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2016 NHL All-Star Game Predictions

With the 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend coming up, this year’s festivities look to be a very interesting event, as there’s not only a cash prize of $1 million at stake for the winning team, but the NHL taking is advantage of their exciting 3-on-3 overtime format and using it for the entire competition. At least one player will represent every NHL team in a tournament-style series of games, rather than just one contest. The teams are as follows:

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning; Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers

Defensemen

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers; Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators; P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadians

Forwards

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; (Captain) Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers; Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs; Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings; Ryan O’Reilly Buffalo Sabres; Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

What is there not to like about this team? I think the NHL really got it right when they put this group together. This team is stacked from the front of the ice to the back and with Alex Ovechkin out of the game for the Metropolitan Division, I think the Atlantic will roll into the finals of this tournament.

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals; Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

Defensemen

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes; Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins; Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers

Forwards

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals; Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers; Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals; Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets; (Captain) John Tavares, New York Islanders

*ROSTER CHANGES* Due to injury, captain Alex Ovechkin has chosen not to participate in the game and has been replaced by teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov. John Tavares will now be the team’s captain.

Losing Ovechkin will surely hurt this team’s odds of winning. Overall, I think the Metropolitan’s goaltending and defense are slightly worse than what the Atlantic is bringing to the table. I feel the forwards are equal in this match-up but I expect the defense to be this team’s Achilles heel.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Goaltenders

Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild; Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Defensemen

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets; Roman Josi, Nashville Predators; Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Forwards

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars; Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche; (Captain) Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks; Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars; Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues; James Neal, Nashville Predators

*ROSTER CHANGES* Due to illnes, Jonathan Toews has chosen not to participate and has been replaced by James Neal.

I really liked the Central’s odds of winning before Toews dropped out. I understand replacing him with a player from the All-Star Weekend’s host city, but its hard to look at James Neal as an All-Star since he left Pittsburgh. Zach Parise, Andrew Ladd, or Gabriel Landeskog would have been better replacements, in my opinion. Solid goaltending and shut down defense can lead this team to victory, as well as having the scoring ability of Kane, while the chemistry between Benn and Seguin is second to none in the NHL. For these reasons I feel the Central will easily beat the Pacific.

PACIFIC DIVISION

Goaltenders

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks; Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Defensemen

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames; Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers; Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks; Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks; (Captain) John Scott, Montreal Canadians; Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

It’s hard to bet against Jonathan Quick, he is a human highlight reel in net. What hurts this team is John Gibson, even though I feel he will eventually be Quick’s replacement in Olympic tournaments…..eventually. The problem is the only other options in goal for the Pacific would be Ryan Miller or Mike Smith. Miller is not having a great season in Vancouver and Smith is injured. The defense looks great, but the forwards are lackluster (I’m looking at you, John Scott). For the Pacific to win, it will require superhuman feats from Quick.

Looking at these four teams, it is hard to determine who will win their games. These teams are literally stacked with superstars from top to bottom. I have always enjoyed watching the Super Skills Competition, but the All-Star Game itself has always been lackluster. I believe using the 3-on-3 format will make for an exciting tournament. My final picks for are the Atlantic Division beating the Metropolitan Division and the Central Division taking down the Pacific Division. I expect a close game in the finals of this tournament, but its hard not to go with the Central Division. Follow Stephen on Twitter

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