After announcing the team captains for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game earlier this week, the league will finalize the rest of the rosters for the game on Wednesday. Fan votes decided the captains, and the NHL's department of hockey operations will decide the rest.
Each team in the league will be represented at the game, because that's how these things work. But if the All-Star Game were a true meritocracy, the Philadelphia Flyers would not be represented, because none of them are deserving.
First, a quick refresher: the All-Star format is different this year, with six teams -- one from each division. They'll play a 3-on-3 tournament, with the Atlantic Division team taking on the Metropolitan Division team in one semifinal and the Pacific Division team taking on the Central Division in the other. The winners will play to decide a champion.
Alex Ovechkin was voted in as the Metropolitan captain, which means five more forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders will be selected by the league. Neither of the Flyers goaltenders are tops in the division, and lololol if you think any of the defensemen are.
Claude Giroux will make the team because the Flyers need a representative, and he is certainly the best option on their roster. He's also insanely talented and totally deserving of an All-Star nod in most seasons, and thus will make a fine All-Star this year. But based on his season thus far, he's just not deserving. (For the record, neither is Sidney Crosby -- the two Pennsylvania captains have the same 29 points through 37 games this season.)
The chief criteria in picking this team (or at least the forwards) should be point production -- it's a 3-on-3 game and it's going to be all offense. So, let's look at the top scorers in the division so far this season.
|9||Scott Hartnell||Blue Jackets||L||39||15||14||29|
|13||Brandon Saad||Blue Jackets||L||39||16||13||29|
But wait! Giroux is good at 3-on-3, you might say. That doesn't show on the score sheet -- he has just one assist at 3-on-3 this season -- but he's solid at driving play in OT. Among the 21 Metropolitan Division forwards who have played seven or more minutes of 3-on-3 this season, Giroux ranks sixth with a 62.16 Corsi for percentage. Expand that to all NHL forwards who have played seven or more minutes and Giroux ranks 16th.
But that can't really override pure scoring touch, and there are simply other players in the division who are having better years. If you were straight up picking the most deserving players at this stage of the 2015-16 season, you'd go with Ovechkin, Malkin, Kuznetsov, Cammalleri, Backstrom and Okposo or Zuccarello. (Zuccarello has played more 3-on-3, if you're using that as a tiebreak.)
Taking position into account, three guys on that list are centers who are having better years than Giroux. And then consider that a disproportionate chunk of Giroux's scoring comes on the power play -- something that probably won't be of much use in the All-Star Game.
I don't want this to come off like Giroux is having a bad season. It hasn't been his best season, but one could stand to be in worse company than John Tavares and Sidney Crosby. This is more to say that the Metropolitan Division is really good this year, and in the small 40 game portion of one single season that All-Star decisions are based off of, Giroux hasn't been worthy.
Luckily for us, though, the rules ensure he'll be there anyway.