The rosters for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game are set.
The final 12 players, three per division, selected through the 2023 NHL All-Star Fan Vote presented by Guaranteed Rate, were unveiled Thursday, completing each division’s 11-man roster.
There will be some serious star power at FLA LIVE Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on Feb. 4 (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS). The All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook will take place Feb. 3 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS).
Players like forward Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals, Metropolitan Division), forward David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins, Atlantic), center Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche, Central) and center Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers, Pacific) are set to face-off against each other in the 3-on-3 format.
But which division has the best roster and will win the whole thing? We asked four NHL.com writers to debate that very question:
Pete Jensen, director, senior fantasy editor:
The Atlantic Division has it all, led by the pedigree of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final in each of the past three seasons (two championships) with forward Nikita Kucherov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. And the crazy thing is Vasilevskiy may not even be the starter on his own team with how Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark has been nearly unbeatable this season. The Atlantic also has family ties (and a blend of scoring and physicality) with the Tkachuk brothers (forward Brady of the Ottawa Senators, forward Matthew from the host Florida Panthers). The Toronto Maple Leafs’ duo of center Auston Matthews and forward Mitchell Marner have played on separate lines at even strength for most of this season but have proven chemistry on the power play and from when they skated together last season, and Matthews won the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the NHL with 60 goals). And the icing on the cake is having two of the top five Hart Trophy candidates for most valuable player in Pastrnak and center Tage Thompson (Buffalo Sabres).
William Douglas, staff writer:
Pete’s right about the Atlantic’s pedigree, but I like the Central Division with its balance of up-and-coming stars and veterans. They’ve got exciting young firepower with forwards Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild), Jason Robertson (Dallas Stars) and Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes) to compliment forward Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) and defenseman Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets). The Central also has its share of Stanley Cup winners in the Avalanche’s MacKinnon, forward Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar, who last season won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Norris Trophy, voted as the NHL’s top defenseman. And the goaltending is hard to beat with Juuse Saros (Nashville Predators) and Connor Hellebuyck (Jets).
David Satriano, staff writer:
Pete and Bill both made good cases, but for me, it’s the Metropolitan. In the six seasons since the All-Star Game had a 3-on-3 format, the Metro has been crowned champion three times, including last season. I expect their run to continue in 2023. Led by two of the best players in NHL history in center Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Ovechkin, the Metro also boasts rising young stars in center Jack Hughes (New Jersey Devils) and forward Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina Hurricanes). There’s also a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman in Adam Fox and last season’s Vezina Trophy winner, voted as the League’s top goalie, in Igor Shesterkin, each from the New York Rangers. The tandem of Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin (New York Islanders) is better than any other division’s, and we know how important goaltending will be with all the expected scoring during the tournament.
Bill Price, Editor-in-Chief:
Imagine having the fourth pick in the draft and you get McDavid, center Leon Draisaitl and defenseman Erik Karlsson. That’s what this feels like. Quite honestly, if I had the first pick, it would have been my choice. We have all seen what McDavid and Draisaitl can do in a 5-on-5 game for the Edmonton Oilers; now imagine the two of them with all the open ice in the 3-on-3. Add in Karlsson, who is having a Norris Trophy-caliber season for the San Jose Sharks, and there might not be a better group of three in the entire All-Star Game. On top of that, you have an electric young player like center Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken), center Bo Horvat, who is having a career season for the Vancouver Canucks, and center Nazem Kadri (Calgary Flames). I would like to thank Pete, Bill and David for passing on the Pacific. It will be their loss.
It’s great to see Karlsson fully healthy and back in his elite form this season; he honestly deserves more MVP love for what he’s doing in the scope of his position historically. And speaking of defensemen, not having one on the roster is the one thing that could derail the Atlantic; the Central Division has three defensemen and the Metropolitan and Pacific have one each, which could make a big difference with so much back-and-forth action in the game. I think the best goalie tandems in the tournament are a tie between the Metropolitan and the Atlantic, but it is worth noting the Metro will have Fox playing big minutes in front of Shesterkin and Sorokin. But rest assured, look at the strong centers on the Atlantic roster: Matthews, the 6-foot-6 Thompson and two other high-scoring workhorses, Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) and Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens), could help dominate the possession battle.
Pete raises a good point about the paucity of defensemen on the Atlantic roster, which kind of bolsters my case for the Central. They have the best in the NHL now in Makar, who brings a deadly combination of speed and marksmanship. He and Seth Jones (Chicago Blackhawks) give the Central the best offensive and defensive blue line duo at the All-Star Game. And, with all due respect to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Jensen, I think the Central’s Saros-Hellebuyck goalie tandem merits top-two consideration.
Do McDavid, Draisaitl and Karlsson scare me? Absolutely, but what Bill P. failed to mention is who will be in goal for the Pacific: rookies Stuart Skinner (Oilers) and Logan Thompson (Vegas Golden Knights). True, each is having a good season, but there’s no comparing them to Shesterkin and Sorokin. As for the Atlantic, Matthews, Pastrnak and Thompson are three of the best goal-scorers in the League, but they can’t be on the ice at all times. And the Central? With a team that has Kaprizov, MacKinnon and Robertson, I see them playing too fancy and trying for highlight-reel goals and plays, for the fans, which could cost them. Bottom line, the Metropolitan has the most well-balanced roster, which also includes forwards Artemi Panarin (Rangers) and Johnny Gaudreau (Columbus Blue Jackets), and will once again be crowned champions.
I was waiting for someone to get around to the Pacific goaltending, and I’m glad David did. Yes, Thompson and Skinner are the two most unproven goalies in the All-Star Game, but that’s what I like about them. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, and they are not only going to savor every moment but do their best to prove they belong. But as long as they don’t get shelled, it won’t matter. The Pacific has serious firepower, and as Pete mentioned earlier, just one defenseman in Karlsson, who is as dynamic offensively as most of the forwards in the All-Star Game. And I know Pete was watching the All-Star Game last year (he was sitting next to me), so I’m surprised he brought up the “D” word, since there isn’t much defense being played in these games. This is all about who can score the most goals, and I’ll take McDavid and Draisaitl on my team any day. It will be fun.