The addition of 3-on-3 play to the NHL All-Star Game may have been overshadowed a bit last season, but it’s implementation has given the once-thought joke of a weekend a fresh coat of paint. Though the games still mean nothing outside of a fun few days of watching your favorite NHL stars attempt to skate with hangovers, the 3-on-3 overtime novelty worked like a charm last season.
And thankfully, the NHL brought it back this year! The rules, of course, had to change to fit the new player regulations. The final rosters still have to reflect at least one player from each NHL team, but each division will only have 11 players: six forwards, three defenseman, and two goaltenders. The NHL announced the final cuts at noon on Tuesday, and unfortunately some favorites were left off thanks to the new rules.
Even still, the current roster has some real intriguing names. Add that in with the energetic 3-on-3 environment and you have the potential for some real fun lines that you could only dream about on your favorite NHL team. We won’t find out what the lines will be until we get closer to the event on Jan. 29, but let’s have some fun fantasizing about the ones we really want to see.
Auston Matthews, Vincent Trocheck, Erik Karlsson
With Matthews’ playmaking ability, Trocheck’s nose for the net, and Karlsson’s offensive prowess from the blue line, this line has the potential to wreak some havoc with all the open ice. A pair of young kids backed by the terrifying presence of veteran Karlsson is quite a sight.
Auston Matthews and anyone
Matthews will likely be a big star during All-Star Weekend. Let the Atlantic Division share in the glory of what Matthews brings on the ice.
Nikita Kucherov, Brad Marchand, Victor Hedman
A double Tampa Bay sandwich with a 35-point producer from Boston. Marchand is on pace for his best career season while Kucherov is on his way to another 60-plus point year. Hedman is no slouch either, as the NHL’s second-highest scoring defenseman this season at 37 points. An offensive match made in heaven.
Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds
The rivalry line. Crosby brings the overall talent, Ovechkin the pure sniper, and Simmonds the net-front presence spark. No defense needed here.
Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, John Tavares
Uh ... the Metro’s remaining forwards aren’t bad either. Both Hall and Tavares lead their respective teams in points, and Malkin is only one point shy of Crosby as the Penguins’ best point producer this season. RIP to any team that plays the Metropolitan Division. The poor goaltenders that’ll have to contend with these offensive juggernauts.
Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Seth Jones
The “Traded [or soon to be] Out of A Bad Situation” club. Sorry Islanders fans.
Patrik Laine, Nathan MacKinnon, Vladimir Tarasenko
With Laine out indefinitely with a concussion, his inclusion in the final All-Star rosters is in jeopardy. It’s a shame, because we know what all three players can do individually. Laine’s already a rock star, MacKinnon’s overtime moves in the World Cup of Hockey will be remembered for years to come, and Tarasenko is a goal-scoring machine.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, P.K. Subban
Subban is another player up in the air because of injuries. There’s a chance he’ll be ready for the game, however, and that’s good news for all of us because Subban makes the All-Star weekend a better experience just by his mere presence. Put him on the ice between two Central Division rivals in Tarasenko and Tyler Seguin and you have yourself one dynamic, do-it-all line.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith
It’ll be like watching a regular season Blackhawks game, or any NHL outdoor game from the last five years.
Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Brent Burns
It’s OK to feel hot and bothered by this line. McDavid and Gaudreau, two of the NHL’s best pure scorers, on the same line is one thing. Add Burns, who’s the league’s leading defenseman with 39 points in 40 games, to the mix and you have that much more firepower on an already smoking line.
Connor McDavid and anyone
See Auston Matthews above.
Jeff Carter, Joe Pavelski, Cam Fowler
A Battle of California line. Pavelski and Fowler could just feed Carter pucks from anywhere on the ice and the Kings forward would likely score on nine out of 10 with the way he’s playing. Also, another fine rivalry line.