By Jim Diamond
When the NHL and NHLPA announced the new format for the upcoming All-Star game to be held in Nashville in late January, it was announced that the rosters for the teams that represent each division would be made up of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies for the 3-on-3 division vs. division tournament.
Another big wrinkle for the roster is that each team has to be represented at least once. For the Western Conference, that means the 11 roster spots are to be spread among the seven teams in each division. It is a little tougher in the Eastern Conference, where each division has eight teams.
The NHL will host a fan vote, which will select one player from each division to be named to the All-Star Game. The player who wins the fan vote in each division will be named that team’s captain. A conspiracy theorist might suggest that there is a great chance that Shea Weber may be the Central’s leading vote-getter.
Using the league’s rules, here is my guess at the Central Division’s lineup. With the division being as strong as it is, picking 11 players is a difficult task. Many things can change between now and January.
- Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado)
- Patrick Kane (Chicago)
- Tyler Seguin (Dallas)
- Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis)
- Jamie Benn (Dallas)
- Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg)
Current omissions: James Neal (Nashville), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Miikko Koivu (Minnesota), Artemi Panarin (Chicago)
They are all good, even the ones currently listed on the outside looking in.
- Shea Weber (Nashville)
- Ryan Suter (Minnesota)
- Roman Josi (Nashville)
Current omissions: John Klingberg (Dallas), Colton Parayko (St. Louis), Tyson Barrie (Colorado), Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis)
Let’s call those listed as on the team as the David Poile/Paul Fenton blue line. Klingberg really deserves a place on the team, but when you only have three spots, tough calls are made. There is no chance of Weber not being there, and with the game in Nashville, Josi will get the benefit of any doubt, but he deserves to be there too.
- Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
- Jake Allen (St. Louis)
Current omission: Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota)
Rinne is a virtual lock. Right now, it is basically a coin flip between Allen and Dubnyk for the other spot.
Again, a lot can happen before the rosters are announced. Who do you have?