Choosing All-Stars in the NHL can be difficult. The scoreboards around the league are being lit up every night, and there are a plethora of players finding their name on the scoresheet.
Each All-Star team has a roster limit, and that means there are plenty of deserving players that will not be invited to the festivities in San Jose. Which of those most deserving players should be heading to the Bay Area instead of watching from home?
Atlantic Division: Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
The 24-year-old Vancouver native sure seems like an NHL veteran. Despite the age, Rielly has already played in 433 games over six seasons for the Maple Leafs. This season has been a breakout one offensively; Rielly has registered 47 points in 45 games to only add more to what was already a lethal Toronto attack.
Morgan Rielly says thanks for the support, but he’s OK not getting voted as last man to the all-star game. Will be glad to spend the break resting in B.C. and reunited with his Yellow Lab dog Maggie. “She’s eight years old now. She’s a cougar.”— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) January 11, 2019
It would be hard to see how he was left off the roster, but he may be a victim of his team’s success. Each team needs a representative, and the Leafs have two in the forward department (John Tavares and Auston Matthews). Statistically speaking, Rielly is a better choice than Keith Yandle.
Rielly did not win the Last Men In vote from NHL.com, so he will be finding himself getting some rest over the All-Star weekend. Rielly was not left out because of talent or production, rather he was on the unfortunate end of roster rules.
Metropolitan Division: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Russian star has been overshadowed throughout his career, in terms of team and country. Sidney Crosby is the most recognizable name for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Malkin is the second-most thought about Russian phenom behind Alex Ovechkin.
Despite not having the bulk of the attention, he produces at an unbelievable rate. This season is no different. Malkin has 50 points through 46 games, numbers more than worthy enough for a trip to Northern California.
Even with some quiet (by his standards) stretches, Evgeni Malkin has 49 points in 44 games in 2018-19. The @penguins centre’s effort Friday put him alone into 2nd on this list of Russian superstars pic.twitter.com/ECgYt2cgez— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) January 12, 2019
The exclusion may not all be bad for Malkin and the Penguins. Malkin has dealt with injuries the past few seasons; and has played more than 70 games only once in the past five seasons. The days off could serve the 32-year-old well as the Penguins make their bid at a third championship in four years. Pittsburgh would prefer their center to play in the spring rather the All-Star game as Malkin has registered 165 points in 158 playoff games.
Central Division: Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
It has been a renaissance year for the North Star State native. Zach Parise has dealt with injuries over the past few season that has not only kept him off the ice, but put his career in jeopardy. It was a wonder if the 34-year-old would be able to come back and have a profound impact on a team like he did in years past.
Parise has silenced all his doubters. He has found the scoresheet 41 times already, which is one point away from matching his best total over the past two seasons.
Parise has been a steadying offensive producer for a Wild team that is struggling to find consistency. Minnesota is going to be in a war for one of the wild card spots following the All-Star break, and they may be able to get into the playoffs thanks to their native son’s resurgence.
Pacific Division: Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm, Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Of course, all four of these deserving players would not be on one roster because of the rules, but it seems like robbery that not one of these players is not in the All-Star Game.
This group, along with Johnny Gaudreau and David Rittich, have played a huge part in the Flames resurgence this season. The Flames underperformed last season, and it was unsure whether or not they would be able to improve under new head coach Bill Peters.
Keith Yandle with a massive slash as Sean Monahan goes for the empty net pic.twitter.com/sYc3i5fHGU— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 12, 2019
The script has flipped, and the Flames are cruising toward the postseason. Giordano has increased his offensive production from the back end. Monahan and Tkachuk continue to thrive as young stars. The change of scenery has really served Lindholm well.
While the final vote is done by the fans, it does not seem right that at least one of these four will not be participating on January 26. On the bright side, it allows for the Flames top guns to rest up for a Pacific Division run and possibly the number one seed in the Western Conference.