Earlier this week the NHL unveiled the first 32 players to be selected to this year’s all-star game in Sunrise, Florida. One player from each team has been selected. Among the eight from the Atlantic there are two first time all-stars, a pair of brothers and a four timer.
Linus Ullmark
One of the first timers, Bruins goaltender Ullmark is currently the runaway favourite for the Vezina Trophy. He leads the league in wins (22), GAA (1.87), and SV% (.938). He is on pace to shatter his career best in all three categories. With 22 wins in 25 appearances he could come close to doubling his career high of 26 by the season’s end.
If he is able to continue this level of dominance, he should be seriously considered for the Hart Trophy as well. No goaltender has won the award since Carey Price in 2015 and only seven goalies have won the award since its inception in 1924.
Tage Thompson
The other first timer, Thompson is second in the Atlantic in goals (31) and points (56). His emergence as an elite player this season has been a pleasant surprise for the Sabres. While he is fourth in the league in points, it doesn’t look like anyone will be catching Connor McDavid for the Art Ross Trophy. He is however in the thick of the Rocket Richard Trophy race.
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Thompson broke out last season scoring 38 goals and 68 points in 78 games and somehow he’s having a breakout season again. His 31 goals are just two back of McDavid for the league lead. He is on pace to score 68.
In a division packed with elite talent like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and David Pastrnak it’s absolutely insane that Thompson has been arguably the most impressive so far this season. The Sabres got a good one here, this will be the first of many trips to the all-star game for him.
Matthew Tkachuk
His first season in Florida hasn’t gone as planned but Tkachuk will be representing the Panthers in front of his home fans at the ASG. Despite the lack of team success, he is having one of his best offensive seasons and should hit 100 points for the second time in his career. This will be his second trip to the ASG.
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In 38 games he has 20 goals and 49 points. He leads the Panthers in both categories and is 17 points ahead of his next teammate. If the Panthers fail to make the post-season it won’t be a total loss for Tkachuk. At least he will get to team up with his brother Brady.
Brady Tkachuk
It will be a special weekend for the Tkachuk family in early February. This will be the first time the two brothers have played together at any level.
Brady will represent the Senators at the ASG for the third time in his young career. He set career highs in goals (30) and points (67) last season. In 39 games this year he has scored 14 goals and leads the Sens with 40 points.
The Senators captain has a good chance to be a point per game player for the first time in his career. He could also set a career mark in goals.
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Nikita Kucherov
Kucherov is the most veteran all-star among those selected from the Atlantic. This will be his fourth trip to the ASG.
His 55 points are good for sixth in the league and his 41 assists are tied for second. With all the breakout players this season, Kucherov’s brilliance hasn’t been talked about enough. He leads Tampa Bay in scoring by 12 points and has them firmly in the conversation as Stanley Cup contenders yet again.
Dylan Larkin
For the third time in his career, Larkin will be the Red Wings representative at the ASG. His offensive numbers this season don’t scream all-star but it’s worth noting he has developed into one of the best two-way forwards in the league and could see some votes for the Selke Trophy.
In 37 games he has 13 goals and 33 points. He leads Detroit in both categories.
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Nick Suzuki
Suzuki will be heading to the ASG for the Canadiens for the second time in his career. He leads the Habs with 34 points in 40 games.
It’s been a solid season for the young Habs captain but if weren’t for the league making each team have a representative, he’d be nowhere near this game. Although he leads the Habs in scoring by two points, it’s surprising he got the nod over Cole Caufield who has 23 goals in 40 games.
Mitch Marner
Any of the Leafs top three scorers could have been picked here but it’s Marner who will be representing the blue and white in Sunrise. He’s driven the bus on most nights for this team and given the fact he went on a 23 game point streak, it’s a well deserved nomination.
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He is tied for the team lead in points with 46 and leads the team in assists with 31. This will be his second trip to the ASG.
Other all-stars
Three more players from each division will be selected for the ASG via a fan vote. Voting will begin January 12th at midnight and run until January 14th at 11:59 PM. Two skaters and one goalie will be selected from each division.
In a just world, Rasmus Dahlin (BUF), David Pastrnak (BOS) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB) would be selected.
Dahlin has clearly been the best defenceman in the division this year and is arguably the favourite for the Norris Trophy. In 36 games he has 12 goals and 44 points.
Pastrnak is leading the best team in the league in goals and has a chance to win the Rocket for the second time in his career.  He is second in the league with 32 goals and his 58 points are third. He leads the Atlantic in both categories.
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Vasilevskiy is statistically the second best goalie in the division this year and there really isn’t any other goalie that rivals him. Both Leafs goalies and the Sabres Craig Anderson are in the same ballpark as Vasilevskiy in terms of SV% and GAA but they all have significantly less starts.
Other skaters that deserve some votes are Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Tim Stutzle, Alex Tuch, Steven Stamkos and Brad Marchand.