Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Which Canuck will the NHL invite to a reimagined All-Star Weekend in Toronto?
1 month ago
This year’s NHL All-Star Weekend is a little under a month away, and the Vancouver Canucks have a massive problem; they’ve got too many all-stars.
No matter where you stand on the point of All-Star Weekend, the NHL considers it one of their marquee events on the calendar for a reason. And with this year’s Toronto backdrop, a Skills competition pitting just 12 players against each other, and a new team selection process, the 2024 edition is bound to be one of the more fascinating in recent memory.
This year’s format takes the existing 3-on-3 tournament format from recent seasons and adds in an old fan favourite: the Player Draft, with the respective team captains picking their players, which was used from 2011 to 2013.
According to league insider Chris Johnston, the NHL will name the first 32 All-Stars tomorrow – one from each team – before fans are given the reigns to vote for the remaining 12.
That means one Canuck will be officially invited tomorrow, but for the rest of their high-octane roster? Welcome to the battle royale of fan voting.
Canucks fans have great arguments for at least five of their players, but the strongest case for an All-Star invite? Quinn Hughes, the Norris frontrunner currently leading all defencemen in points with 46 and sitting ninth in league scoring.
Hughes is as close to a lock as any player can get. Even if the league were not to pick him in Wednesday’s announcement, his league-wide reputation and connection to a certain pair of players in New Jersey make him an easy choice for voters. And maybe that near-guarantee is why the league should give the first spot to someone with a little less name recognition.
That leaves Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller and Thatcher Demko. Demko’s odds of getting the call are arguably just as high as Hughes’, with few goalies coming anywhere close to matching his stats this season, while Pettersson and Miller have plenty of brand awareness as well.
That’s where Brock Boeser comes in. At 24 goals, the man is well on pace to break the 30-goal plateau and is tied with Florida’s Sam Reinhart (what a weird year) for third in goals. Only Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov are currently ahead of them.
But out of the Canucks’ big five, Boeser is also the most likely to have a hard time sailing through fan vote waters. While the hardest of core fans in the league will recognize him, more casual observers are more likely to know Pettersson, Hughes, Demko, and even Miller.
Some of you might be going, “How does Boeser have less name recognition than Miller? Brock’s literally been an All-Star MVP before, and Miller’s never been.” 2018 was a long time ago, and a lot has changed about Boeser and the Canucks’ standing within the league’s hierarchy since. Plus, Miller is currently the team’s leading scorer, which makes him a very hard player to leave off the ballot.
In a shocking twist, the player with arguably the weakest case of the five might be Pettersson, the face of the franchise himself.
Pettersson has just five fewer points than Miller and one less than Hughes, but hasn’t been as consistent as his four co-stars and might need an extra push to get into this year’s All-Star festivities because of it. Pettersson is undoubtedly an All-Star at the height of his power, but with so many stars sharing a bench with him, this might be the first ASG he gets to use on a much-deserved vacation instead.
In a world where every team gets an All-Star invite regardless of actual merit, not all five of these players will get the call. And leaving any of these players at home will be disappointing to portions of the fanbase, no matter how you slice it.
But if not enough slots in the All-Star Game is the price to pay for the third-best team in the National Hockey League, then just about any Canucks fan will tell you it’s one worth paying.
Which Canucks would you send to the All-Star Game? Let us know in the comments below!
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