The festivities begin Jan. 26.
It is not easy to pick the NHL All-Star Game rosters. Not with every team required to be represented. Not with three-on-three the format and 11 players (three defensemen, six forwards two goalies) the criteria from which the league has to operate for each team. Then you factor in the tradeoffs — take a defenseman from this team and that means you have to take a forward from this team here — and it’s a no-win proposition for the league.
Thus, there will always be notable omissions.
Here are players we’ll miss seeing at the NHL All-Star Game festivities, which take place Jan. 26-28 in Tampa.
Kevin Allen: Jonathan Huberdeau (Panthers). Understand Aleksander Barkov has more broad appeal, but Huberdeau is leading the team in points (43) and has more goals than Barkov (16 to 14).
Jimmy Hascup: Dylan Larkin (Red Wings). He’s having the best season of his career, and he’d thrive in the three-on-three competition.
Mike Brehm: Patrice Bergeron (Bruins): He just had a four-goal game and is a two-way player who might be tempted to play a little defense in this format.
Allen: John Carlson (Capitals). Carlson is simply having a better season than Kris Letang, although Letang certainly will add more excitement to a three-on-three format.
Hascup: Sergei Bobrovsky (Blue Jackets). Among goalies who have played at least 17 games, Bobrovsky ranks ninth in save percentage (.922) while facing the fourth-most shots against.
Brehm: Sean Couturier (Flyers): Having an amazing season, but so is Claude Giroux, who’s going. The NHL had to leave one of them at home.
Allen: No change. The roster has exactly the same players I said I would choose if I picked the teams.
Hascup: Mark Scheifele (Jets)… if healthy. Scheifele had 38 points in 38 games before suffering an injury that will keep him out until sometime in February. He’s a young star casual fans should get to know.
Brehm: Vladimir Tarasenko (Blues): The speedster ranks fourth in the Central in scoring. But Brayden Schenn is tied with him in points and Tarasenko has gone previously. Makes sense to go with a new face.
Allen: Jonathan Marchessault (Golden Knights). Nothing wrong with James Neal’s selection, but it feels like Marchessault never receives his due for the quality of his game.
Hascup: Clayton Keller (Coyotes). Keller and Patrick Kane going toe-to-toe? Sign me up. Plus, Keller has been the best Coyotes player this season.
Brehm: William Karlsson (Golden Knights): His 22 goals are tied for first in the Pacific. His career best had been nine. That breakout should have been recognized.