The NHL All-Star Game is supposed to be about fun, which is why fan voting often plays a part. This year, the league allowed its supporters to directly name one player from each division in its ‘Last Men In’ vote and the fans came through with four players who each bring intrigue to the festivities in St. Louis. Let’s take a look at what these guys bring to the table.
David Perron, St. Louis (Central Division)
This was a no-brainer, given that the Blues are hosting the event. St. Louis already had Ryan O’Reilly, Jordan Binnington and Alex Pietrangelo on the Central roster, but no one in the crowd is going to complain about one more. And Perron is a deserving winner. It can be hard for a team to keep up the pace in the season following a Stanley Cup victory, but Perron is having his best NHL season ever. The talented and tenacious right winger is a point-per-gamer for the Blues, bringing some much-needed goal-scoring to a team that is missing Vladimir Tarasenko due to injury. And you know he’s gonna go all-out in front of the home fans, especially as a first-timer to All-Star Weekend.
T.J. Oshie, Washington (Metropolitan Division)
Another player with local ties, Oshie spent seven seasons with the Blues before getting traded to the Capitals, so there’s a nostalgic angle to his vote-in. But I would also argue that Oshie is the type of player who brings guys together with his personality – which is not only important when you’re winning a Cup as the Caps did two years ago, but also when you’re at an event like All-Star Weekend, which is supposed to be loose. So Oshie brings the right mindset to the proceedings, while the shootout prowess that made him so famous at the Olympics gets another big stage for him to shine on.
Mitch Marner, Toronto (Atlantic Division)
A first-timer for the All-Star Game, Marner was a pretty good candidate to win this category since he plays for the most popular team in the NHL. But he’s also a deserving winner. Marner’s hands and hockey mind are tailor-made for this event, where skill far outweighs any other aspect of a normal NHL game. And with linemate Auston Matthews also on the Atlantic roster, you’re gonna see some excellent chemistry out there. Personally, I can’t wait to see a Marner/Matthews/Jack Eichel combo out there. Also, being a first-timer means Marner should be up for anything in the skills competition – which is necessary during a weekend when some of the veterans can get a little hesitant with their participation.
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver (Pacific Division)
Another first-timer for ASG, Hughes joins a Pacific squad that should be a ton of fun to watch because only a couple of players (Anze Kopitar and Connor McDavid) have been regulars at the event – so Hughes isn’t the only newbie of the crew. The Canucks rookie does bring a lot of skating and skill to the table however, so he’ll be fun to watch on the ice. As the perfect defenseman for these types of games, Hughes can use his roving powers to their full extent and the idea of him getting the puck up to the likes of McDavid or Vancouver teammate Elias Pettersson is pretty exciting. Like Marner, Hughes should be up for anything in the skills competition and it’s always good to have that new blood coursing through the festivities.