goals with 28, and second in points with 52 in 46 games.
In his first season with the Dallas Stars, Seguin topped his previous professional scoring records. In 2014-2015, he’s on pace for a even better performance.
Fun Fact: Tyler Seguin often wears other players’ gloves. Most notably, he donned Rich Peverley’s gloves at an informal practice, taking his injured teammate onto the ice in a small, yet significant way.
Tyler Seguin wearing Rich Peverleys gloves today at informal skate pic.twitter.com/5uFqqauzfQ
— TylerSeguinProblems (@SeguinProblems) September 5, 2014
Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
In his third season with the St. Louis Blues, Tarasenko is having a career year. Tarasenko exceeded his previous scoring with 24 goals and 23 assists in 46 games. His 2013-14 stats reflected 21 goals and 22 assists in 64 total games during his sophomore season.
Not only is Tarasenko upping the ante in the goal scoring department, but his goals are beauties. Over the past three seasons, Tarasenko’s shooting percentage is increasing. Over the past three seasons, the right wing recorded a 10.7%, 15.4%, and a range of 15-16% shooting percentage in 2014-15. Tarasenko nearly doubled his total shots since his rookie season, achieving 75 SOG in 38 games through 2012-13, and 161 SOG in 46 games in 2014-15.
Fun Fact: The Flippist made a flip book of Vladimir Tarasenko’s one-handed goal on Henrik Lundqvist.
Erik Johnson – Colorado Avalanche
Defenseman, Erik Johnson, is in his fifth season with the Avalanche. Acquired in a 2011 trade with the Blues, Johnson is also having a career year with the struggling Avalanche. In 46 games, the blue liner posted 12 goals (including three power play goals, and two game winners) and 11 assists for a combined 23 points on the season. Johnson is currently the team’s leading defensive goal scorer with a 10.5 shooting percentage. This percentage is up 4.8% from his career high, 5.7 Sh%.
Johnson is also a former Olympic silver medalist, scoring one goal for the U.S. in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In the 2013 IIHF World Championship, Johnson also posted two goals and two assists in 10 games to help Team USA win bronze.
Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
The only Wild player to make the NHL All-Star Game roster, Ryan Suter also played for the U.S. in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In his third season with Minnesota, Suter has one goal and 24 assists in 42 games. His shooting percentage is unusually low at 1.1%, seeing as he averages 4.4 Sh% across his career. Suter currently holds the highest average time on ice in the league with 29:37 per game as he rejoins the action following a two-game suspension.
Fun Fact: Ryan Suter took his dad’s 1980 Olympic gold medal to school every year for show-and-tell. Not recognizing the medal’s significance, he often left it in his locker for days or weeks at a time.
Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
Shea Weber has the scariest shot in the NHL and plays a solid defensive game for the dark horse playoff contender, Nashville Predators. Weber represented Canada in both the 2010 and 2014 winter Olympics, scoring six points in seven games in Vancouver, and six points in six games in Sochi.
Weber now has 10 goals and 20 assists in 45 games this season. In 10 seasons with the Predators, Weber is on pace for one of the best seasons of his career. Currently, Weber holds an 8.0 Sh%, close to his career average of 8.1%.
Fun Fact: Shea Weber’s slap shot is so powerful that it put a hole in the boards during a Predators practice in August. During the 2012 NHL All-Star Skills Competition, Weber’s shooting speed of 106 mph ranked second, only outdone by Zdeno Chara.
Kevin Shattenkirk – St. Louis Blues
Another veteran of the U.S. Olympics, Kevin Shattenkirk has eight goals and 31 assists in 46 games with St. Louis this season. Half of those eight goals are power play goals, proving Shattenkirk as an offensive threat on the man-advantage. In his last All-Star appearance in 2011, the Blues defenseman participated as a rookie on Team Lidstrom.
Fun Fact: When Kevin Shattenkirk learned of his former youth hockey coach, Chad Dlugolecki’s battle with leukemia, he joined his childhood community in lending support. Due to donations and promotion from Dlugolecki’s former players, the GoFundMe.com site set up in his honor raised $32,000 in just 15 days.
Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
Dustin Byfuglien is getting a second opportunity to play in the NHL All-Star Game after missing 2012 due to injury. In 2011, Byfuglien represented the Atlanta Thrashers, defeating Rick Nash with a 102.4 mph shot in the XM NHL Hardest Shot competition. Byfuglien went on to score the second goal in Team Lidstrom’s 11-10 win over Team Staal.
The following season, the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg to become the Jets, where Byfuglien played for the last four seasons. In 47 games, the defenseman has 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 total points and an 8.2 shooting percentage.
Fun Fact: Dustin Byfuglien’s name is perplexing to both English and Norwegian speakers. In fact, the correct Norwegian pronunciation should be closer to “BEE-foog-LEE-an,” rather than “BUF-lin,” as NHL fans know him.
Injured: Pekka Rinne – Nashville Predators
Just after the NHL named him to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game roster, Predators goaltender, Pekka Rinne sprained his knee in a 5-1 win over Vancouver. The Finnish net minder had just returned for a phenomenal 2014-15 season after missing time to a hip injury and surgery.
In 37 games this season, Rinne maintained a .931 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average across 29 wins and six losses. Rinne still holds the league’s second best goals against average and third best save percentage in 2014-15.
Central Division Defines the NHL All-Star Game
While five Chicago Blackhawks took the top roster spots in the fan vote, other Central Division players will prove just as integral to the game. These players are having career years statistically, but also have the hardest shots, biggest hits, most ice time, and the most goals in the league.
When you tune in or sign in to watch the 2015 NHL All-Star Game at 5:00pm ET on Sunday, January 25th, be sure to keep an eye on each of these seven Central Division stars.
Tabatha is passionate about hockey history, and the Dallas Stars’ ever-improving farm system. Growing the game in North Texas is her goal.
Discuss hot topics in hockey with her on Twitter via @tabatha_mp.