WHO WERE YOUR BIG ALL-STAR GAME SNUBS?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: I can find two easy snubs in each division in the West. In the Pacific, I’m looking at Mark Giordano and Leon Draisaitl. In the Central, I think Gabriel Landeskog and Patrick Laine could be all starts.
In the East, I think Niklas Backstrom deserves more love. He’s always flying under the radar. One of the best players of this generation. In the Atlantic, there are four players. Jeff Skinner, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and Brayden Point are having incredible seasons. It’s criminal that they aren’t there.
IAN SHEPPARD: Mitch Marner. Marner is sixth in the league in points right now with 55 (15G-40A) and is also leading the Leafs in points while playing on the top line with John Tavares and Connor Brown. Marner is currently nine points ahead of Tavares and 19 ahead of Auston Matthews who both made the Atlantic Division team.
One other name to mention is Jeff Skinner. Skinner is second to only Alex Ovechkin in goals with 28 on the year and his contribution is a massive influence on the Sabres turnaround season.
WYATT ZIEGER: I’ll admit off the bat I’m not a fan of the NHL’s current ASG format, teams should be voted by coaches and players and every team should not be represented if the talent isn’t there. That would cut down on the snubs and there were a lot Giordano, Point, Marner, Rielly, Laine, Malkin etc.
All that being said the biggest snub for me is Leon Draisatl. Since the ASG is in San Jose, naturally they want to have most of their own talent on display but Pavelski over Drai this year is laughable. Pavelski has two more goals but 14 less points than Draisatl, who is 10th in NHL scoring. Pavelski? tied for 46th. Fingers crossed the additional fan vote per division this year, goes to Leon and not Logan Couture.
Sidenote: Since EVERY team must be represented, if you’re Montreal, Anaheim, Detroit, Nashville, Vegas or NYR you only have your goalie representing you. If you’re goalie gets injured does the league pick a goalie in the division or do you send your back up? Better yet can I send a positional player to play in goal? If Gibson goes down give me Getzlaf in net.
GIVE ME ONE PLAYER WHO WILL REBOUND IN 2019
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Oh this is a tough one. I’m going to say Milan Lucic. Two weeks in a row I’m talking about Looch! He was so bad over the past calendar year, I just can’t see how he could be any worse. It won’t be a huge bounceback, but I’ll say Milan scores five goals before the end of this season. He’s due. It’s got to happen eventually.
IAN SHEPPARD: Erik Karlsson. Karlsson hasn’t necessarily struggled so far with 33 points (3G-30A) on the year so far. In fact he’s started to find his stride recently. But I think he’s really going to find his game in 2019. I believe we’re going to start to see the Karlsson that made his name what it was in Ottawa when he was the best defensemen in the league.
As 2019 rolls on and Karlsson becomes more comfortable with his new team I think he’ll start to be a major factor in San Jose’s playoff run.
WYATT ZIEGER: He’s already got his first goal of the year in 2019 so here’s hoping William Nylander. After a long contract dispute that saw him miss the Maple Leafs first 28 games, Nylander has come back and looked less than spectacular.
With 1 goal and 2 assists through his first 12 appearances back it’s time for Nylander hit his stride once again. He has recently been reunited with Auston Matthews who has vowed to get Willy back into his scoring ways and if there is any man who can get his motor running it’ll be Matthews.
HOW MANY TEAMS IN EACH CONFERENCE ARE STILL “IN THE HUNT’?
TYLER YAREMCHUK: In the East, I think Washington, Tampa, and Toronto are locks. That leaves Columbus, Pittsburgh, Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, and the Islanders in the hunt. One of those teams will miss and I believe it will be the Islanders. I just don’t trust their goaltending.
In the West, Winnipeg, Nashville, Vegas, San Jose, and Calgary are locks already (the latter three because their division is awful). That leaves me with Dallas, Anaheim, Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Minnesota fighting for the last three spots. Vancouver will fall out. I don’t know how I feel about Edmonton, Anaheim, and Minnesota though.
IAN SHEPPARD: In the East I only see two teams really in the hunt. Currently the Islanders, Rangers, Panthers and Hurricanes are all within 10 points of a playoff spot. Buffalo and Montreal hold both Wild Card spots and I believe they will continue to fight for those spots. Other than that I only see the Islanders and Panthers being legit contenders for those spots. I don’t think the Rangers have enough depth and it will be too difficult for Carolina to stay close with the 10 point gap.
For the West I think there’s three teams who will stay in the mix. Colorado and Anaheim hold both wild card spots for now with 46 and 45 points respectively. On the outside looking in sit the Canucks, Wild and Oilers with only a max four point difference. The Canucks are one point out and their deep young talent will keep them in it. Minnesota and Edmonton are a little cloudier. Minnesota is battling injuries but could stay in the hunt while Edmonton lacks the depth behind it’s superstars to stay consistent down the road.
WYATT ZIEGER: I’ll start in the West with the teams who have no chance to make the playoffs and that’s LA, Arizona and Chicago.
Next is those who have a shot to make the playoffs and that’s every other team in the conference. Even St. Louis who is 13th with 36 points still has a chance, they have the least games played in conference and would need a good streak but even that’s not impossible.
The East is a little more clean cut, there is a clear disparity between who is a playoff team and who is not. The cut off comes at 9th which is currently occupied by the New York Islanders, with the exclusion of the Panthers who I could see make a playoff push.
Everyone else currently outside of the playoff picture; Rangers, Hurricanes, Devils, Red Wings, Flyers and Senators can’t hold a candle to the rest of their divisions and conference which is going to cost them post season concession sales.