The NHL announced the four captains of the All-Star Game over the weekend. Without much surprise, Washington Capitals leader and future Hall of Famer Alex Ovechkin was elected by fans to captain the Metro Division team. But which player or players will represent the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose star players have otherwise been ravaged by injury?
David Pastrnak (BOS) will lead the Atlantic, Nathan MacKinnon (COL) will captain the Central Division and Connor McDavid was elected to helm the Pacific. The NHL will select the other 36 players, which is where the fun starts.
A question posed by a subscriber was astute: Should Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry make the 2020 NHL All-Star Game?
The answer is unfortunately complicated. Yes, but no.
The Penguins have a few worthy candidates for the Metro Division team, beginning with Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. There was some push from the Penguins-affiliated outlets last month for Guentzel to get All-Star votes. However, only 11 players from each division, including two goalies make the squad.
You can check out our chat with Guentzel about making the ASG.
Getting multiple players into the All-Star game is difficult in the uber-competitive Metro Division. The Penguins had two players, Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby on the team last year. Washington also had a pair of players, John Carlson and Braden Holtby play in the game (Ovechkin was selected, but backed out).
But after one player on the squad, it gets tricky to add more. The politics of including a representative come into play. Star power comes into play, too. After all, it is a show and home ice for the Stanley Cup Final does not rest on the outcome. *Ahem MLB.
Pittsburgh Penguins Potentials
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel does have a solid case for a spot in the game, which will be played at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis next month. In 36 games, Guentzel has 37 points which are 14th best in the NHL, and his 18 goals tie him for 12th in the NHL. Guentzel has been one of the best forwards in the league this season and certainly one of the best in the Metro.
Malkin also has a case, because he’s been in beast mode when healthy, and he’s Evgeni Malkin. The big Russian center scored a whopping 31 points in just 23 games and he has carried the Penguins in Sidney Crosby’s injury absence.
And don’t forget defenseman Kris Letang, who is under perennial consideration because he is one of the best defensemen in the NHL. This season, Letang has 25 points (9g, 16a) in 28 games, which is 13th best in the NHL amongst defensemen and third-best among the Metro defensemen.
But what about Jarry?
“A young Cinderella, out of nowhere…,” or so Bill Murray’s iconic groundskeeper from Caddy Shack may say.
However, this is where politics, name recognition and scarcity of spots come into play. Does Jarry deserve a spot in the 2020 NHL All-Star game? Yes. Without question, yes.
But, who else would represent the New York Rangers if not goalie Henrik Lundqvist? Who will represent the Columbus Blue Jackets–perhaps Gustav Nyquist who leads rebuilding Columbus with only 26 points (9g, 17a) in 36 games. Seth Jones is one of the best defenders in the division and has 22 points. Joonas Korpisalo could get the nod with 16 wins and a .910 save percentage.
Points count for a lot in All-Star selection. It is a 3v3 tournament, after all.
Jarry’s resume is quite bold and he should be in the game. He is the NHL leader in save percentage (.938) and NHL leader in Goals Against Average (1.86). Jarry would be one of the top snubs should he not make it, but only two goalies will be selected.
New York Rangers and Columbus don’t have many choices. The same goes for the cellar-dwelling New Jersey Devils. While New Jersey doesn’t have a goalie worthy of ASG selection, that means a lesser player will take a roster spot somewhere else…and the challenge to include everyone begins.
Because Tristan Jarry has less than 50 NHL games on his resume, he may be the last of the Penguins potentials to be selected, despite his superior resume. It wasn’t until the past month when Jarry claimed the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie position. Even now, head coach Mike Sullivan artfully dodges questions which would confirm that.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will likely get two players into the game. But Jarry?
Perhaps if Sullivan tabbed him, “the man,” or he was widely recognized around the league as the next great goalie prospect, he would be a shoo-in. The NHL would have to include the young phenom. However, Jarry has started only 16 games and despite superior numbers and otherworldly play, he will probably get lost in the shuffle because the NHL does not yet have the mandate to showcase him.
Holtby and Lundqvist are the likely netminders for the Metro. They’re unquestioned starters and they’re playing very well.
But, I’ve been wrong before. Predicting the actions of the NHL is a lot like predicting the weather. All signs can point one way, but they go another. The rosters are typically announced within a day of the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
Yes, Jarry should be in the All-Star game, but unfortunately, it just isn’t that simple…even if his numbers are the best, there is just enough wiggle room to leave him off in favor of established stars.
Perhaps next year?
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