Hutch's Hockey: Best of the Rest

Hutch's Hockey: Best of the Rest

It's that time of year where players are getting recognized for their accomplishments this season. The All-Star Game is less than a week away, and to the NHL's credit, I think the league mostly got the rosters right. I liked a vast majority of the picks for the first 32 players, aside from a couple of head-scratchers. The fan vote could have used a bit more transparency, but deserving players still made it. Under the format as it is currently constructed, I'd give it an A-. It's not perfect, but I don't have as many complaints as I've had in years past. 

Initially, I envisioned this to be a discussion of snubs. That doesn't really hold up now -- there's no one going to the ASG that's clearly out of place. It's a little rough for the defensemen, as only five of them were selected, but that may just be a testament to the league's impressive scoring depth among forwards. Overall, there are just too many worthy players and not enough roster spots. 

For this exercise, I present my picks for what amounts to the "second-team All-Stars" for each division. Since the NHL has already made sure each club is represented, I'll bypass that requirement for my proposed extensions of each division's roster. I will, however, make a couple of other adjustments to the criteria. Each second team will have six forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie -- thank the Pacific Division's absolute lack of goaltending standouts for that last bit. Should the NHL need replacements for the main event this week, there's a good chance most of them come from these lists. Selections are based on a fantasy league that measures goals, assists, plus-minus, power-play points, shots on goal, hits, and blocked shots for skaters and wins, GAA, saves, save percentage and shutouts for goalies, with some judgment calls away from the default. 

Atlantic Division

F William Nylander, Maple Leafs
F John Tavares, Maple Leafs
F Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
F Brad Marchand, Bruins
F Alex Tuch, Sabres
F Brayden Point, Lightning
D Rasmus Dahlin, Sabres
D Hampus Lindholm, Bruins
D Brandon Montour, Panthers
G Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

Dahlin was the top player not initially named to an All-Star roster -- he ranks behind only Connor McDavid and David Pastrnak in the format described above. The Atlantic Division's forwards are absolutely stacked. Guys like Jeff Skinner, Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Hagel just missed the cut, and I think that's a fair line despite their strong seasons. This was also the only division that didn't have a defenseman named to the original All-Star roster, leading to Mikhail Sergachev, Filip Hronek, Charlie McAvoy and Victor Hedman all falling short of this unofficial second-team honor. Samsonov was the obvious choice in goal behind the already-selected Ullmark and Vasilevskiy. No Canadiens came close to making this supplemental list. 

Metropolitan Division

F Mika Zibanejad, Rangers
F Nico Hischier, Devils
F Jesper Bratt, Devils
F Martin Necas, Hurricanes
F Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
F Vincent Trocheck, Rangers
D Dougie Hamilton, Devils
D Brent Burns, Hurricanes
D K'Andre Miller, Rangers
G Darcy Kuemper, Capitals

In my head, I wanted to right the NHL's biggest wrong in All-Star selections, which was having Kevin Hayes over Travis Konecny as the Flyers' representative. Instead, I stuck with my list, which bolstered what is already a Rangers-heavy roster with three more -- and Chris Kreider was the first forward out, with Konecny second. Defense was another story. The Metropolitan team better hope it can outscore its problems or get big saves, as the blueliners here weren't all that impressive, outside of Hamilton. Noah Dobson (lower body) was in consideration, but that injury means he wouldn't have been able to go. Jacob Trouba's physical play had him ranked highly, but I opted to include Miller, who has been a bigger scoring threat. Kuemper's league-leading five shutouts helped propel him onto this roster as well, narrowly surpassing Vitek Vanecek. The forward talent in this division meant there were no other Islanders or Blue Jackets within sight to add to this list. 

Central Division

F Joe Pavelski, Stars
F Kyle Connor, Jets
F Pierre-Luc Dubois, Jets
F Jamie Benn, Stars
F Roope Hintz, Stars
F Joel Eriksson Ek, Wild
D Roman Josi, Predators
D Miro Heiskanen, Stars
D Jared Spurgeon, Wild
G Jake Oettinger, Stars

The fan vote did well to get more Jets at the actual All-Star Game, but I found room for a couple more of them on the second team. The Stars ended up being even bigger beneficiaries of a stats-based approach -- their whole top line, plus the resurgent Benn and potential Vezina candidate Oettinger, would be at the event with these expanded rosters. Josi was another highly ranked player that was overlooked by the league in its initial round of selections. Oettinger likely could have made it from there over Juuse Saros, but that's no disrespect to selecting Jason Robertson as the Stars' lone official representative. I also decided to stick with the numbers for Spurgeon, though perhaps it would have been Jakob Chychrun had he started the season healthy. The Central already has three blueliners going to the ASG, so this division's defense is well-represented. The Avalanche's best players were already on the roster, while the Blackhawks and Blues didn't have anyone come particularly close, likely due to the criteria including plus-minus as a measurement. 

Pacific Division

F Zach Hyman, Oilers
F Timo Meier, Sharks
F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers
F J.T. Miller, Canucks
F Tyler Toffoli, Flames
F Elias Lindholm, Flames
D Adam Larsson, Kraken
D Vince Dunn, Kraken
D Rasmus Andersson, Flames
G Martin Jones, Kraken

As I mentioned above, goaltending is the Pacific's big weakness. The fans voted in Stuart Skinner, who missed the last game before the break with an illness. If he doesn't go, I'd imagine it would be Jones who gets the call instead with the Oilers already thoroughly represented. Speaking of the Oilers, their two newest 60-point guys, Hyman and Nugent-Hopkins, would join the dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl if rosters expanded. On defense, the Kraken's top pair of Larsson and Dunn continue to impress me -- they've been one of the best all-around pairings in the league this season. Thanks to a high hit total, Luke Schenn has been a high-end fantasy blueliner this year, but I couldn't bring myself to select him, instead going with Andersson, who narrowly surpassed Alex Pietrangelo. It seems strange to think that just one Golden Knight and one King each would be at the All-Star Game even with these expanded rosters. That is perhaps more of a testament to Vegas' injuries and Los Angeles' balanced attack. On the less surprising side of things, I couldn't find room for another Duck, though I would argue that Trevor Zegras maybe should have been selected over Troy Terry to begin with. 

Now, to the week ahead. With only six total games spread over three days for the first half of a two-week fantasy scoring period, there's not much you can do to add to your rosters that will generate an instant impact. That doesn't mean you just sit by idly -- now's a great time to stream some players and rotate the bottom part of your roster, just to see what might stick after the break. 

In goal, Anton Forsberg is again earning some attention. Shutting out Montreal isn't all that special, but his win over the Maple Leafs on Friday should turn some heads. He went 5-2-0 with a 2.83 GAA and a .907 save percentage in January, but he allowed just three goals total over his last three starts of the month. He gets the Canadiens again on Tuesday in what should be a fantastic streaming spot. 

It's tough to trust the Blue Jackets in just about anything, but Joonas Korpisalo managed a .900 save percentage in January. The Capitals remain inconsistent, and it seems like he's Columbus' top option in goal, so he should be favored to start Tuesday. He won't solve all your problems, but he might be a solid short-term fix if you need goalie games. 

Kirby Dach put up nine points in 13 contests in January. That's solid work for a team that hasn't shown a lot of offense. The 22-year-old looks locked in as the second-line center for the Canadiens now, and he'll continue to log time with the first power-play unit. His 32 points in 50 outings have already earned him a career year, but the Habs have been able to unlock some offense the Blackhawks couldn't in his first three campaigns. Dach's a solid add for this week, and you may just want to see what he does over the last two months of the season. 

The Red Wings aren't in action this week, but I'm once again encouraging those of you in deeper formats to consider Michael Rasmussen. The 23-year-old has lost his power-play role, but he's earned two goals and five helpers over his last seven games anyway. He's a top-six option right now, though he's playing on the wing rather than in his natural center position. Rasmussen has 24 points and 105 hits through 46 contests overall, so there's more than just offense building his case for fantasy relevance. 

Ottawa's Jake Sanderson is getting hot again. He's picked up four assists over his last three contests, and he'll have one more chance to add to that total Tuesday versus Montreal. The 20-year-old defenseman's current three-game point streak is the longest of his career, but all signs are pointing to him continuing to grow in the second half of the campaign. I'm keeping an eye on him for now -- if Thomas Chabot appears to even break a toenail, Sanderson's the guy I want on my fantasy roster ASAP. 

Here's another one for the "save for later" pile: Mikey Eyssimont. The 26-year-old never really got much of a chance in Winnipeg, but he's found new life with the Sharks, posting six points in his first 10 games in teal. He's a power winger who still has some work to do on the scoring side of things, but the Sharks' lackluster options up front should give him an opportunity to chip in. He's getting some power-play time and working on the second line at even strength, so he's worth a look, especially with four points over his last two outings. 

With nine points through 12 outings in January, fantasy managers just have to hope the All-Star break doesn't sap all of Blake Coleman's momentum. When he's scoring, he's an ideal depth guy to roster -- he won't give you anything on the power play, but he might chip in a shorthanded point and he hits well without hurting you anywhere else. The Flames' loss to the Blackhawks on Thursday prompted a successful line shuffle Friday in Seattle, which saw Coleman get up alongside Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau. That probably won't last, but it was his work with Mikael Backlund and Andrew Mangiapane that made Coleman effective over the last month, so there's a solid fall-back option in place. 

I always appreciate the All-Star break. While the game itself isn't everyone's cup of tea, it's still a feel-good part of the NHL calendar. Even for those who aren't selected to play, there's still plenty of passionate fans in their corner, making noise in favor of them on social media. Enjoy the peace and quiet this week, and I'll have you ready to go for a busier post-All-Star week with my usual crop of free-agent fare next Monday. 

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Shawn Hutchinson
Shawn has covered sports independently since 2010, and joined RotoWire in 2019. He serves as a beat writer for the Calgary Flames and contributes in hockey and baseball. Shawn also enjoys soccer, rooting on his hometown teams: Sounders FC and Reign FC.
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