Who should be the Last Men In representative for the Metropolitan Division in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 25?
There are eight candidates, one from each team in the division, in the fan vote, which runs through Friday: Teuvo Teravainen of the Carolina Hurricanes, Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils, Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders, Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers, Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins and T.J. Oshie of the Washington Capitals.
The player with the most votes from each of the four divisions will be added to the All-Star Game rosters.
Though fans can make their picks here, three NHL.com writers had their own debate about who should be the pick for the Metropolitan.
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
It was a difficult choice, but I'm going to go with Letang. The Penguins lost their representative when forward Jake Guentzel had surgery on his right shoulder that will sideline him for at least four months, and Letang, who made his fifth All-Star Game appearance after winning the Last Men In vote for the division last season, is the best candidate to replace him. Despite missing eight games in November with a lower-body injury, Letang has 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 34 games and is tied for eighth in the NHL among defensemen with an average of 0.76 points per game. Only John Carlson of the Capitals (1.21) and Dougie Hamilton of the Hurricanes (0.88), who were selected for the All-Star Game, are averaging more points per game among defensemen in the Metropolitan Division. Additionally, Letang is fifth in the NHL in ice time per game (25:29).
Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor
Looking at the Metropolitan roster, it doesn't really need another defenseman. It doesn't need another forward either, but the chance to add Teravainen to this group is too good to pass up. Teravainen is an electric scorer, and giving him the extra ice, coupled with the less-than-lockdown defensive play you see during the 3-on-3 format at the All-Star Game, would provide incredible entertainment. And that's really what the All-Star Game is about, right? Letting the best players in the world do what they do best. Plus, Teravainen is the most deserving player on this list. His 41 points (eight goals, 33 assists) are more than any of the other candidates. Put Teravainen, a left-handed shot, with a right-handed playmaker like Mathew Barzal of the Islanders or Artemi Panarin of the Rangers and watch the fireworks.
Video: WSH@CAR: Teravainen rips one-touch shot for a PPG
Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
The NHL is becoming a younger, more electrifying game, so it's about time Hischier gets his moment in the spotlight. The 21-year-old is one of the League's most dynamic skaters and playmaking forwards. Prior to the Devils trading Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 16, Hischier had 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and was averaging 17:27 of ice time in 27 games. He has eight points (four goal, four assists) and is averaging 19:14 in nine games since the trade. He's been gaining more confidence while inspiring teammates.
Video: NJD@NYI: Hischier drives, extends for goal in front
If we can't agree on a young guy, what about a bit of nostalgia? Let's send Oshie back to St. Louis, where his NHL career started in the 2008-09 season. I think Teravainen is the best option, but the Capitals forward was a fan favorite during his seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues. And remember when Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals wore the floppy hat and oversized sunglasses during the skills competition in 2009? I have a feeling Oshie would come up with a way to top that. And his 1-on-1 skills in open ice? I feel bad for the other goalies already.
I have to agree with Adam in that we already have three solid representatives on defense for the Metropolitan Division, so I wouldn't have Letang in the mix, but with Guentzel out because of injury, we need to focus on a forward. The suggestions of Teravainen and Oshie are intriguing, but in the end I still see Hischier as a player who needs to be here. I believe one day he could be a Selke Trophy candidate with his 200-foot style of game and competitiveness at each end of the ice. This season, he has an NHL career-high face-off winning percentage of 52.7 percent and a shooting percentage of 12 percent. On top of that, I believe he'd perform well in the skills competition, most notably in puck control and/or as a premier passer.
I'm a fan of Teravainen and Hischier too, but if we're going to add another forward, why not Zibanejad? He missed 13 games with an upper-body injury but has been dominant when healthy, with 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 28 games. Zibanejad's average of 1.11 points per game is 18th in the NHL and fourth among Metropolitan Division forwards behind Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins (1.34), Panarin (1.34) and Pittsburgh's Bryan Rust (1.21). Zibanejad and Panarin don't usually play together at 5-on-5 with the Rangers, so seeing them together in the 3-on-3 tournament would be fun.