5 biggest snubs from 2022 NHL All-Star Game
The NHL revealed the players selected for the upcoming 2022 All-Star Game on Thursday. The rosters are headlined by familiar faces like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Nathan MacKinnon, but there are also 18 first-time All-Stars.
Each division's team will still have one player added to its roster as fans will be able to vote for the "Last Men In." Fans won't be able to choose from just anyone, though. Each NHL team has a designated player that can be voted for. Here's a look at each team's nominee:
The NHL requires each team to have at least one representative at the All-Star Game, which, quite frankly, is just silly. It rewards undeserving players on bottom-feeding teams and punishes elite clubs for having too much talent.
Here are our five biggest snubs, both from the initial All-Star rosters and the nominees for the Last Men In.
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
No matter how well he plays, Marchand still doesn't seem to get the respect he deserves. He's one of the most dominant players in the league once again, scoring at a 56-goal and 114-point pace this season. This isn't anything new for Marchand; since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, only McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have more points than him.
The Bruins forward simply dominates the competition whenever he's on the ice, regardless if it's at five-on-five, shorthanded, or on the power play. He hasn't been able to totally shake the pest label he rightfully earned, but simply put, he has been one of the NHL's biggest stars for years now and should be showcased among the league's best.
Jacob Markstrom, Calgary Flames
John Gibson and Thatcher Demko got the nod in net for the Pacific Division, leaving Markstrom in the dust. Both goaltenders certainly have great cases to be All-Stars, but Markstrom has arguably been the best of the three. His 11.82 goals saved above average ranks seventh among all goalies in the NHL, and his .926 save percentage ranks sixth. Both of those marks are ahead of Gibson and Demko.
Johnny Gaudreau rightfully got the call as the Flames' representative, but Markstrom should have been one of the two goaltenders for the division. An easy solution here could have been for Troy Terry to be the Ducks' player selected. The youngster is having an incredible season as he's fifth in the NHL in goals (22) and has been one of the team's most important players.
Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche
Rantanen drew the short straw here simply because the Avalanche have too many good players. He entered Thursday seventh in league scoring with 40 points in 30 games, and it's ludicrous that Clayton Keller is on the team over him. No disrespect to Keller, but the Coyotes winger has only tallied 26 points in 34 games. Those are solid numbers but not worthy of an All-Star spot. He made it simply because Arizona has nobody better.
The Avalanche deserve at least four All-Stars, including Rantanen - one of the game's brightest young stars. But now, he's snubbed just because the Coyotes had to have a representative.
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Ekblad has been in the Norris Trophy conversation all season for his strong play. The Panthers blue-liner entered Thursday fifth among defensemen with 32 points in 35 games, eighth in average time on ice at 25:19, and 15th in expected goals percentage at 56.4%.
Yes, Jonathan Huberdeau and Barkov are both worthy representatives for the Cats. However, Ekblad is clearly more deserving of a spot on the team than Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres and Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens. Heck, Suzuki is a forward, and Ekblad still has 13 more points than him.
Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
The Metropolitan Division is stacked between the pipes. Frederik Andersen and Tristan Jarry are both having sensational seasons, but you could argue that Shesterkin has been even better. Here's how the three netminders stack up in save percentage, goals saved above expected, and goals saved above average:
All three are pretty close, but Shesterkin has a slight edge. The key difference is the Penguins and Hurricanes are two of the best analytical teams in the league, ranking second and fourth, respectively, in expected goals percentage. The Rangers, meanwhile, rank 21st, meaning Shesterkin is responsible for bailing out his club more than the other two.