With the end of the NHL regular season drawing to a close and the award season drawing near, we can reflect on some outstanding play this year. Who will make the NHL All-Star team? Players from across the four divisions have treated us to historical scoring feats, bounce-back seasons and huge rookie starts. Highlight reel plays full of elite skill have been the talk of the league from plenty of superstars. However, only six can make the team of the year.
Let’s have a look at those whose stars have shone the brightest, by starting with the left-wing position. Please note that each player is eligible for one position. Therefore, players such as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl cannot be placed at wing to accommodate their tremendous seasons along with the player already selected at centre.
2021-22 NHL-All Star Team Projections
Left Wing: Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
After a couple of seasons of struggling to find that elite form, the Panthers looked great in the regular season. A major contributing factor is the play from Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Canadian has been on fire this season, starting strong enough to earn an All-Star nod. Huberdeau broke the record for the most assists by a left-winger (71) with 15 games spare. He then added a further 14 assists to finish as the league’s leader. When combined with his 30 goals, he finished joint second in the overall points charts and will be considered a strong contender for the Art Ross next season.
The left-wing position was stacked with incredible talent this year, with Alex Ovechkin’s historic scoring feats, Chris Kreider potting a shock 52 goals and Johnny Gaudreau bouncing back with a 115-point season. However, it is hard to see past the unbelievable contributions Huberdeau has made to his team from the second line.
Centre: Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
The 2016 1st overall pick has managed a career year captaining the Atlantic Division at the All-Star Game. He also finished the season scoring an astonishing 60 goals in just 73 games; Matthews’ 46 assists also place him sixth in the points race. The 2017 Calder Trophy winner’s goal-scoring prowess has seen him become the first Leaf to net 55 in a regular season and the quickest player in Toronto history to score 50 (62 games). Matthews’ streak has also seen him become the highest-scoring American in a single season.
Aside from his goalscoring efforts, Matthews’ two-way game has improved. He does not see too much penalty kill time, but his strong defensive contributions. That combined with a Rocket Richard win will undoubtedly see him get a substantial number of votes in many categories.
Right-Wing: Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s not often a player who is not even the best on their own line would make the all-star selection. However, while Matthews is the clear star in Toronto, Mitch Marner has quietly played some of the best hockey in the NHL, maintaining his role as an essential member of the Leafs’ top-six.
Toronto’s homegrown star has had a huge bounce back after a disappointing playoff series against Montreal, with a huge 35 goals and 62 assists. Admittedly, his stats do not immediately pop, but his playmaking is clearly elite. Marner finished joint 11th highest in the league for assists after playing 72 games, behind only future Hall of Famer Patrick Kane for his position. He also finished 10th overall in points, making him the highest-scoring right-winger
With a strong start in the playoffs, the Leafs will be hoping Marner can stay consistent. This may help them avoid an early exit and make a deep run.
Left Defence: Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
Nashville was a surprise package this year and Roman Josi has been essential to making the Predators a somewhat surprising playoff team.
Despite being a defenceman, the Swiss’ fine form has seen him finish fifth in the league for assists with 73. Josi has also added 23 goals to his impressive scoring record, the second-highest tally for his position. It also made him the league’s highest-scoring defenceman. Josi’s scoring has also made franchise history for the Preds, with the club’s captain now holding the single-season records for both assists and total points.
It is an elite skill-set like this makes Josi a prime candidate to take home the Norris Trophy. It also makes him a shoo-in for the all-star selection.
Right Defence: Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche have possibly the best team in the league and despite his young age, Cale Makar is leading their strong blue line once again.
Unsurprisingly, the Alberta native ended the season top of the goals defenceman scoring charts with 28. He has also contributed heavily to his teammates’ scoring in other areas.
Makar, the 2020 Calder Trophy winner, is considered a perennial Norris Trophy winner. He’ll also be in the running to take home many more through his career.
Goaltender: Igor Shesterkin, New York Rangers
What a season the Russian shot-stopper has had. This young Rangers team is rising fast, with the Blueshirts’ skaters playing with the confidence that their last line of defence is as solid as a rock.
Igor Shesterkin ended his excellent year with the best goals against average (2.07) and save percentage (.935%). He also recorded the fifth-best win percentage (.735%) and six shutouts, good for third in the league.
For a goaltender aged just 26, these Vezina worthy numbers make Shesterkin a no-brainer for the all-star selection