You have to give the NHL some credit. This incarnation of the All-Star game, with the teams being selected by captains rather than by conference, is at least somewhat exciting. Sure, we still have the “all 30 teams will be represented” aspect of it, but some teams have only a rookie representing them, so players from each team won’t actually take part in the game. It’s not perfect, but it’s somewhat closer to a game filled with “all stars” than it has been in past years.
Of course, like with every selection process, there are always people who feel snubbed. This year is no different. As Sean Tomlinson mentioned earlier, this year’s All-Star teams will have several new faces, which means that some perennial All-Stars and other deserving players failed to make the cut this year.
So who didn’t make it? And why not?
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
Zetterberg currently sits seventh in NHL scoring with 49 points but, for some reason, he didn’t make the cut for the All-Star Game. To make matters worse, only one member of the Detroit Red Wings – Nicklas Lidstrom – made the team, so it’s not like the league didn’t have the room for any additional Wings. Of course, it would be tough to remove anyone from the team in order to make room for Zetterberg, but his exclusion is strange. You have to wonder if the lack of Red Wings on the roster has anything to do with Pavel Datsyuk and Lidstrom skipping the game in 2009. The NHL wasn’t too happy about that, but it seems a little unlikely that the league would hold a grudge for two years.
However, the fact that Zetterberg and Datsyuk are the two highest scorers to be excluded from the game seems strange, but the position they play may have been more of a factor into why they were cut than the team they play for.
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
The next highest scorer to miss the All-Star cut is Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom. The likely rationale for this one is that Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green are representing the Capitals. Backstrom is primarily a center (much like Zetterberg and Datsyuk) and there are a lot of talented centers in the league. It seems like he was cut because of his position, which would make sense in the case of Datsyuk and Zetterberg as well. The fact that there are already two Capitals on the team made it even easier to exclude Backstrom.
Martin Havlat, Minnesota Wild
Havlat sits right behind Backstrom in scoring. Only one member of the Wild made the cut, Brent Burns, so Havlat could have been included. However, Burns plays defense and the NHL likely took the opportunity to choose a defenseman at the expense of a forward. It makes sense, especially with all of the talented forwards in the game.
Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim Ducks
Visnovsky currently sits fifth in scoring among defensemen. However, he appears to be another victim of circumstance. Ducks teammates Corey Perry and Jonas Hiller were both selected to the game, so there simply wasn’t room for Visnovsky.
Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings
Johnson is right behind Visnovsky in scoring and he just signed a shiny new contract extension. He’s having a career year, but that isn’t good enough to make the All-Star Game. The Kings’ representative in the game is Anze Kopitar, who is an excellent choice, but Johnson would have fit into the game quite well also. It looks like there weren’t enough roster spots to give Johnson an opportunity.
Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes
The Coyotes don’t actually have a representative in the actual All-Star Game. They will be represented in the skills competition by rookie Oliver Ekman-Larsson, but they won’t have anyone in the actual game. While it’s understandable that there are only so many spots on defense available, Yandle sits seventh in scoring so excluding him – and the entire Coyotes franchise – from the game is noteworthy.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Philadelphia Flyers
Bobrovsky is having quite the year for the Philadelphia Flyers. The fact that only one Flyer (Claude Giroux) made the roster makes it a little confusing that Bobrovsky was left off of the team. However, the fact that there is only room for six goaltenders is likely the reason he was left off. It’s too bad there isn’t a “rookie goaltender” option for the skills competition like there is for skaters.
Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta Thrashers
Pavelec currently sits ninth in goals against average and second in save percentage. He’s having an excellent season for the Atlanta Thrashers and it would have been nice to see him make the team. However, with both Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom on the roster, there just wasn’t any room for additional Thrashers.
Of course, there are only so many spots on the roster so cuts have to be made. Not everyone who is deserving of being an called an All-Star made the cut, but overall the league did a decent job with the picks.
Who do you think should have made the roster? And who would have been cut to make room?