Editorials

Picking our Pacific Division All-Star Teams

With the National Hockey League (and the entire sports world) on hiatus, people are coming up with tons of different ways to keep people involved in the sports world. One way that we are doing it here at Drive4Five is by surveying our staff on what their All-Star teams would look like by division. Last week, we did the Central Division All-Star teams. For this week’s All-Star Survey, we take a look at how everyone’s Pacific Division teams look like. Before getting into the teams, two rules were set in stone, one being that it had to be a full 12-6-2 roster, and the other being that each team in the division had to have at least one representative. So, here are everyone’s Pacific Division All-Star teams.

David:

Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Max Pacioretty – Anze Kopitar – Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault – Elias Pettersson – J.T. Miller
Matthew Tkachuk – Logan Couture – Johnny Gaudreau
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Mark Giordano
Quinn Hughes – Brent Burns
Drew Doughty – Shea Theodore
John Gibson
Marc-Andre Fleury

“The Pacific Division team was the most difficult to pick. After McDavid and Draisaitl, there are a lot of mid-tier stars that made these decisions challenging. Up front, Bo Horvat, Reilly Smith, Elias Lindholm, Taylor Hall, Clayton Keller, Brock Boeser, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Phil Kessel, and Sean Monahan all deserve recognition. On the backend, Erik Karlsson deserves a spot, but I wanted to go with a more defensive defenseman after already using a spot on Brent Burns. In net, the choices were easier, but Darcy Kuemper nearly stole a spot. All in all, the Pacific Division has much more evenly distributed talent across each roster.”

Matt:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Stone
Pacioretty – Kopitar – Tyler Toffolli
Miller – Pettersson – Smith
Tkachuk – Elias Lindholm – Jakob Silfverberg
Hughes – Ekman-Larsson
Theodore – Burns
Giordano – Chris Tanev
Antti Raanta
Jacob Markstrom

“At forward in the Pacific Division, my honorable mention is Nick Schmaltz of the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes center has enjoyed a nice breakout year in the desert, with 11 goals and 45 points so far this season, not to mention Schmaltz is only 25 years old. He was on pace to tie his career-high in assists and points. While his goal-scoring touch may be lacking to an extent this year, he still has enjoyed a very good 2019-20 season, and he is one of the key reasons why Arizona is beginning to emerge as a good, young team that is on the rise. They will be a playoff contender for years to come, and Schmaltz is a good piece to have in their core. On defense, my honorable mention is Nate Schmidt from the Vegas Golden Knights. I wanted to put either him or Shea Theodore on my list for left-handed defense, but Theodore was the superior player. Not trying to dismiss Schmidt’s season though, for he has contributed to the Knights’ success once again. He has seven goals and 31 points this season, and he has a +/- rating of 11, good for sixth on the team. As a result, Schmidt has been a solid help on defense that can contribute on either side of the ice, and still deserve some credit for Vegas turning it around after a rather shaky start to their season. In goal, my honorable mention for the Pacific Division is Mikko Koskinen of the Edmonton Oilers. He returned to the NHL this season after an eight-year absence, and he had an impressive return last season, but the flaws were not all his fault with the Oilers not having a great season. Since the Oilers hired Dave Tippett, things have gotten better. The Oilers have a better structure, and Koskinen has been a benefactor of the change. He has an 18-13-3 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.75 goals-against average. He and Mike Smith have mostly split the net so far this season, and that has led to the development of a quality one-two punch in goal on most nights. As a result, Edmonton’s goaltending has been an underrated piece to their success so far, and Tippett’s structure has helped Koskinen get better and enjoy a very underrated season.”

Will:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Hall
Stone – Couture – Gaudreau
Tomas Hertl – Sean Monahan – Phil Kessel
Pettersson – Karlsson – Marchessault
Fowler – Ekman-Larsson
Lindholm – Giordano
Doughty – Theodore
Fleury
Gibson

“Brock Boeser, the 2018 Calder Trophy runner-up was on pace for his third straight 20-goal season when the season was paused. Next to Elias Pettersson, the Canucks have a dual-threat when it comes to putting the puck in the back of the net. Boeser is a goal scorer like Mat Barzal is a playmaker. He’s one of the snipers of the future in the NHL, but he needs to stay healthy in order to get there. After down seasons in his last year in Montreal and first in Vegas, Max Pacioretty is back to his 60-point self we saw so much of in the mid-2010s. Part of his issue was staying healthy and he was able to do so this year, playing in all 71 games for Vegas. If he continues to stay healthy, Pacioretty should put together a few more good seasons for the Golden Knights. In his first full season, Quinn Hughes has put up 50 points from the blue line. His offensive abilities make him a dual-threat and he is a fantastic skater. Once his defensive abilities improve, he will become the new top defenseman in Vancouver. Finally, when healthy, Antti Raanta has shown the ability to take over games and get his team wins. He did it with the Rangers and has done it in his two healthy seasons in Arizona. If the Coyotes make the playoffs in the near future, Raanta will be a huge reason why.”

Shawn:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Stone
Brock Boeser – Petterson – Tkachuk
Rickard Rakell – Nick Schmaltz – Miller
Meier – Kopitar – Conor Garland
Theodore – Hughes
Burns – Ekman-Larson
Tyler Myers – Giordano
Gibson
Darcy Kuemper

“In terms of star power, the Pacific Division is quite lacking. That made it so much more difficult to create the team and the following honorable mentions. Clayton Keller gets an honorable mention as he has been a key offensive contributor on an Arizona Coyotes team that can’t seem to get over the hump since his rookie season. He is also decent defensively and fits well into Arizona’s system. Another forward that deserves an honorable mention is Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks due to his offensive production. While his game isn’t as complete as Keller’s, he is one of the only sources of consistent offense on a disappointing San Jose team. On the defensive end, I selected Drew Doughty as an honorable mention. Despite him falling out somewhat, he still is a far above average defenseman who has to lead a defense made up of many AHL-caliber players. In the net, Jakob Markstrom is one of my honorable mentions as he has proved himself as an excellent starter this year. Robin Lehner should also be considered, as he has had another solid season, mainly playing behind a subpar Chicago defense prior to his trade to Vegas.”

Scott:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Nugent-Hopkins
Marchessault – Kopitar – Stone
Horvat – Pettersson – Miller
Tkachuk – Couture – Reilly Smith
Ekman-Larsson – Giordano
Hughes – Burns
Karlsson – Theodore
Gibson
Markstrom

“I said last week that they were getting tougher to build each week, and the Pacific Division was definitely the hardest. The first line has the top three forwards on the Edmonton Oilers, including the best player in hockey. The second line includes a pair of Golden Knights in Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone, alongside Anze Kopitar. The third line includes three dominant forwards from the team in the Pacific Northwest. The fourth line includes Matthew Tkachuk, Logan Couture, and Reilly Smith. Other forwards in consideration were Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Brock Boeser, Tyler Toffoli Taylor Hall, Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Phil Kessel, Conor Garland, Jakob Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, Tomas Hertl, and Timo Meier. The defense was no question. It includes some of the top offensive defensemen in the league including Quinn Hughes, who is top-two in the Calder Trophy race with Cale Makar. The honorable mentions on defense include Nate Schmidt, Oskar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, TJ Brodie, Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev, Alex Goligoski, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Drew Doughty. For goaltending, I chose John Gibson and Jacob Markstrom, while there were a few other goalies in consideration. Also in consideration were Marc-Andre Fleury, Darcy Kuemper, and David Rittich.”

Aidan:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Stone
Tkachuk – Pettersson – Miller
Hall – Karlsson – Hertl
Gaudreau – Kopitar – Meier
Karlsson – Theodore
Chychrun – Hughes
Burns – Giordano
Gibson
Kuemper

“Out of the four NHL Divisions, the Pacific Division presented arguably the least deep player pool; however, the lack of depth in the division posed an exciting challenge in picking the All-Pacific Division team. My first forward line is composed of the three best players in the division, and it is a line that should receive the most ice time among the forward lines. Whereas the first line should dominate offensively, my second and third forward lines, highlighted by Pettersson, a superstar in the making, exhibit essential two-way prowess. The lack of depth in the division stood out on the right wing, as aside from Stone, there were no clear-cut options on the right side. It was difficult to leave off Conor Garland, a promising two-way forward, but Miller, Hertl, and Meier have all been very solid players for several years, whereas Garland is in only his second season. My defensive unit features a top pairing of a current superstar, Theodore, and a veteran defenseman, Karlsson. Chychrun, Hughes, and Giordano all offered enough two-way potential to make the team with ease; thus, I had one spot remaining for Burns, Cam Fowler, and Hampus Lindholm. Although both Fowler and Lindholm outproduced Burns in recent years, Burns has proven his capabilities as an elite offensive defenseman, thus rendering him an elite option on the power play. In my opinion, Gibson is arguably the best goalie in the NHL, which is why he was a logical choice to be my team’s starting goaltender. Both Kuemper and Jacob Markstrom were intriguing options to back-up Gibson, but I ultimately selected Kuemper because he ranks second in Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx), despite playing in half as many games as the leader, Connor Hellebuyck, per Evolving Hockey. Although this division may not be as deep as others, its elite top line and goaltending tandem pose as an intriguing threat to other teams.” All stats are from Evolving Hockey

Ben:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Stone
Miller – Pettersson – Smith
Pacioretty – Nugent-Hopkins – Elias Lindholm
Gaudreau – Kopitar – Meier
Ekman-Larsson – Theodore
Fowler – Hughes
Giordano – Burns
Kuemper
Fleury

“When it comes to the Pacific Division, left-wing serves as the deepest pool of players. My honorable mention on the left side is Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames. Similarly, at center, Anze Kopitar served as both my Kings pick as well as my last choice. My honorable mention at center is Logan Couture, and Kopitar got the nod since we are considering Kopitar’s defensive abilities. On the right side, Rickard Rakell would normally get the nod over Meier, but he’s been having a down year. The Golden Knights defensemen are very underrated, especially Nate Schmidt. The Knights struggled while Schmidt was suspended for the first part of last season, and is often overlooked. Drew Doughty has dropped off this year after signing a long term deal with Los Angeles. Despite his big minutes, he’s not the Norris candidate he once was. In goal, Jacob Markstrom has played great in Vancouver, but I picked Fleury over him just because of the volume of work that Fleury has. He’s always among the league leaders in wins.”

Kush:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Stone
Tkachuk – Pettersson – Tyler Toffoli
Taylor Hall – Kopitar – Miller
Gaudreau – William Karlsson – Meier
Karlsson – Theodore
Giordano – Hughes
Jakob Chychrun – Cam Fowler
Kuemper
Markstrom

“The Pacific division is loaded with young superstars that will take over the game. The first line was very clear as both Draisaitl and McDavid were the top offensive players in the 2019-2020 season, and Stone is the best two-way player in the division, who will help a lot defensively. One interesting addition was Tyler Toffoli, where he has been incredible this year, as his expected goals above replacement is 2 standard deviations higher than average and his Corsi for per 60 is 2.5 standard deviations higher than average. This powerful offense will contribute to the offensively-minded second line, especially with his linemates Elias Pettersson and Matthew Tkachuk. As far as defense, there were four locks in Karlsson, Theodore, Hughes, and Giordano, but when looking at Chychrun’s and Fowler’s advanced statistics, they were definitely eye-catching. Although coming off a rough 2018-2019 season, Cam Fowler clearly stepped up an was above replacement in goals for, expected goals for, Corsi for, expected goals against, and Corsi against. Especially since I needed a Duck, he was clearly the best option. For goaltending, Darcy Kuemper was an obvious choice as the starter as he has had an impeccable year, and the other choice was much more difficult between Gibson and Markstrom. I do believe that Gibson has been much better in the past few years, but we can not undermine the year that Markstrom was having. Markstrom had 3.77 goals saved above expected, meanwhile Gibson had -9.92 goals saved above expected, which proves to be a huge difference. Some honorable mentions include John Gibson, Conor Garland, Brett Burns, and Max Pacioretty. Overall, my Pacific Division team is composed of offensive or two-way superstars that have excelled statistically in 2020, and have shown success in previous years as well.” All stats are from Evolving Hockey

Alex:

Draisaitl – McDavid – Nugent-Hopkins
Miller – Pettersson – Tkachuk
Pacioretty – Karlsson – Stone
Gaudreau – Kopitar – Lindholm
Hughes – Burns
Theodore – Karlsson
Fowler – Klefbom
Kuemper
Fleury

“For my honorable mention at forward, I decided on Arizona Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz. Schmaltz has had a great year with the Arizona Coyotes as they push for the playoffs. In recent years injuries have derailed his seasons, but this year he has had a relatively healthy, productive season. On defense, I have Drew Doughty. While the Los Angeles Kings have had a lackluster year Doughty is still performing at a great rate despite his age slowly going up. While he was not producing like he was in his Norris Trophy years, I feel it is still fair to at least mention him. In goal, my honorable mention is Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom has helped the Canucks push for a potential spot despite his injuries, and the Canucks were right in the mix when the season was put on pause.”

Thank you to all of our writers for participating in this week’s Pacific Division All-Star article! Check back next week for a new Friday Feature!

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