Who should be the Last Men In representative for the Central Division in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 25?
There are seven candidates, one from each team in the division, in the fan vote, which runs through Jan. 10: Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, Matt Duchene of the Nashville Predators, David Perron of the St. Louis Blues and Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets.
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 over who should be the pick for the Central.
Tracey Myers, staff writer
This is an easy one. It's Perron. The production of the Blues forward has made the loss of Vladimir Tarasenko to a shoulder injury a little easier. I know the Blues are deep, but Perron has been at another level in the first half of the season. He is the Blues leading scorer with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 42 games. Get him into the All-Star Game!
Dan Rosen, senior writer
I thought about Perron. But I can't stop with the Makar buzz. Not even an injury that kept the rookie defenseman out of the Avalanche lineup for eight games from Dec. 9-23 can stop me from picking him to be an all-star. He's 21 years old and he's playing like a veteran. Despite missing the eight games, he leads all NHL rookie defensemen and is seventh among all NHL defensemen with 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists). Makar plays an average of 20:28 per game for one of the best teams in the League. He's quick, smart, exciting and fun to watch. He'd be terrific in a 3-on-3 tournament, moving the puck to teammates Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, like he does so well for the Avalanche. Perron is a good choice, Tracey, but the event needs a rookie and Makar is certainly deserving.
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
Not surprisingly, Tracey is right, and Dan is wrong. As much as I love Makar as a player, it's Perron. Easily. The game is in St. Louis, he was part of the Blues' Stanley Cup championship team last season. He has six more points than any of his teammates. He has scored six game-winning goals, tied for most in the NHL. He has scored four overtime goals, most in the NHL. He could have been on the Central Division roster in the first place.
Oh sure, Nick, why don't we just put every Blues player in the game? Alumni too. Last Men In: Brett Hull. Wait, no, Chris Pronger.
Seriously, Perron is deserving, as I mentioned, but Makar is as well. The Central Division has two defensemen on the roster. Is it a must to have three? No. But it would be wrong to deny Makar the chance to showcase his remarkable ability on the national stage. Nick and Tracey like Perron and that's fine, but for this vote and this debate they're blinded by points, the silver trophy and the location of the event. I can see and that means once again I'm right in my analysis, Makar for the win.
I thought my bob-and-weave skills were going to be handiest while walking the very crowded Cotton Bowl Stadium concourse prior to the Winter Classic but I guess I need to dodge Dan's barbs, too. Fine. I'll roll with it and stand by my pick. Besides, the home crowd in St. Louis wants to see as many of their conquering heroes as possible. So again, I'm right. And Nick's right, too. And that's about as much as I'll ever kiss up to a colleague.
Finally, Dan has a good idea. Yes, please, put Brett Hull in the game. That would be entertaining. The All-Star Game isn't the NHL Awards. Though it is an honor to be selected, it is for the fans, and with the game in St. Louis, especially following the first Stanley Cup victory in their history, if there is a close call, it should go to a Blues player. As for Makar, I'm not worried. He has plenty of All-Star Games in his future.