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All-Star picks lines for All-Star Game

Staff writers decide how talent should be deployed for midseason showcase @NHL

The rosters for the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game were unveiled Wednesday, but the line combinations for the 3-on-3 tournament at Amalie Arena on Jan. 28 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports) likely won't be finalized until close to game time by the coach of each divisional team: Barry Trotz of the Metropolitan (Washington Capitals), Jon Cooper of the Atlantic (Tampa Bay Lightning), Peter Laviolette of the Central (Nashville Predators) and Gerard Gallant of the Pacific (Vegas Golden Knights).

We couldn't wait that long, so we asked four staff writers to put on their coaching hat to reveal how they would deploy the personnel for each division.

Here is what they came up with:


Metropolitan Division

Dan Rosen, Senior Writer

Alex Ovechkin -- Sidney Crosby -- Kris Letang

Josh Bailey -- John Tavares -- Seth Jones

Taylor Hall -- Claude Giroux -- Noah Hanifin

Henrik Lundqvist

Braden Holtby

I've been given the keys for the Metropolitan Division All-Star team. I've been hemming and hawing about this for days. OK, for hours, because I found out who is on my team Wednesday.

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, tied for the League lead with 27 goals, and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby must play together. Rivals turned teammates, just like at the All-Star Game last year in Los Angeles. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is with them; he plays with Crosby and he defends against Ovechkin. He knows the best of both.

I've got a couple of New York Islanders forwards, Josh Bailey and John Tavares, with Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones. Tavares and Bailey have been electrifying all season, combining for 101 points (34 goals, 67 assists).

Video: ANA@NYI: Tavares buries rebound for PPG

Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers are two of the most skilled playmakers in the League. If they played on the same team they'd probably play on the same line, so they're going to be together on my team. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin joins them.

I'll go with the veteran, Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers as the starting goaltender, but let's be clear that this isn't an age-before-beauty reasoning, no offense to Braden Holtby.

Video: NYR@ARI: Lundqvist robs Dvorak with the glove


Atlantic Division

Amalie Benjamin, Staff Writer

Steven Stamkos -- Nikita Kucherov -- Victor Hedman

Jack Eichel -- Auston Matthews -- Erik Karlsson

Aleksander Barkov -- Brad Marchand -- Mike Green

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Carey Price

Well, that was easy. As the newly minted coach of the Atlantic Division -- clearly the standards are lowered, as I have yet to learn to skate -- my top line fell right in my lap. You can't go any other way than with the home team, combining Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov with defenseman Victor Hedman; they have a combined 145 points (50 goals, 95 assists) in 43 games. We'll round that out with starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, earning them (and, by extension, me) the adoration of the crowd at Amalie Arena.

Video: TBL@DET: Kucherov buries Stamkos' feed off faceoff

I've got to follow that with forwards Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs with Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and then I've got forward Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers playing the role of Patrice Bergeron to Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand in my most defensively capable line. It's not all defense though, with Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green triggering the counterattack. Defense, of course, is not the point here; this is the All-Star Game, after all.


Central Division

Tracey Myers, Staff Writer

Patrick Kane -- Tyler Seguin -- P.K. Subban

Blake Wheeler -- Nathan MacKinnon -- John Klingberg

Eric Staal -- Brayden Schenn -- Alex Pietrangelo

Connor Hellebuyck

Pekka Rinne

That's right, I get to arrange the lines in the Central Division. But when it comes to assembling the top line, it's almost too easy.

I know, it's the All-Star Game and there's no shortage of skill. But there's skill and then there's super-fantastic skill, so my top line unites Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin. Just in case there isn't enough razzle-dazzle there, I'm putting Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban with them. Let's watch the fun, eh?

Video: MIN@NSH: Subban unloads slapper past Stalock for PPG

The next two lines are a mix of experience and firepower (speaking of which, what a first half for Klingberg, with six goals and 39 points in 43 games).

As for goaltending, Connor Hellebuyck (23-4-6, 2.36 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) has been tremendous for the Winnipeg Jets. That, combined with it being his first All-Star appearance, earns him the start.

Video: SJS@WPG: Hellebuyck closes the door on Ward


Pacific Division

Nick Cotsonika, Columnist

Brock Boeser -- Connor McDavid -- Brent Burns

Rickard Rakell -- Anze Kopitar -- Drew Doughty

James Neal -- Johnny Gaudreau -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Jonathan Quick

Marc-Andre Fleury

Coach Cotsonika. That has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Well, if you can pronounce Cotsonika.

With this kind of personnel even I could coach the Pacific Division, mixing speed, skill, shooters and passers in each three-man unit.

Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser leads rookies with 22 goals, thanks to his quick release. Who better to feed him than Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid, the reigning scoring champion, and San Jose Sharks defenseman Brett Burns, the scoring leader among defensemen last season?

Video: VAN@TOR: Boeser nets Vanek's feed to open scoring

Defenseman Drew Doughty and center Anze Kopitar belong together thanks to their chemistry with the Los Angeles Kings. They often play 3-on-3 in overtime with Dustin Brown. Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell can play the Brown role. He's a right-handed shot, like Brown, and has 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) this season, compared to Brown's 32 (15 goals, 17 assists).

Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau is fifth in the NHL with 36 assists. He'll find Vegas Golden Knights forward James Neal, who has scored as many as 40 goals in a season. They'll work well with Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Video: NYR@VGK: Neal capitalizes on turnover to beat Pavelec

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is No. 1. The Golden Knights' Marc-Andre Fleury, the ultimate team player, showed what he could do as a No. 2 for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, carrying them through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Note to GMs: That's Cotsonika. COT-sun-EEK-uh.

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