This is the precursor to the City of Nashville hosting this event in 2016, and so far the votes haven't been piling up for the Gold and Blue. The usual suspects are there: Crosby, Kane (grumble) Subban, Keith, Price and some demi-god in Latvia by the name of Zemgus Girgensons leading the pack with a whole country of voters behind him.
Many of the NHL correspondents have penciled in three Predators for the All-Star game. One is a mainstay of the ASG, and let's face it, the skills competition wouldn't be nearly as exciting without Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber trading slap shot blasts for hardest shot. The next nominee is a healthy and rejuvenated Pekka Rinne; a goalie that when on his game can change the fate of his team and steal a win here and there (See: Edmonton on Thanksgiving).
The third nominee from the Predators is the biggest surprise of the year: Filip Forsberg. Dubbed #PrinceFilip, this 20 year old phenom is leading all rookies (and all Predators) in goals, points, plus/minus and GWG. He is quickly becoming the favorite for the #Cal9er trophy for rookie of the year. If he sustains his near point per game pace, this puts him in elite company with Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin who were the only PPG rookies in the past decade.
The dark horses being batted around by the Predators faithful are Mike Ribeiro and Roman Josi. Ribeiro is second on the team in points and has played amazing on the top line with Forsberg and James Neal. Roman Josi has been solid all year long and even though his numbers aren't tops among defenseman, his TOI is top five in the league. Sufficed to say, if Ryan Suter is getting love from the pundits, so should Josi.
Year after year, Shea Weber proves that he belongs in the talks of elite blueliners. But this season, Weber hasn't put up the garish goal totals he has done in seasons past. His name alone should get him the votes needed to fly out to Columbus as he still remains one of the best all-around defensemen in the NHL. He is top five in TOI per game and the skills competition wouldn't be complete without his mythical net-busting slap shot against the hulking 6'9" record-holder Zdeno Chara.
A return to Vezina form, Rinne has helped the Predators start out with one of their best seasons in existence. After last season's hip surgery and subsequent hip infection, their were some doubts as to whether Rinne could ever get back to his previous form but he put all those concerns to rest this year. He is currently first in wins (17), second in games played (23), minutes (1,397) and SV% (.931), and fourth in GAA (1.89).
Rarely has a fan base been happier to have one of their longtime players request a trade. After a few NHL games and most of the 2013-14 season marinating in the AHL, Forsberg burst onto the NHL this year with astounding numbers and the rookie point lead. Not content with simply playing in the Young Stars game featuring the top NHL rookies, Forsberg should be voted into the big show for performances mirroring the likes of Ovechkin, Malkin and Crosby in their rookie campaigns.
A solid start that has him second on the Predators in points, Mike Ribeiro has also been a surprise for the Predators and an absolute steal for the front office. His game is silky smooth which causes many defenders to give him a wide girth to make tape to tape passes and position in front of the net for scoring chances. He will unfortunately be overshadowed by many worthy players ahead of him on other squads, but from a Predators fan perspective, Ribeiro is the goods.
Some years back when Suter decided to move to other (not so warmer) climes with Zach Parise, the Predators were left with a gaping hole on the left side of Shea Weber. Enter Roman Josi. He is a steady force on the blueline and has mastered the breakout pass to get the Predators offense charging into the offensive zone. If he can't find a pass, he has the carving ability to skate the puck deep into enemy territory. Dark horse doesn't begin to describe his chances but his top five TOI and his point totals are similar to those already in consideration, so there's that.
Now, it is up to you. We are calling all Fans of the Fang, all Residents of SMASHville and everyone who is Gold and Blue through and through to get on you computers, IPhones, Ipad, Kindle, Note, Android...hell, send a telegraph to the NHL if you have to and let's get some Gold in the All-Star festivities. Remember, this is a solid test for the upcoming All Star game in 2016 to be held at Bridgestone Arena, so let's show the NHL we support our players and get them to the show this year and next.