2012 NHL ALL-STAR GAME ROSTER
THE FAN SELECTIONS
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators: Sure, he didn’t deserve to be voted into the game based on his 2011-12 numbers, but his appearance in an All-Star Game in Ottawa is as natural as water freezing on the Rideau Canal. Even if he wasn’t elected by the fans, it’s hard to fathom the NHL allowing the game to be played here with him on the sidelines. For those expecting this season to be a drawn out retirement party for the 39-year-old, who will be playing in his sixth All-Star game, Alfredsson has proven he can still be an impact player.
Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators: The love-hate relationship Senators fans have always had for the talented, but mistake-prone, centre is now firmly back on the positive side. We’ll never know for sure because of the fan vote, but Spezza probably would have made the All-Star cut based on his strong first-half numbers, anyway. Somewhat surprisingly, it will be only the second time he’s played in the mid-season contest. In addition to his statistics, Spezza has taken on more of a leadership role for the Senators, helping the team’s newcomers adjust to life in the NHL.
Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators: Clearly, he was the biggest surprise among the players voted into the game, but that last day rush to the ballot box by Senators fans allowed him to bypass Toronto’s Phil Kessel for the third forward spot and a clean sweep of the forward spots by Senators players. While Michalek did, at one point, lead the NHL in goals, the concussion he suffered before Christmas slowed him down a bit. Based strictly on goal scoring numbers, Steve Stamkos, Marian Gaborik or Kessel deserved the starting nod ahead of him, but his presence here sure is fun for the Dany Heatley haters.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: The biggest surprise isn’t that Karlsson made the grade – he deserved it based on his numbers – but that he received more votes than Alfredsson. It says something about the demographics of those stuffing the ballot box that the 21-year-old finished ahead of the guy who he lived with at the start of his career. It’s hard to find another player whose skill set is more suited for a wide open, who-cares-about-defence All-Star Game. The only thing bigger than the statistics he has already posted is the contract he will receive to stay in Ottawa.
Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs: In a Sports Illustrated poll of players published earlier this month, he was ranked as the NHL’s most overrated player. Ouch. He may never become the dominating player he was projected to be coming out of junior, but he has been rock solid this season, leading the Leafs in ice time, playing on the top unit of both the power play and penalty killing teams. The two questions for non-hockey celebrity hounds: is he still dating Elisha Cuthbert? And if so, will she be here?
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins: Ho, hum, another season where Tim Thomas is in contention for the Vezina Trophy. The feel good story of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals is doing it all over again. So much for the fans who believed winning one Stanley Cup would be enough for the 37-year-old and that he would start to show his age and let in the odd weak goal. Who knows? If he keeps this up, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli might have to consider re-signing Thomas when his contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 season.
THE NHL SELECTIONS
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: Can’t distinguish between the identical Sedin twins? This one is a centre, wears number 33 and is the better playmaker of the two brothers. Once again, he has been at the top of scoring race all season long and was an easy selection.
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: The younger of the two – by six minutes – he dons number 22 and is the better finisher, often on the receiving end of his brother’s passes. It has been said often before, but the on-ice chemistry between the two is astounding.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: He’s the reason the Flyers felt comfortable trading away Mike Richards in the summer. Loads of skill. It’s pretty much a home game for him, too. Giroux grew up in Orleans and was a star with the Gatineau Olympiques.
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: He’s here for his great speed and better hands. The All-Star experience figures to be a lot more fun this time around, unless, of course, he’s picked last again in the fantasy draft selection. Now, that would be funny.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: Terribly disappointing season for the Lightning, but Stamkos keeps filling the net. During a 12-game stretch between mid-December and mid-January, he scored 13 goals and four assists. He owns the best shot in the league.
Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs: Got to give credit to Leafs GM Brian Burke. Lupul came to Toronto, along with surprising rookie defenceman Jake Gardiner, in a trade for Francois Beauchemin. Lupul has new life, playing in the centre of the hockey universe.
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: Without injured centres Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal, Malkin has had to carry the load for the injury-plagued Penguins. Despite the checking attention, he remains at the top of the league in points per game.
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks: After a four-year absence from the game, the former Senator returns for a fifth All-Star appearance, has been pivotal to the explosive Blackhawks offence. He’s still delivering sound defensive play, as well.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago’s captain is a legitimate candidate for the Hart Trophy as the league MVP. Unlike most players, Toews has produced more on the road than at home.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Ovechkin is one of the NHL’s biggest marketing stars, which helps explain why he’s here and not linemate Niklas Backstrom, who is having a better season. Terrible start to the season for Ovechkin.
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars: Playing out of the spotlight in Dallas, he’s starting to look like quite the shrewd fifth-round draft selection. Benn earned first star of the week honours in early January, registering three consecutive multi-point games.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: The nostalgic fans among us wanted to see Teemu Selanne here, maybe as a captain. Selanne begged off, which opened the door for the pesky Perry, a former Hart Trophy winner as league MVP.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks’ other Patrick – as in Sharp – is arguably having a better season, but Kane carries the notoriety as a top draft pick and from scoring the Stanley Cup game winning goal two years ago.
Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins: Seguin gets the nod over Patrice Bergeron as the Bruins’ forward representative, but both are having outstanding seasons. The fact that Seguin and Kessel are both here is intriuging, given they were essentially traded for each other.
Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres: There has been no shortage of disappointments and injuries for the Sabres this season, but Pominville has been a steady producer, especially on home ice.
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames: Mr. Everything for the Flames hit the 500-goal mark earlier this month. The real drama surrounding him will come in the next couple of months when speculation heats up about the possibility of being traded.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings: The three-time Frank Selke Trophy winner as best defensive forward keeps on producing, doesn’t he? He remains a point per game player, while being matched up against the best opponents can offer.
Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers: He has long been regarded as one of the NHL’s most selfish players, but when you fill the net the way he has this season, he deserves to be included in the star-studded lineup.
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild: He’s a border line All-Star for sure, but would fans be happier to see Dany Heatley here? The Wild sport a cast of largely anonymous players and Koivu won out among that group.
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton is arguably having a better season, but the honour will mean more to Couture, the former Ottawa 67′s star who has become a vital part of the Sharks success. He earned his way to the NHL with hard work.
John Tavares, New York Islanders: Considering that the Islanders started the season scoring about once a week, Tavares’s point production has been quite remarkable.
Brian Campbell, Florida Panthers: It’s amazing what quality ice time will do, isn’t it? Stuck playing behind Dustin Keith and Brent Seabrook in Chicago, the former Ottawa 67′s star couldn’t find his groove. With the Panthers, he’s the quarterback. It’s showing in his numbers.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators: How many All-Star games do you figure he’ll play in before he’s done? Now 26, he’s now playing in his fourth. Despite being one of the game’s best all around defencemen year after year, he remains underrated because he plays in Nashville.
Alexander Edler, Vancouver Canucks: Quite frankly, the NHL could have chosen either Edler or Kevin Bieksa and they wouldn’t have been wrong on either front. One of the Canucks strengths is their balance on defence and both Edler and Bieksa are well rounded.
Dennis Wideman, Washington Capitals: Whether it’s in St. Louis, Boston, Florida or Washington, Wideman does one thing especially well – he produces on the power play. He’s at it again this season, even with the Capitals not tearing up the league offensively.
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins: Just think about it. The New York Islanders traded him, and a second overall draft pick (Jason Spezza) to the Senators for Alexei Yashin, a decade ago. Nice deal. He’s now playing in his sixth All-Star Game and is the league’s most dominating player.
Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators: Yet another solid, steady, but generally unheralded season. Good times now for Predators. But can Nashville afford to keep both Suter, a pending unrestricted free agent, and Shea Weber when the season ends?
Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes: Like Weber and Suter, he’s another star defenceman who receives little fanfare because he plays far out of the spotlight, in the desert. Now, if the franchise ever moved to Quebec City, Yandle would finally get his due.
Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers: With Chris Pronger gone for the season, the 36-year-old veteran has become even more important for the Flyers in their quest to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup.
Dan Girardi, New York Rangers: Good on the NHL for recognizing a defenceman for playing sound defence. He’s not an offensive dynamo, but he’s the top shutdown defenceman for a Rangers team which is stingier than Scrooge at Christmas.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets: He may not top the 53 points he scored a year ago in Atlanta, but he’s still posting big numbers – and we’re not talking about his weight. The Jets will need him to produce to make a run at the playoffs.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: All good things come to those who wait. Howard, now 27, has bided his time in the organization, but is finally where he wants to be. Note for local fans: Howard grew up in Ogdensburg and played Jr. B hockey in Westport.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Can we call this Chicken Soup for the Montreal Canadiens’ Goaltender’s Soul? Price has been as good as can be expected in a season where everything has spun out of control for the Canadiens and their fans – both English and French-speaking.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers: There’s a reason they call him King Henrik. He’s well on his way to winning 30 games for his seventh consecutive season. Of course, he’s also the only netminder to have won 30 in his first six years. His play alone makes the Rangers legitimate Cup contenders.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Could a star netminder be blessed with a better last name? The Kings have already replaced a coach and haven’t scored much, but they’re in contention for a playoff spot because they don’t allow many goals, either.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues: Sure, Elliott is sharing time in goal with Jaroslav Halak, but he’s still one of best comeback stories of the year following his struggles with the Senators last season. Will Ottawa fans boo or cheer him?
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers: It’s hard to believe that many thought he may not be ready to step directly into the NHL. Unfortunately, his great first season has been sidetracked by his left shoulder injury.
Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils: There’s plenty to like about the Devils surprising 21-year-old, including his defensive awareness and the fact he’s more productive away from home than he is in New Jersey. Great third round pick by the Devils.
Craig Smith, Nashville Predators: Yet another strong sleeper pick by Nashville, chosen 98th overall in 2009. Smith has stepped directly into the big leagues after spending two seasons at the University of Wisconsin.
Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers: Senators fans should be familiar with this guy, who has scored six points in three games against Ottawa. He took his time to the big leagues, playing five years of college in Bimidji.
Cody Hodgson, Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have been waiting for the breakout year from their 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft and it appears to have arrived this season.
Colin Greening, Ottawa Senators: Yes, he is a rookie, technically. The Senators 25 year old power winger, who has spent most of the season on a line with Jason Spezza, played only 24 NHL games last season – one shy of the maximum to qualify for rookie status.
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: He’s got all the tools to be an outstanding power forward for years, if not more than a decade. He’s living up to his billing as the second overall pick last summer. He only turned 19 in November.
Luke Adam, Buffalo Sabres: He has the size and the ability to be a solid power forward in the NHL and has been impressive, despite the Sabres struggles.
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers couldn’t be happier that he slipped and slipped in the 2011 draft. He looks at home in the Flyers lineup most nights, despite having just turned 20.
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes: Yes, the Senators Jared Cowen has far better numbers, but Faulk’s minus 13 needs some explanation. He plays more than 22 minutes per night for a terrible team. It’s a surprise his plus/minus isn’t worse.
Adam Larsson, New Jersey Devils: He’s quiet and doesn’t particularly like the limelight, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello marvels about Larsson’s maturity. There isn’t anything too flashy about his game, but he should develop into a top defenceman.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets: He could end of being a rare breed – a Blue Jackets first round draft pick who becomes an impact player. Johansen, selected fourth overall in the 2010 draft, has had some good moments in another long Columbus season.