The full rosters for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game will be revealed by the NHL on Wednesday.
But NHL.com is a bit ahead of the game, enlisting four experts -- Mike Morreale (Metropolitan), Arpon Basu (Atlantic Division), Dan Rosen (Central Division) and Kevin Woodley (Pacific Division) -- to put together their version of the 11-man roster for each division.
Each division's roster will have six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. One player from each division was voted onto the team by the fans and will serve as that team's captain. The other 40 players will be selected by the League's Hockey Operations Department. Each All-Star team will have at least one player from every team in its division.
The game, to be played 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.
Here are the rosters as selected by our panel:
|J. Jagr, RW (FLA)
||A. Ovechkin, LW (WSH)
||P. Kane, RW (CHI)
||J. Scott, LW (ARI)
|P. Bergeron, C (BOS)
||S. Crosby, C (PIT)
||J. Toews, C (CHI)
||T. Hall, LW (EDM)
|M. Hoffman, LW (OTT)
||C. Giroux, C (PHI)
||T. Seguin, C (DAL)
||J. Gaudreau, LW (CGY)
|D. Larkin, C (DET)
||J. Tavares, C (NYI)
||J. Benn, LW (DAL)
||J. Pavelski, C (SJS)
|S. Stamkos, C (TBL)
||M. Zuccarello, RW (NYR)
||N. MacKinnon, C (COL)
||D. Sedin, LW (VAN)
|van Riemsdyk, LW (TOR)
||B. Saad, RW (CBJ)
||V. Tarasenko, LW (STL)
||A. Kopitar, C (LAK)
|E. Karlsson (OTT)
||J. Carlson (WSH)
||R. Suter (MIN)
||B. Burns (SJS)
|R. Ristolainen (BUF)
||J. Faulk (CAR)
||S. Weber (NSH)
||D. Doughty (LAK)
|P.K. Subban (MTL)
||K. Letang (PIT)
||D. Byfuglien (WPG)
||O. Ekman-Larsson (ARI)
|B. Bishop (TBL)
||B. Holtby (WSH)
||J. Allen (STL)
||J. Quick (LAK)
|R. Luongo (FLA)
||C. Schneider (NJD)
||C. Crawford (CHI)
||J. Gibson (ANA)
Jaromir Jagr was voted Atlantic Division captain in spite of his plea to fans to ignore him and allow his soon-to-be 44-year-old legs a short rest. At least one of his older Florida Panthers teammates is in the same boat.
Joining Jagr in Nashville is Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who has the best save percentage of any goalie in the division to play at least 20 games.
Ottawa Senators forward Mike Hoffman has more goals than anyone in the division and his lethal shot should serve him well in this format. Ditto Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who is just behind Hoffman in goals despite having a bit of a down season.
Center - BOS
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 35
SOG: 126 | +/-: 4
Center Patrice Bergeron
leads the Boston Bruins
in points and is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL, an important skill in 3-on-3 hockey.
Detroit Red Wings rookie Dylan Larkin brings young legs and a goal-scoring touch to the mix, and James van Riemsdyk edged teammate Leo Komarov as the Toronto Maple Leafs representative largely because his game is better suited to the format.
The division's strength is on the blue line, led by Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, arguably the most dangerous skater in the NHL. He's joined by P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens and Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres, who lead their respective teams in ice time and have produced points at about the same rate.
The goaltending tandem is completed by Ben Bishop of the Lightning, who has the lowest goals-against average of any goalie in the division to play at least 20 games and is just behind Luongo in save percentage.
-- Arpon Basu
The Washington Capitals have proven the superior team in all three zones in the Metropolitan Division during the first half of the season and that's reason enough to have a player represented in each of those areas at the All-Star Game.
Left wing Alex Ovechkin, voted by the fans as division captain, leads the division with 21 goals. John Carlson is second among defensemen in the division with 27 points despite missing the past four games because of a lower-body injury, and goaltender Braden Holtby has the most wins (24) and lowest goals-against average (1.93) and best save percentage (.932) among Metropolitan Division goalies to play at least 20 games.
Left Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 29
SOG: 115 | +/-: 1
The Capitals contingent is joined at forward by a few other team captains and offensive catalysts for their respective teams. Sidney Crosby
of the Pittsburgh Penguins
, Claude Giroux
of the Philadelphia Flyers
and John Tavares
of the New York Islanders
all make the grade at center. Right wing Mats Zuccarello
leads the New York Rangers
in goals (16) and points (31), and left wing Brandon Saad
leads the Columbus Blue Jackets
with 16 goals.
Crosby has found his scoring touch after struggling early in the season. Giroux once again leads the Flyers in goals (12) and points (29). Tavares leads the Islanders with 15 goals.
The division does have several mobile defensemen capable of making big plays on offense. In addition to Carlson, our unit consists of Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Faulk is among the NHL leaders among defensemen in goals (14) and points (30), and is a power-play dynamo. Letang ranks in the top three among Metropolitan defensemen in points (22) and power-play points (13).
Holtby and New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider have earned their opportunity to represent the Metropolitan. Holtby leads the NHL in almost every meaningful statistical category among goaltenders, and Schneider has been the most valuable player for the most improved team in the division.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane gets the automatic nod as the captain for the Central Division. He'd be on this squad anyway because of his League-leading 57 points. His teammate, Jonathan Toews, isn't having his best season statistically, but to ignore him as All-Star would be to ignore everything else he does on the ice to make the Blackhawks a championship contender. He's a shoo-in.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn also might as well be automatics. They are the best duo in the NHL right now; Benn is second in the League with 52 points and Seguin is third with 50. Benn has a League-high 24 goals while Seguin is tied for second with 23. They each have 14 points on the power play.
Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon round out the forwards as a likely pair.
Center - COL
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 33
SOG: 122 | +/-: -1
Tarasenko was a no-brainer because of his 23 goals, tied for second with Seguin and Kane and one behind Benn. MacKinnon was the choice ahead of Winnipeg Jets
forward Blake Wheeler
because MacKinnon is center. He's also Colorado's lone representative.
Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien was the pick on defense rather than Colorado's Tyson Barrie because MacKinnon was the pick at forward. Byfuglien, who has 23 points in 39 games, is Winnipeg's lone All-Star representative.
Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild is on the team because nobody in the division plays more minutes, and he always makes them valuable and productive. He is the Wild's lone representative, though with more roster spots center Mikko Koivu and goalie Devan Dubnyk would have good cases.
The toughest call came between the Nashville Predators' Shea Weber, his Nashville teammate Roman Josi, and Dallas defenseman John Klingberg. They're all fairly equal; Weber was the pick because he's the captain of the team that is hosting the event.
Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues has been the best No. 1 goalie in the division, at least according to the stats. He has a 2.11 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks is a shade behind him with a 2.23 GAA and .925 save percentage, but he's faced 930 shots, 50 more than any goalie in the division. He also has League-high six shutouts.
--- Dan Rosen
Arizona Coyotes forward John Scott was voted onto the Pacific Division team as captain, and Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames are easy picks as two of the League's top-10 scorers and most exciting players. San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski may not have the same highlight-reel resume, but with 20 goals and 38 points and underrated puck skills he is no less a no-brainer.
That leaves two spots, one of which goes to Daniel Sedin as the lone representative of the Vancouver Canucks. As tempting as it was to add twin brother Henrik Sedin as the next highest-scoring forward in the division, the reality is their struggles in the 3-on-3 regular-season overtime format are the lone blemish on an age-defying season for the 35-year-olds.
Center - LAK
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 29
SOG: 72 | +/-: 15
It was equally tempting to give that final spot to an Oilers rookie, but not Connor McDavid
. Leon Draisaitl
is one of four forwards to have played more than 10 games to average more than a point a game in the Pacific with 32 in 30 games. But with the Oilers last in the division and the Kings in first, the better choice is Anze Kopitar
, who is the choice ahead of teammate Tyler Toffoli
for everything he does in addition to scoring.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is an ideal fit for the new format and the highest scoring defender in the division by a healthy margin with 16 goals and 34 points in 37 games. The Kings' Drew Doughty provides a defensive conscience while still having enough speed and skill to help push the offense, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson deserves a second straight All-Star appearance as the do-it-all defender and third-leading scorer on the Coyotes.
The Kings' Jonathan Quick was the obvious choice as the workhorse No. 1 on the only dominant team in the Pacific, and his aggressive style and explosive lateral mobility should make for some highlight-reel saves in the 3-on-3 format. Choosing a second goalie was tougher after illness slowed November pick Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks. So his talented young teammate John Gibson is the pick because of his .932 save percentage and four shutouts in 13 starts since getting called up when Andersen got sick in late November.