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Write-in votes powering Letang, Price to top spots

Tuesday, 12.07.2010 / 2:42 PM / 2011 NHL All-Star Game - Presented by Discover

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Write-in votes powering Letang, Price to top spots
Smart NHL fans have watched the games and know who is most deserving of All-Star consideration -- and they don't necessarily have to be on the All-Star ballot to garner their votes.
The voices of NHL fans across the world continue to be heard, as they have used their own choice in many cases to determine just what players are worthy of All-Star consideration.

Of the more than 8.36 million votes so far, an enormous amount have been cast for players not listed on the original 100-person ballot. In fact, two of the top three vote-getters after three weeks of voting are write-in candidates.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang rocketed from fourth among defenseman last week to first, and second among all vote-getters with 210,807. That's a 95,000-vote jump in the span of a week -- not that Letang doesn't deserve it.

He's firmly entrenched himself as the No. 1 defenseman in Pittsburgh. His 21 assists are tied for the lead among all blueliners, and his 26 points are second. He also has 5 goals and a plus-15 rating, both of which rank him in the top five at his position. He's also playing an average of 22:56 per game, a 90-second increase from last season.

"He's putting it all together," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told reporters recently. "Kris is a guy who's always had the talent, the skating, the bite to his game. He's just 23 years old, and now we're seeing the package."

Fans certainly thought so, as they jumped him past future Hall of Famers Chris Pronger and Nicklas Lidstrom and defending Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith.

Following Letang on the overall vote lead is Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who leads his position and is third overall with 209,025 votes. Price wasn't on the original ballot, but with a 40,000-vote lead on Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, he's turned the race into a runaway.

Bobrovsky may be a distant second in goalie voting, but he's a hit with the fans, who have written his name on the ballot 169,680 times, including nearly 53,000 times this past week.

Bobrovsky's teammate, Claude Giroux, is the write-in leader at forward. Ranking ninth at the position with 147,993 votes, Giroux has more votes than established All-Stars like Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Briere and Marian Hossa.

Tomas Plekanec leads the Canadiens in goals, assists and points -- and fan balloting among the team's forwards. His 131,799 write-in votes rank him 12th among forwards, and are more than 20,000 more than teammate and team captain Brian Gionta, who ranks two spots behind him in balloting.

"It's a pleasure to coach Tomas Plekanec," coach Jacques Martin said recently. "He's a great person, he's committed. He's always first at the rink, he prepares properly. He's giving us some strong hockey. A lot of times he'll play against the opposition's top line and he's not a selfish player. He plays on the penalty kill, 5-on-5, power play, so he's a very important part of our team."

Breaking into the top 20 among forwards this week is the Rangers' Sean Avery, thanks in part to text voting. Avery ranks second to Letang in text votes, with more than 27,000. That's boosted his total so far to 64,450 -- not bad for a write-in candidate.

Just behind Avery is Capitals forward Alexander Semin and Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp. They may not have been on the ballot, but so far they've received more votes than Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Marian Gaborik, Phil Kessel, Anze Kopitar and Martin St. Louis.

Letang isn't the only defenseman having his name written onto the ballot. Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban is sixth with 127,112 votes, which puts him ahead of two of last year's Norris Trophy finalists, the Kings' Drew Doughty and the Capitals' Mike Green.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players