More than half of the season is in the books and the NHL All-Star break has begun. The festivities will take place this weekend and the participants have been chosen, but there were plenty of players that won't be suiting up for Team Foligno or Team Toews; although some could still be added at the last minute as replacements because of injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Bobrovsky.
I thought it would fun to assemble my own All-Star roster from a lengthy list of omissions. You can call them snubs if you want, but I'm just going to say that they would be deserving All-Stars as well.
Henrik Zetterberg (DET), Pavel Datsyuk (DET), Nicklas Backstrom (WSH), Kyle Okposo (NYI), Nikita Kucherov (TBL), Joe Pavelski (SJS), Jamie Benn (DAL), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Logan Couture (SJS), James van Riemsdyk (TOR), Derek Stepan (NYR), Zach Parise (MIN)
During a weekend where creativity is paramount it just feels wrong to not include Pavel Datsyuk. The Magic Man does things with the puck that other skaters in the league wish they could and he's been dynamite for the Wings this season with 15 goals and 35 points in 36 games. Injuries have been building up for Datsyuk, but he remains a scoring threat whenever he's in the lineup.
I still find it shocking that Nicklas Backstrom has never been selected to play in an NHL All-Star Game. He has amassed 541 points in 541 games during his career. Backstrom is also a top-10 scorer in the league this campaign with 47 points in 46 outings.
Blake Wheeler is a great consistent, contributor for the Jets. He's third on the club in scoring behind Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little, but he has great all-around value with 13 goals, 36 points and 53 penalty minutes in 48 games. It also wouldn't be surprising if he passed Little and Ladd during the second half of the year because he isn't a stranger to racking up points at the end of the year. Consider him as a trade target for your fantasy team. I also want to mention here that leaving Little off this roster was a tough call.
Joe Pavelski's pace has been slower than last year, but he's still having a great season. He has the most goals among the All-Star omissions with 24 in 48 contests. Pavelski has earned 42 points and he's tied for first in the league with 12 power-play goals. Derek Stepan heads into the All-Star break as just one of 11 players who are averaging more than one point per game in more than one appearance this year. The other 10 players were named to the All-Star Game, but Stepan was not. He has played in less than games than them because a fractured fibula cost him 12 contests, but he has made a difference for the Rangers when he's been in the lineup. He has generated eight goals and 32 points in 31 games.
Zach Parise has had a difficult time off the ice because of the passing of his father, but on the ice he's been getting the job done for the Wild. Obviously, the league standings tell a different story there, but his numbers haven't been the problem. Parise leads the team with 19 goals and he's amassed 153 shots in 39 games. He also ranks second on the club with 36 points.
I know this selection is heavy on the Eastern Conference, but I think it helps to balance it out because the only blueliner selected to the actual All-Star Game from the East is Carolina's Justin Faulk. I did have Kris Letang here, but he's now injured so I chose Yandle to replace him.
Subban and Karlsson have the ability to take over a game for their respective teams. Subban can do it offensively or with a big hit, while Karlsson produces shots and points like a first-line forward. The two of them have each won a Norris Trophy in the past three seasons.
John Carlson and Mark Streit are enjoying excellent seasons. They are tied for fourth in the league in scoring among defensemen with 34 points apiece. Carlson is second among NHL rearguards in even strength points with 27 in 46 matches, while Streit is tied for second in power-play points with 19 in 48 outings.
Victor Hedman has been limited to 28 games this season due to injuries. He missed 18 games with a fractured finger, but he's been a force on the back end for the Lightning. The second overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft came into his own offensively last year with 13 goals and 55 points in 75 games and he's picked up 22 points this campaign. Check around your league to see if he's being undervalued because he should have a strong second half if he can remain healthy.
Andersen is tied for the third-most starts in the league this year (38) and he sits second in the NHL with 26 victories. He also owns a 2.30 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage as the starter of the Anaheim Ducks.
Bishop had a brilliant season in 2013-14 and he's been superb again this campaign. His shots against have reduced, which has led to some adjustments but he's been a consistent netminder for Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lundqvist has allowed three goals or less in each of his past 16 outings. He has posted outstanding numbers this season with a .921 save percentage, a 2.25 goals-against average and five shutouts.
Just missing the cut here was Braden Holtby, who has become a workhorse for the Washington Capitals. He has enjoyed a tremendous bounce back season. I really like the seasons that Michael Hutchinson and Brian Elliott are having as well, but they have smaller sample sizes than the others.
If the NHL All-Star Game isn't your cup of tea, I suggest watching the CHL Top Prospects Game Thursday night. 2015 NHL Draft eligible prospects competing in an All-Star-like contest with plenty of physical contact.