After the way the entire nation of Latvia and fans of the Blackhawks slammed the fan voting, many were concerned that the Blue Jackets might only have token representation at the 2015 NHL All Star Game, despite being the club hosting the event.
Now that the full roster of selected players has been announced, fans can breathe a little easier: They'll have boys to root for.
Nick Foligno, Ryan Johansen, and Sergei Bobrovsky will be representing the Blue Jackets - the first time in club history that the team has had more than one player selected. (Technically. The club has had situations where one player was named to the actual all star team, and one or two rookies were tapped for the "Youngstars" squads, but that doesn't exactly count.)
Foligno was likely the easiest, if most surprising, selection. Ranked 16th in overall scoring with 17 goals and 22 assists on the season, he's also tied for 2nd in the NHL for both power play goals and power play points. He's having a monster season, and it's great to see him recognized.
Ryan Johansen is probably the "face" for the team - I suspect that most fans know who he is, even if he isn't exactly a household name yet. That said, he's right behind Foligno with 38 points on the year. Johansen's also been money setting up the power play (particularly Foligno), earning a spot in the top five for PP assists.
Finally, and most certainly not least, Bob will be there to backstop someone to victory, though thanks to the draft format we don't actually know which team the former Vezina winner will be on. The NHL has yet to release who will be the team captains for the event, but they have confirmed the draft will be held at 8pm on Friday, January 23rd, here in Columbus, and broadcast nationally on NBCSN.
Here's a full breakdown of the selected players:
Zemguis Girgensons - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Ryan Getzlaf - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Patrice Bergeron - Sidney Crosby - Evgeni Malkin
Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Tyler Seguin
Vladimir Tarasenko - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Steven Stamkos
Anze Kopitar - Patrick Elias - Tyler Johnson
Phil Kessel - John Tavares - Radim Vrbata
Rick Nash - Alexander Ovechkin - Bobby Ryan
Brent Seabrook - Duncan Keith
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Ryan Suter
Mark Giordano - Shea Weber
Justin Faulk - Brent Burns
Eric Johnson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Drew Doughty - Dustin Byfuglien
Interesting choices there. Every team is represented, but there are certainly some names missing compared to previous years. I'm sure some players may have been offered a spot and elected to stay home to give themselves a chance to rehab injuries and get healthier, but given the amount of exciting young talent here, I think we're also seeing a true changing of the guard when it comes to the top players in the league. Don't be surprised if we see more of this in the next few years.
Speaking of, here's a look at the rookie selections, who will be participating in the skills competition, but not skating in the actual All Star Game:
Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Aaron Ekblad, Mike Hoffman, Tanner Pearson, and Jonathan Drouin.
My only objection on this list is Forsberg - frankly, he's having the kind of season that probably deserves recognition as an All Star, period, but given the virtual lock that Shea Weber has on a nomination and the need to represent all 30 teams, I can understand why they chose to put him in this category - for now.
What do you think? Excited to see the Jackets so well represented? Surprised at any omissions? Interested in some unexpected faces? Let us know, and feel free to check out our predictions from the other day to see how we did!