The Chicago Blackhawks will be represented at the NHL All-Star Game by their two brightest stars, as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will represent the Central Division in the annual event.
Kane was chosen via a fan vote to serve as the team’s captain, and Toews was one of five forwards named to the roster on Wednesday morning. The duo will be part of a team attempting to win a $1 million prize in the first ever 3-on-3 tournament in the history of All-Star weekend.
While both players do have compelling arguments to be on the Central Division roster, one question has crept up in the minds of Hawks fans: were there any other Chicago players that were snubbed from the roster?
Three names immediately come to mind as potential contenders that could have made the team, and all three could conceviably make the roster if an injury occurs between now and the game in late January.
The Blackhawks have been dealing with plenty of issues on their blue line this season, but it has not seemed to faze Crawford at all. The Hawks’ goaltender has a 2.22 goals against average this season, and despite a heavier workload he has helped the team to remain in playoff contention while they get their issues sorted out.
There are two reasons that Crawford was kept off of the roster. The first is that all seven Central Division teams had to be represented on the roster, and Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk was the lone Wild player to make the squad. Crawford also missed out because the league wanted to add plenty of Predators players for their hometown All-Star Game, and goaltender Pekka Rinne was one of the three Nashville stars to make it.
An argument could be made that Crawford could have been included in place of Dubnyk, but then the question would be which Minnesota player would get onto the team. Zach Parise is always an attractive option at forward (which would likely mean Toews’ removal from the mix), and Ryan Suter would have been a suitable alternative with his ties to the Nashville area.
If there has been one player whose offensive performance has been closely linked to Kane’s, it would have to be that of Panarin. The rookie forward is a likely favorite for the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie, and his scoring touch is unquestioned, as he displayed on Tuesday night in a two-goal performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It would be interesting to see which player would draw out if Panarin wanted to make the lineup, especially with the number of talented wingers on the Central Division roster. Toews is one of only two centers, joining Tyler Seguin, and having five wingers and a center as the forward group would potentially cause an issue in terms of lineup balance.
There were only three defensemen included on the roster, with Shea Weber and Roman Josi both representing the Predators and Dustin Byfuglien serving as the lone representative for the Winnipeg Jets. With that limited of a field, it’s not surprising that Seabrook wasn’t included, but he certainly had a good case for inclusion.
That case begins with his play during Duncan Keith’s absence earlier this season, as he responded to the pressure with some excellent offensive play and really consistent defensive play. His six goals and 21 assists certainly meet the All-Star requirement, and he was definitely a viable candidate if the NHL had used a different format that allowed for a more imbalanced All-Star lineup.