(Editor’s note: point totals and league positions do not include last night’s game. Thanks!)
The All-Star competition continues to be one of the most boring events the NHL puts on every year, because the only fun stuff that happens is when the players party together after the Skills Competition. The last time we had an All-Star game with any interest was 2016 when John Scott was voted in, and “carried” his team to the finals with an MVP to boot.
Yet we still feel kinda good for ourselves when a player from our team makes it. And this year, there are plenty of options available to give the Leafs their first All-Star game with multiple players since 2012, which saw Phil Kessel…, Joffrey Lupul…, and Dion Phaneuf (wow, we really don’t appreciate how good this team is).
The case could’ve been made last year, but unfortunately the All-Star Game was in Tampa, which meant that every spot that wasn’t the minimum one player a team had to bring in went to a Lightning player. While there are still quite a few Bolts that could make it, the Leafs have some equally talented players that could make it an interesting roster, or at least as interesting of a roster that it could be.
With the voting for the spectacle closing later tonight, let’s look at the Leafs who have a shot at making the team, and how likely they’ll be there.
Building off of his excellent sophomore season, Marner has been lightning in a bottle this season, and scored and passed his way to a tie for sixth in the NHL so far this season with a whopping 47 points in 36 games. His 38 assists have him tied for third in the league, and his 30 primary assists is first in the league.
Odds: If there’s a Leaf that has a surefire bet to make the game, it’s Mitch. It’d be very hard to see a reality where the NHL leaves one of the top 10 scorers in the league out of a game that only has goals going for it.
Despite missing 14 games due to injury, Matthews has managed to still put up totals that would even be impressive if he had played all 35 games. His 33 points is tied for 45th despite being the only player with that total or higher to have player less than 30 games. His 19 goals are also amazing at a flat rate, ranking 13th in the league, and he’s the only player not named Alex Ovechkin to have a shot at scoring 50 in 50.
Odds: Despite his impressive totals, I don’t think Matthews is a sure bet, solely because of his injury keeping him out for a month. But, that didn’t seem to stop him last year.
Tavares has been a bit more than a “chip-in guy” for the Leafs this season, as he’s on pace to pass his career high in points and have his first 50 goal season. His 38 points have him tied for 24th in the league this season, and his 23 goals have him tied for 3rd with Gabriel Landeskog, David Pastrnak, and Patrik Laine.
Odds: My bet is that after Mitch, only one other forward could possibly make it from the Leafs, and Tavares and Matthews will be the ones fighting for it. Tavares probably edges out, but that doesn’t stop even guarantee him cracking the roster.
Leading defensemen in points may not guarantee you Norris votes, but it should guarantee you a spot on the All-Star game. Rielly’s 40 points leads all defensemen this season, and he’s one of only four defensemen to score at a point per game pace or higher with at least 30 games. He also leads defensemen in goals with 11, which is tied for 69th among the entire league as well.
Odds: Like Marner, it’d be hard to see him not make the roster. Leading defensemen on points should alone give him a spot, but the fact that his Atlantic division competition is Hotsam Batcho, a bit of a drop, then Yandle and Petry should give him a pretty good shot.
Andersen has been off to a stellar start this season (although he’s tailed off a little bit in December), leading him to 19 wins and a .924 save percentage. He’s had one of the biggest workloads this season as well, playing the 3rd most minutes out of any goalie, and facing the third most shots as well. Despite that, he’s performed excellently, and has at the very least earned some consideration.
Odds: I wouldn’t say that Freddy’s odds are 100%, but he’s still got a solid shot at making it. Between his performance, and the fact that the only goalie that’s played enough and performed well are Halak and Howard, so he doesn’t have a lot of competition for it.
Ultimately, I’d imagine the Atlantic division’s All-Star Roster looks something like this:
It’d be really hard to argue Tavares or Matthews making it over Point based on the season and totals he’s put up, and the only adjustment I could see otherwise is maybe you swap out Freddy for Halak. But, the Leafs should at least see Marner and Rielly make it, with a decent chance of Freddy joining, and an outside chance for Tavares or Marner.