Who will be the New York Rangers’ 2018 All Star?
There has been no lack of excitement so far as the 2017-2018 NHL season’s quarter mark has come and gone. Plenty of story lines, a long awaited trade, favorites failing, teams over achieving and tight point races in every division. With American Thanksgiving in the past and 380+ of 1,271 total regular season games played, standings begin to take shape and All Star caliber players begin to emerge. Before we know it, the mid-season mark will be here, the playoff race will just be heating up, and the NHL will pause for the 2018 Honda NHL All Star Weekend.
The most exciting players in the world will soak up the sun as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the City of Tampa host this years events on January 27th and 28th at the AMALIE Arena. The weekend will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and the 3-3 tournament style NHL All-Star Game.
Voting for the 2018 Honda NHL All Star Weekend opens on Saturday, December 2nd. So, who are you voting for? While NHL.com picks the rosters, and fans vote for each Division’s Captains, who will be the most voted for players throughout the league? In each division? And, who will be The New York Rangers All Star?
Let’s break down who the New York Rangers current stars are, and if they’re worth the All Star Vote.
Our All Star the last decade has been no other than Henrik Lundqvist. He’s held the team on his shoulders through deep playoff runs, and holds the record for most wins as a New York Ranger Goaltender. He was voted into three consecutive NHL All Star Games in 2009, 2011 and 2012. There was no All Star Game in 2010 due to the XXI Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Lundqvist owns a long list of records both as a Ranger and league wide among goalies, and is a true franchise player. Is he a current All Star? The answer is no. With a current Goals Against Average of 2.74 and a Save Percentage of .914 Henrik is not playing at the top of his game. Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus is leading the league in Goals Against with an average of 1.92 and a save percentage of .935. At the same time, both Anton Khudobin of Boston and Braden Hotby in Washington are putting up division leading numbers, I don’t think we’ll see Hank in Tampa on January 27th.
The New York Rangers’ Captain, Ryan Mcdonagh has played 21 games this season, is yet to score a goal, but has 12 assists and is a +6 in the plus/ minus category. McDonagh was the latest Ranger to represent the team as he was voted into the 2016 and 2017 NHL ALL Star Games. Will it be a three-peat for Mac Truck? I Don’t think so. Returning from an abdominal strain and without a goal this season, there are other defensemen, including two on the New York Rangers that I feel have been more productive this season, and more deserving of a vote.
The Sophomore has made quite a splash this season including increased playing time, top line production and a very popular Saturday Night Live mention. Brady Skjei is averaging 20+ minutes per game, has two goals, seven assists and is a +5 in 25 games played. Not necessarily “All-Star” numbers, but sometimes d-men are hard to track statistically. Watching him with the puck has been a thing of beauty. Skjei is growing confident, is shooting more, making crisp passes both out of the defensive zone and in the offensive zone, and is a power house on the back check. For these reasons he has my vote as I’d like to see the 23 year old represent the New York Rangers at the 2018 NHL ALL Star Game.
A major off season acquisition, Kevin Shattenkirk has single highhandedly given the New York Rangers’ Power Play some life. With 5 goals, and 13 assists (third on team) his 18 points are the most by any defenseman on the Rangers and fourth on the team overall. While he is a -3 his 21:06 average time on ice per game in 25 games is second to only the Captain, Ryan McDonagh. While Shattenkirk had a slow start to the season, his presence on the power play is undeniable, and he really seems to be getting comfortable living out his childhood dream, playing for The New York Rangers. Shattenkirk represented the St. Louis Blues at the 2015 NHL ALL Star Game. Could he be back this year as a Ranger? As I mentioned above, I’d like to see Skjei in, and there certainly isn’t room for two NYR D-Men on the Metro Division team. While my personal vote would be for Skjei, I think Shattenkirk has a good chance to see the sunny side of Tampa in January.
In his second year as a New York Ranger Mika Zibanejad has proven himself as a top line center. Zibanejad leads the team in Points, Goals, Power Play Goals and Short Handed Goals. He has never played in an All Star Game, is this the year? Mika’s Faceoff Win Percentage is only 50.46% which is only third best on the Rangers and is no where near the division leading 61.40% boasted by the Buffalo Sabres Centermen Ryan O’Reilly. With Crosby, Kuznetsov, Tavares, Hischier, and Giroux all in the mix for the Metro Division top centers, will Mika make the cut? Ranger All-Star Yes, League All Star? I’m not sure. With the recent news of his fifth diagnosed concussion of his career, Mika’s playing time could dwindle moving forward. Let’s hope for a quick recovery for our Top Line Center. His production is key for the Rangers moving forward.
So Who Will it Be?
In my opinion, we’ll see either Zibanejad or Shattenkirk at The 2018 NHL ALL Star Game. We know each team has to be represented. Who is the Rangers’ Star? Who did I miss? Zuccarello? Hayes?
There is a reason it’s hard to predict which one of the Blueshirts will be attending the 63rd NHL ALL Star Game. The New York Rangers do not have a true, team leading “All-Star.” They win with a collective effort all around. Their fourth line typically sees significantly higher on ice minutes than the league average fourth liner does. And, the Blueshirts are one of only two teams with 12 or more players to have 11 points so far this season. Maybe that’s why we’ve only seen four different New York Rangers at The All-Star Game since 2012 (Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh.) Who do you think the New York Rangers’ star player is, who is their next up and coming star? And, who will be voted into the 2018 NHL All Star Weekend? Leave your comments below and Let’s Go Rangers!