With the NHL officially announcing 3-on-3 at the All Star Game is happening, roster fantasizing has already begun.
11 players will make each team: six skaters, three defensemen and two goalies. That doesn't seem like a lot, until you realize only one or two players were going to be coming from most teams, anyway. But the Central is stacked with high-scoring forwards, bruising defenseman, and a few goalies. There's still plenty of time between now and when the selections are made, but who's most likely to make the cut?
- Tyler Seguin: Is second in the entire NHL in points, fourth in goals, and first in assists. It's happening.
- Jamie Benn: Only one point behind Seguin in the points race, and is only one goal behind Patrick Kane for the league lead. If both of their stats hold and no one gets injured, both of these players are going to be a shoo-in for a roster spot.
- John Klingberg: Dallas' defense isn't great, but Klingberg is shining like a diamond in a landfill. The 23-year-old already has 20 points on the year, and is eating up first pair minutes with Alex Goligoski. Unfortunately, with Benn and Seguin ahead of him, and only three defensemen able to play, Klingberg will assuredly be passed over.
- Shea Weber: I mean, c'mon. Captain Nashville has to be there for the festivities. Pretty sure Philly included that in the contract they signed him to.
- Pekka Rinne: Other than Jake Allen, Rinne is the only other goaltender in the division putting up good and consistent numbers. (Apologies to Kari Lehtonen, but we literally just said the field is too crowded for any other Star than Bennguin.) He missed his chance last year, and would be a great addition for this year. It's his place of residence, after all.
- Roman Josi: He's second on the team in points, and the whole league is starting to realize just how good he is at his job. Will the NHL let Nashville take up two of the three defenders spots? Columbus got three-for-one deal, so why not the Predators? If there was ever a time to openly embrace the Nashville/defense narrative, why not now?
- James Neal: Sorry, dude. Four would be pushing it, even if you are the best forward on the team. You're still more than welcome to crash the party, somehow.
- Vladimir Tarasenko: He's a talented Russian sniper that racks up the goals. Of course he's getting a call for a 3-on-3 tournament.
- Jake Allen: Probably the best goaltender in the Central right now, statistically speaking. I know you could put a bag of potatoes in the crease during an ASG and it would have the same effect, but this guy's pretty good.
- Alexander Steen: Eh.
- Ryan Suter: *bullet point drowned out by all the excessive booing*
- Devan Dubnyk: He's won a lot of games for his club, but his stats aren't so hot. We'll file him in the "filling in for an injury" drawer and hope we never have to open it.
- Patrick Kane: There's Kane and then there's everyone else. He's a full 10 points ahead of the second-highest Blackhawks scorer, and paces the entire league in goals and points. Wait, this means we're going to have to watch Patrick Kane during the All Star Game? God dammit.
- Jonathan Toews: Star power is the only factor here. Toews hasn't set himself above the crowd this season yet, unless you count trying to kill David Backes. (Note: Most Central fans outside of St. Louis do, in fact, count that.)
- Duncan Keith: His name will probably pop up in discussions even though he hasn't played in a million years, because reasons.
- Blake Wheeler: He's tearing it up for Winnipeg, and is a ton of fun to watch.
- Bryan Little: There's an outside chance Wheeler hits a cold spell while Little hits a hot spell and garners more attention... but don't bank on it happening.
- Dustin Byfuglien: He hates 3-on-3. He's slower than your average defender. He delivers punishing hits that are completely irrelevant for this game. Pencil him in as the third defenseman.
- Nathan MacKinnon: He's more than halfway to last year's point total in only 18 games so far. The Avalanche as a team are awful, but let's not discount the skill and offensive prowess of an individual. Kid's pretty good.
- Matt Duchene: Doesn't really have a shot to make it while MacKinnon is playing so well. That chance completely falls to zero
whenif he's traded. to Nashville.