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All Star Team Snubs

Leon Draisaitl finished second in NHL scoring with 84 points. But he didn’t make the second All-star team. Was it a snub? How many other top scoring forwards didn’t make the first or second team all-star squad? I decided to take a dive into previous years and see what occurred.

I went back to 1979-1980 when the NHL expanded to 21 teams and only looked at the forward positions. Here are some players who I felt had a strong case to make either the first or second team and got overlooked. Some years there were many really qualified players, and the choices were tough, while other years there were some “snubs.” And some seasons there were three or four players at one position who had great seasons so someone was left off the ballot. Those definitely weren’t snubs.

1982… No snub, but what a race for second team centre spot. Peter Stastny scored 46-93-139, Denis Maruk tallied 60-76-136 and Bryan Trottier had 50-79-129. Trottier got the nod, likely because he finished +70 that season.

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1983…Stastny finished second in league scoring with 47-77-124. Wayne Gretzky led with 196. Denis Savard was third with 35-86-121. Savard got the second team centre nod ahead of Stastny. Both had great seasons, but when looking at voting in other years the player with a clear goal advantage usually won. I believe Stastny was the greatest player in NHL history never to make the first or second all-star team. From 1980/1981-1989/1990 Stastny had the second most points in the NHL with 1,059 in 749 games. Only Gretzky scored more with 1,842.

1988…Jari Kurri was second among RW with 46-53-96 (1.20 points/game, PPG), but Cam Neely 42-27-69 in 69 games got the second team nod. Kurri had a pretty solid case finishing 13th in league scoring to Neely’s 59th.

1989…Rob Brown finished fifth in league scoring with 49-66-115 in 68 games for 1.69 PPG. He was the leading RW, but Joe Mullen (51-59-110, 1.39 PPG) and Kurri (44-58-110, 1.34 PPG) got the first and second team nods. No doubt Mullen and Kurri had much better careers, but that season Brown was on fire. It was Kurri’s first season without Gretzky, and I’m sure that swayed voters, plus they might have realized their error from the previous omission for Kurri.

1992… Mario Lemieux led the league in scoring with 44-87-131 in 64 games and a ridiculous 2.05 PPG. He was named second team All-star centre. The Penguins were loaded that season with Kevin Stevens (second in league scoring), Mullen, Larry Murphy, Mark Recchi, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Coffey and Ron Francis. They had seven future Hall of Famers. Unreal. I can see why Mark Messier won the Hart, which is deemed most valuable to your team, but I’d argue Lemieux was the better centre that season. Most valuable to team is different than most outstanding in my eyes. Not a big snub, since he still made second team. I more wanted to mention how ridiculously talented that 1992 Penguins team was. Gretzky and Lemieux were unreal players, the two best offensive players I’ve seen, but when they won Cups they had many elite teammates. I will always argue teams win Cups, not individuals, and that’s why I don’t put much stock in Cups when discussing Hall of Fame players.

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1993… No snub, but arguably the greatest goal-scoring top-three RW in one NHL season.
Teemu Selanne scored 76-56-132.
Alex Mogilny tallied 76-51-127.
Pavel Bure had 60-50-110.

Bure couldn’t crack either all-star squad because the first two guys each scored 76 goals. Amazing.

1994…Dave Andreychuk finished fourth in goals and ninth in points with 53-46-99, but didn’t make either team at LW. Brendan Shanahan was on the first team, and he had 52-50-102, so no issues, but Adam Graves made second team and he tallied 52-27-79. It was a breakout year for Graves, but Andreychuk still had more goals and 20 more points.

1997…Only time since 1979 that the six leading scorers comprised the first and second AS teams. I’d bet it might be only time in NHL history, since you need two LW, two C and two RW all in the top-six to make it happen. Paul Kariya (third in league scoring)-Lemieux (first)-Selanne (second) were first team and Leclair(fourth)-Gretzky (fifth)-Jagr (sixth) were second team.

2000… A rare season where the leading centres finished eighth, ninth and 10th in league scoring. Joe Sakic (28-53-81 in 60 GP), Mike Modano (38-43-81) and Steve Yzerman (35-44-79) were close in scoring, but Sakic was left off the teams despite having a 1.35 PPG. I guess the games played was a factor.

2001… Mario Lemieux made the second team despite only playing 43 games. He tallied an amazing 1.77 PPG though, scoring 35-41-76 in only 43 games. Jason Allison had his best NHL season scoring 36-59-95 and finishing fifth in league scoring, but Lemieux’s unreal 43 games pushed Allison to third in center voting.

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2002… Todd Bertuzzi had a legit snub. He finished third in scoring with 36-49-85 in 72 games and his 1.18 was best in the NHL of any player who played 25 games, but Bertuzzi didn’t make either team. Jarome Iginla, who led the league in scoring, was first team RW, while Bill Guerin was named to the second team. Guerin scored 41-25-66, but he was 13th among RWs in points. Him beating out Bertuzzi, Jagr, Glen Murray (also had 41 goals and more points) might be the most surprising winner I’ve seen since 1979.

2007…Not a snub per se, but Joe Thornton finished second in league scoring in 2007 with 22-92-114, but didn’t make either team. Sidney Crosby was first team as he led the league with 120 points and Vinny Lecavalier was the second team centre with his stellar 52 goals and 108-point season. Tough vote between Thornton and Lecavalier.

2009… Evgeni Malkin led the league in scoring and won the Hart and was first team centre. Crosby finished third in scoring with 103 points, but Pavel Datsyuk got the second team nod with his 97-point season and his Selke trophy. Around this time is when voters were allowed to look at more than just points with more information becoming public like goal share and other useful stats. Crosby didn’t get snubbed, I just wanted to include how more information was becoming available. Also, you have to go back to 1961 to find two teammates who were the first and second team all-stars at centre in the same season. Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard were the last teammates to get that nod.

2013…The Alex Ovechkin voting debacle. Ovechkin was the first team RW and second team LW. He’d been the first team LW from 2006-2010, so how so many mixed it up in 2013 was crazy. He had a great year, but many said the debacle cost Taylor Hall a LW AS team nod, and I don’t believe so. Hall was a LW, and Kunitz finished ahead of him. Had the voters properly placed Ovechkin on the LW on their ballots, he’d have been the first team LW and Kunitz likely the second based on fact Kunitz was the first team LW.

2018…Claude Giroux finished second in league scoring behind Connor McDavid, but Nathan MacKinnon got the second team C nod. Giroux had 34-68-102, while MacKinnon had 39-58-97. Not a snub, just another example of player finishing second in league scoring not making either AS team.

2019…Leon Draisaitl finished second in the league with 50 goals and fourth with 105 points. McDavid (116 points) was first team centre, while Crosby got the second team nod after his 35-65-100 point season. Crosby got the nod due to his 65GF% I’d guess, while Draisaitl was at 51%.

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2020…McDavid finished second in league scoring behind Draisaitl with 97 points. He had a 1.52 PPG. Nathan MacKinnon finished with 93 points and a 1.35 PPG. MacKinnon had a 60GF%, while McDavid had 51% and MacKinnon had a higher xGF%. That might have played a factor, but I sense the two teammates on first and second team C spot was also part of it.

2021… McDavid won the Hart, Ted Lindsay, Art Ross and was the first team centre after scoring 105 points in 56 games. He became only the second player in NHL history to win the Hart trophy unanimously, joining Wayne Gretzky who did it in 1982. McDavid was the obvious first line C choice.

Draisaitl finished second in the league with 84 points. He had a 62.5GF% (55-33). Auston Matthews got the second team nod at centre after scoring 41 goals and 66 points in 52 games. He also had 65GF% (54-29). Matthews’ goal-scoring prowess was quite impressive, and historically voters have leaned in favour of goals scorers a bit more when other stats are close. That makes sense to me, but considering Draisaitl didn’t get the nod in 2019 when he scored 50 goals, I do think having two teammates as the top-two centres is difficult for some people to get over.

Also Matthews was a Hart finalist. He was deserving of it, as I find it challenging to have two teammates up for that award since it is based on most valuable to the team. However, because a person is a Hart finalist, doesn’t mean they had a better individual season, just that they were considered more valuable to their team.

Ultimately, all-star selections don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. But I do wonder if Draisaitl and McDavid continue to finish first and second in league scoring in the coming years, if we see two teammates as first and second team C for the first time in over 50 years.

PARTING SHOT…

Jun 20, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Connor McDavid poses with the Art Ross and Ted Lindsay awards during the 2018 NHL Awards at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

— McDavid was deserving of the Hart and his unanimous selection. He had an incredible season and to join Gretzky as the only unanimous winners is a nice bonus. Others have come close.

2019: Nikita Kucherov had 96% of first place votes. 164 of 171.
2012: Evgeni Malkin received 96.6% of the votes. 144 of 149.
2008: Alex Ovechkin had 96.2% with 128 of the 133 votes.
1993: Mario Lemieux garnered 98% with 49 of the 50 votes. Pat Lafontaine got the other first place vote. He had 148 points in 84 games.
1992: Mark Messier received 97.1% with 67 of the 69 votes.
1985: Wanye Gretzky had 95.4% of the votes. He had 208 points. Dale Hawerchuk, Rod Langway and Brian Sutter each received a first place vote. Langway had won the Norris the previous two seasons, but he had 4-22-26 in 79 games, while Sutter had 74 points and was third on his own team. Crazy times as two voters clearly voted with their heart and not their head.
1984: Gretzky had 96.7% with 60 of 62 votes.
1982: Gretzky got 100% of the 63 votes.

Prior to Gretzky winning with 100% of the votes, the highest margin was Milt Schmidt’s 62.5% in 1951. He had 10 of the 16 first place votes. Buddy O’Connor in 1948 had 10 of 14 (71.4%).

When Gretzky won in 1980 and 1981 he won with 39% and 42%. He and Marcel Dionne were tied in points in 1980 and Mike Liut battled him in 1981. But when Gretzky won with 100% of the votes in 1982, that seemed to shift how voting went. We’ve seen many players win the Hart with 80% of the vote since 1982.

—McDavid is now the 19th player to win multiple Hart trophies. It was first awarded in 1924.

Gretzky leads with nine. Gordie Howe has six and Eddie Shore has four.
Bobby Clarke, Mario Lemieux, Howie Morenz, Bobby Orr and Alex Ovechkin have three.
Jean Believeau, Bill Cowley, Sidney Crosby, Phil Esposito, Dominik Hasek, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, Mark Messier, Stan Mikita and Nels Stewart have two.

McDavid is entering his prime and I believe he will join Shore, Howe and Gretzky as the only players to win four Hart trophies.

— He won his third Art Ross (first awarded in 1948) this past May and is only the ninth player with three Art Ross trophies as the league’s leading scorer. It will be a major challenge to catch Gretzky (10), but I think he has a great chance to finish second ahead of Howe and Lemieux (6), Esposito and Jaromir Jagr (5), Mikita (4) and Guy Lafleur and Bobby Hull (3).

— The Ted Lindsay award has only been around since 1971, and winning his third yesterday makes McDavid the seventh player with three.

Gretzky has five, Lemieux has four while Crosby, Jagr, Lafleur and Ovechkin each have three. McDavid has a great chance to have the most when his career is over.

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