Now that every team has played at least 28 games, we’ve surpassed the halfway mark of the NHL season. In most seasons, we’d be discussing all-star selections and snubs around this time. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 NHL All Star Game won’t be played this season.
However, that won’t stop me from speculating what the rosters may have looked like for this season. Abiding by past all-star game requirements (one captain from each division, two goalies and nine skaters, one player selected from each division), I’ve put together a list of what the rosters may have looked like – with a twist.
I’ll be applying the old rules to the COVID-19 realigned divisions as opposed to the former divisions (which the league will be returning to next season).
Here is, to the best of my abilities, a listing of the 2021 NHL All Stars.
2021 NHL All Stars: North Division
CAPTAIN: Connor McDavid
Having McDavid as a captain is a no-brainer. He’s the best player on the planet right now, with 21 goals and 39 assists in 34 games. In a full 82-game season, McDavid would be on pace for 145 points, the highest single-season total since Adam Oates scored 142 points (45 goals, 97 assists) for the Boston Bruins in 1992-93.
F – Leon Draisaitl (18 goals, 32 assists), Edmonton Oilers
F – Elias Lindholm (eight goals, 20 assists), Calgary Flames
F – Mitch Marner (12 goals, 28 assists), Toronto Maple Leafs
F – Auston Matthews (21 goals, 15 assists), Toronto Maple Leafs
F – Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F – Brady Tkachuk (11 goals, 11 assists), Ottawa Senators
D – Tyson Barrie (four goals, 26 assists), Edmonton Oilers
D – Quinn Hughes (two goals, 26 assists), Vancouver Canucks
D – Jeff Petry (11 goals, 16 assists), Montreal Canadiens
G – Connor Hellebuyck (13-9-2, 2.83 GAA, .911 save percentage), Winnipeg Jets
G – Mike Smith (11-3-0, 2.34 GAA, .922 save percentage, two shutouts), Edmonton Oilers
BIGGEST SNUB: Brock Boeser (16 goals, 16 assists), Vancouver Canucks
Boeser falls victim to a talented crop of forwards in the North Division, along with the requirement for each team to send at least one representative. However, he’s tied for sixth in the league in goals and should be in the Richard Trophy race for the league’s top goal-scorer until the end of the season.
2021 NHL All Stars: EAST DIVISION
CAPTAIN: Nicklas Backstrom
With some great leaders on this roster, Backstrom may not seem like the obvious choice. However, when the Capitals hit early season turmoil with injuries, suspensions, and COVID-19 protocols, Backstrom rose to the occasion.
With 12 goals and 22 assists this season, he’s led Washington to the top of the East Division standings, which is shaping up to be arguably the most competitive in the league this season.
F – Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
F – Sidney Crosby (11 goals, 20 assists), Pittsburgh Penguins
F – Jack Hughes (seven goals, nine assists), New Jersey Devils
F – Brad Marchand (12 goals, 22 assists), Boston Bruins
F – Artemi Panarin (eight goals, 17 assists), New York Rangers
F – Sam Reinhart (11 goals, eight assists), Buffalo Sabres
F – James van Riemsdyk (13 goals, 16 assists), Philadelphia Flyers
D – John Carlson (seven goals, 20 assists), Washington Capitals
D – Charlie McAvoy (three goals, 14 assists), Boston Bruins
G – Vitek Vaněček (13-5-3, 2.66 GAA, .911 save percentage, one shutout)
G – Semyon Varlamov (13-6-3, 2.17 GAA, .923 save percentage, three shutouts)
BIGGEST SNUB: Alexander Ovechkin (14 goals, 11 assists)
Like Boeser, Ovechkin falls victim to the “every team sends one” rule (which I hope the league gets rid of, but that’s a topic for another time). Missing time while in COVID-19 protocol hurts Ovechkin’s case as well, and it would be the first time he wasn’t an All-Star since 2013-14.
For that reason, there’s a chance he’d make it in over Backstrom, but, if only for this season, Backstrom is more deserving.
2021 NHL All Stars: CENTRAL DIVISION
CAPTAIN: Patrick Kane
While McDavid is the Hart Trophy (MVP) frontrunner, there’s a growing sense Kane will garner some of the voting attention. The battered Blackhawks are missing some of their biggest names.
Jonathan Toews has not played all season and has no timetable for return. Brent Seabrook’s injuries forced him into retirement. Kirby Dach is a few weeks away from returning after a wrist injury at World Juniors.
Despite that, Kane’s play has elevated that of linemate Alex DeBrincat, as well as rookies Pius Suter, Philipp Kurashev, and even goaltender Kevin Lankinen.
The Blackhawks are tied for the final playoff spot in the Central Division playoff picture, and if the Hawks go on a run, you can bet Kane is the one leading the charge.
F – Sebastian Aho (13 goals, 15 assists), Carolina Hurricanes
F – Aleksander Barkov (13 goals, 22 assists), Florida Panthers
F – Oliver Bjorkstrand (11 goals, 16 assists), Columbus Blue Jackets
F – Filip Forsberg (10 goals, 17 assists), Nashville Predators
F – Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F – Joe Pavelski (14 goals, 13 assists), Dallas Stars
D – Dougie Hamilton (three goals, 21 assists), Carolina Hurricanes
D – Filip Hronek (one goal, 17 assists), Detroit Red Wings
D – Victor Hedman (six goals, 26 assists), Tampa Bay Lightning
G – James Reimer (12-4-1, 2.68 GAA, .909 save percentage), Carolina Hurricanes
G – Andrei Vasilevskiy (20-3-1, 1.86 GAA, .933 save percentage, three shutouts), Tampa Bay Lightning
BIGGEST SNUB: Steven Stamkos (16 goals, 16 assists)
Stamkos was one of the toughest omissions from the list. He has been one of the best forwards on one of the best teams in the league for the past five seasons. On top of that, Stamkos is still producing great numbers this year, even with linemate Nikita Kucherov sidelined and recovering from offseason surgery.
But if you’ve picked up on the pattern, while Stamkos is more deserving than a few of the forwards on this list, the rule requiring each team to send a player means Stamkos is out in the cold.
2021 NHL All Stars: West Division
CAPTAIN: Mark Stone
The first full-time captain of the Vegas Golden Knights, Stone is having a remarkable season, both in the offensive and defensive zones. If award voting were held today, I’d expect Stone to be a Selke Trophy finalist as one of the league’s best defensive forwards.
He leads the league in takeaways/60 (3.79) and also has 10 goals and 25 assists this season.
What could hurt Stone’s Selke argument is that he is a winger, and a center almost always wins the award. The last winger to win the Selke was Jere Lehtinen in 2002-03. However, if there’s a winger capable of winning, Stone is the one on which to bet.
F – Kirill Kaprizov (10 goals, 15 assists), Minnesota Wild
F – Anze Kopitar (eight goals, 27 assists), Los Angeles Kings
F – Max Pacioretty (16 goals, 14 assists), Vegas Golden Knights
F – Mikko Rantanen (17 goals, 18 assists), Colorado Avalanche
F – Ryan O’Reilly (10 goals, 21 assists), St. Louis Blues
F – Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights
D – Brent Burns (five goals, 11 assists), San Jose Sharks
D – Jakob Chychrun (eight goals, 13 assists), Arizona Coyotes
D – Drew Doughty (seven goals, 18 assists), Los Angeles Kings
G – Marc-André Fleury (16-5-0, 1.87 GAA, .933 save percentage, four shutouts)
G – John Gibson (6-12-5, 3.11 GAA, .894 save percentage, three shutouts
BIGGEST SNUB: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
Beyond the roster limitations, Makar gets snubbed by virtue of an injury slowing him down. Makar missed 10 games with an upper body injury, which makes including him on the roster harder to justify.
However, there’s still an excellent chance Makar is in the Norris Trophy conversation at the end of the year.
Who did I miss that should’ve made the team? Which roster would win? Sound off on Twitter @MulletsVoxDB, and let me know what you think!