The NHL announced a new format for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Wednesday.
The game, on Sunday, Jan. 31, will be a 3-on-3 tournament pitting the four divisions against one another in a winner-take-all format. The Atlantic Division will face the Metropolitan Division in one semifinal and the Central Division will face the Pacific Division in the other semifinal. The winners play in the championship game.
Games will be 20 minutes in length and will be decided by a shootout if tied after the 20 minutes.
Each division's roster will have six forwards, three defenseman and two goalies. One player from each division will be voted onto the team by the fans and the other 40 players will be selected by the League's Hockey Operations Department. Each team will have at least one player from every team in its division.
Roster selections won't be announced until sometime in January, but NHL.com enlisted four of its writers -- Arpon Basu (Atlantic Division), Mike Morreale (Metropolitan Division), Dan Rosen (Central Division) and Kevin Woodley (Pacific Division) -- to take an early guess at what the four divisional rosters could look like.
|J. Eichel, C (BUF)
||A. Ovechkin, LW (WSH)
||J. Toews, C (CHI)
||T. Hall, LW (EDM)
|J. Jagr, RW (FLA)
||S. Crosby, C (PIT)
||P. Kane, RW (CHI)
||J. Gaudreau, LW (CGY)
|D. Krejci, C (BOS)
||C. Giroux, C (PHI)
||V. Tarasenko, LW (STL)
||T. Toffoli, C (LAK)
|G. Nyquist, RW (DET)
||J. Tavares, C (NYI)
||T. Seguin, C (DAL)
||M. Domi, LW (ARI)
|M. Pacioretty, LW (MTL)
||M. Zuccarello, RW (NYR)
||B. Wheeler, RW (WPG)
||J. Pavelski, C (SJS)
|S. Stamkos, C (TBL)
||B. Saad, RW (CBJ)
||J. Benn, LW (DAL)
||D. Sedin, LW (VAN)
|E. Karlsson (OTT)
||J. Carlson (WSH)
||R. Suter (MIN)
||B. Burns (SJS)
|M. Rielly (TOR)
||J. Faulk (CAR)
||J. Klingberg (DAL)
||D. Doughty (LAK)
|P.K. Subban (MTL)
||R. McDonagh (NYR)
||T. Barrie (COL)
||O. Ekman-Larsson (ARI)
|R. Luongo (FLA)
||H. Lundqvist (NYR)
||P. Rinne (NSH)
||F. Andersen (ANA)
|C. Price (MTL)
||C. Schneider (NJD)
||J. Allen (STL)
||J. Quick (LAK)
Here's how our writers arrived at the above rosters:
With a substantial lead in the Atlantic Division standings, it's only natural the Montreal Canadiens have three representatives. Goaltender Carey Price has missed some time recently, but he's Carey Price, so he makes the team, and Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers is having an outstanding season.
P.K. Subban of the Canadiens and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators are no-brainer picks, even if Karlsson has yet to apply for his membership to the 3-on-3 hockey fan club. The format of this tournament should allow a player with the skills of Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs to shine. Playing on a team near the bottom of the League rankings in goals, Rielly has still produced offensively and skates well enough to take full advantage of the extra space.
Center - BOS
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 20
SOG: 39 | +/-: 2
It gets a little more interesting up front.
David Krejci helped the Boston Bruins get off to a strong start and has been one of the most productive players in the NHL, let alone the division. Same goes for Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens and Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jaromir Jagr will turn 44 two weeks after the All-Star Game, and for him to be playing the way he has at his age, he's in. To compensate for Jagr's impact on the average age of the team, in comes 19-year-old Jack Eichel, who leads the Buffalo Sabres in goals and has the wheels necessary to be effective at 3-on-3. The same argument justifies the selection of Gustav Nyquist from the Red Wings. – Arpon Basu
Washington's Alex Ovechkin is one of the most dynamic scorers in the world. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby is off to a slow start, but has the skills possessed by few others and remains the biggest of names. Philadelphia's Claude Giroux continues to be one of the most creative and deceptive setup men in the League. John Tavares of the New York Islanders is tied for the division lead in goals and second in game-winners; he has been a finalist for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in two of the past three seasons.
Forwards Brandon Saad of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mats Zuccarello of the Rangers also earn their way onto this team. Zuccarello ranks second in the division in points per 60 minutes and in primary assists. Saad has the most power-play goals in the division.
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 7
SOG: 36 | +/-: 13
McDonagh always seems to find a way to come up big in key moments and has been a key cog in the Rangers' early-season dominance. John Carlson
of the Capitals and Justin Faulk
of the Carolina Hurricanes
rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in points among defensemen in the division.
Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers has the lowest goals-against average and highest save percentage in the division. It's time Cory Schneider got his due in his second full season as a full-time starter with the New Jersey Devils. Schneider has played the most minutes of any goalie in the division and is among the League leaders in every statistical category despite playing on a rebuilding team this season. – Mike Morreale
The Dallas Stars have been the best team in the division for the balance of the season, which is why their top three players made this team. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg are all top five in the League in scoring and could be one of the main attractions in the 3-on-3 competition.
Patrick Kane leads the NHL with 13 goals and 28 points and has been dominant on nearly every shift. Jonathan Toews hasn't been as dominant in point production, but he is one of the best players in the League and arguably the most clutch, too. He leads the NHL with two overtime winning goals. He makes it on merit and history.
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 18
SOG: 74 | +/-: 5
Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the League's best goal scorers and Blake Wheeler
is having another strong season in Winnipeg. Each has the ability to light up the scoreboard, particularly when given more space in a 3-on-3 competition.
The six forwards selected have combined for six overtime goals this season entering play Wednesday, making this a formidable group for 3-on-3 as well.
Ryan Suter and Tyson Barrie join Klingberg to make up a defense that has combined for 41 assists this season. Speed and puck control are the key tenets of this defense corps.
Jake Allen has a .934 save percentage and 1.91 goals-against average, best in both categories among goalies in the division with 10 or more appearances. Pekka Rinne has been his usual stingy self with a .918 save percentage and 2.10 GAA. He has 10 wins in 15 starts. – Dan Rosen
The hardest part of picking the team was whether to include Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid. McDavid fractured his collarbone and is expected to be out months, but there is a chance he could be healed in time for the All-Star Game.
If he comes back earlier than expected, he still won't have much time to find his game or build on the 12 points in his first 12 NHL games, so it's too hard to include McDavid on such a short list.
Left Wing - CGY
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 18
SOG: 44 | +/-: -1
Teammate Taylor Hall
's speed makes him an easy pick in 3-on-3 and Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau
is in the same boat with a dizzying set of skills. Tyler Toffoli
and rookie Max Domi
continue to tip the age scale toward youth with similarly impressive puck skills. Daniel Sedin
and Joe Pavelski
add experience to the forward mix but don't be confused by the latter's status as more of an all-around player because Pavelski works hard on the shot and puck skills that result in goals.
On defense, Brent Burns brings a style to the ice perfect for 3-on-3, Drew Doughty has the skill set to take care of both ends of a rink with fewer players on it, and everyone gets to see how good Oliver Ekman-Larsson is with a second straight All-Star appearance.
Picking goalies from a division without a dominant team yet isn't easy, and perhaps one will emerge in time for the actual selections, but for now we'll go with Frederik Andersen, who has been sensational for stretches and hasn't gotten much support offensively. And Jonathan Quick's explosive lateral mobility makes him a great candidate for 3-on-3 hockey. – Kevin Woodley