2016 NHL All-Star Game

Dom Palombo, sports writer

The 2016 NHL All-Star Game will feature a new format consisting of 3-on-3 games between the best players of each division and take place Jan. 31, in Nashville, TN. Eleven players from each division were chosen through fan voting and NHL selection and will compete in 20-minute games between inner conference divisions (East: Atlantic vs. Metropolitan and West: Central vs. Pacific). The winning division from each conference will then play against one another to crown the top division in hockey and take home the $1 million prize. The NHL allowed fans to vote in one player from each division for yet another year, each of whom will be the captain for their division. Patrick Kane (Central), leads the NHL in points and is front runner for the MVP; Alexander Ovechkin (Metro), among League leaders in goals; Jaromir Jagr, leading scorer for the Florida Panthers; and John Scott (Pacific), enforcer and 6-foot-8 forward just recently traded to the Montreal Canadiens, will still represent the Pacific division after being voted captain by the fans. As a player already waived three times this season, with time spent down in the AHL with the Coyotes’ affiliate team, Scott will now play for the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate team. To be eligible to be an all-star, a player must be in the NHL at the all-star break, but in an announcement made by the NHL on Tuesday, Scott will be allowed to represent the Pacific division as the captain he was voted in as.

The remaining 40 players were chosen by the NHL, and filled out the four divisions’ rosters with an incredible amount of talent.

Eastern Conference: Team Atlantic

Eastern Conference: Team Metropolitan

Western Conference: Team Central

Western Conference: Team Pacific

 

With such a large talent pool there comes some omissions, and this season’s All-Star Game was no different. Numerous snubs can be found in the Central division, and across all the divisions for multiple reasons. The NHL must award each team an All-Star, even though that takes away a spot from a more deserving player. Also, because the All-Star Game takes place in Nashville, the league felt compelled to put in more Predators players than were deserving, a very telling case of just that is how Pekka Rinne was picked over Corey Crawford, who’s stats don’t compare whatsoever to Crawford and his Vezina-worthy season (award for best goalie). And last, because of the new roster restrictions, the Central division for example, which has many top players, receives the same amount of representatives as a weaker division such as the Pacific.

Top 10 Snubs:

  • Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks goalie.
  • Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman.
  • Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators forward.
  • John Klingberg, Dallas Stars defenseman.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals forward.
  • Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks forward.
  • Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars forward.
  • Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues defenseman.
  • Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild defenseman.
  • Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets forward.

Scott’s inclusion and the exclusion of others will be a topic of conversation for all the weeks leading up. Numerous hockey personalities expressed their frustration for the top vote getter, including Predators General Manager David Poile and former player Jeremy Roenick, who is now an analyst for NBC Sports. Though Scott’s skill set is sub-par in the large scheme of things, the game should be allow people to sit back and enjoy the best players in the world make the new format to the All-Star Game fun to watch for the players and fans alike.

 

Prediction: Team Central takes home the title against Team Metropolitan because it has four of the top ten scorers in the NHL on its 11-man squad.
Additional notes: The NHL is reportedly planning to change the All-Star voting system next season, according to Elliotte Friedman, hockey reporter for Sportsnet in Canada. The move is to ensure a John Scott-type player does not become an All-Star by potentially taking away some power from the fans. At the moment, the act of the Canadiens simply placing Scott in the AHL was thought to have done the trick, but Scott will be honored for the vote.