Patrik Laine is an All-Star baby!
There may have been a handful of question marks that needed to be answered leading up to Tuesday’s naming of the four NHL All-Star teams, but there was zero doubt who was going to be called upon to represent the Jets in Los Angeles at the end of January.
What is in doubt however is whether or not Laine will be medically cleared to play in the showcase event as he continues to go through the NHL’s concussion protocalls after the hit he took this past weekend in Buffalo. All going well with the series of six tests that he will have to undertake one after another each day for six days in a row, he could be back and playing as early as next week. But he could also be sidelined for much, much longer and you best believe the Jets are not going to rush the young phenom back into any game action.
Keep in mind that if Laine can’t go, there is just a strong a chance the NHL will pick a player from a different team alltogether (Artemi Panarin anyone?) because while the NHL has taken care to pick at least one representitive from each of the 30 clubs, they won’t go out of their way to make sure each team is “physically” represented on the ice.
The NHL is strange, we know this.
That said if the NHL does want to replace a Jet with a Jet, here is who they (and you) have to chose from:
Key numbers: 6 goals, 14 points in 20 games played
This one is a bit of a dark horse pick which is fitting for the most criminally underrated of all Winnipeg Jets. Little missed pretty much the first half of the first half of the season with an injury suffered in game number one against Carolina, but its hard to argue that since his return it’s been obvious how much better he makes the Jets. When healthy and able to play a full season he’s a consistent 20 goal-a-season player and is perhaps the best faceoff man on the team this side of Mathieu Perreault.
Key numbers: 17 goals, 37 points in 40 games played
The obvious favorite if this was an actual race, 29 goals last season and well on his way to a 30 goal season this year. His omission of the initial list of all-stars raised more than a few eyebrows and got him featured on more than a handful of the inevitable “who was snubbed” lists that instantly follow selections like this. Still, there is doubt that Mark has truly arrived as a number one NHL center and his play has been overshadowed – understandably – by some red hot rookie scoring machine that he has been playing beside.
Key numbers: 14 goals, 37 points in 43 games played
If Laine’s play overshadowed Scheifele’s play, then it’s a wonder Nik Ehlers ever saw any proverbial sunlight as his numbers has been good as his fellow linemates and maybe more importantly his play has been as good if not at times better. No one is going to forget that the dynamic Dane went through a stretch of 15 games in late November to December where he couldn’t seem to buy a goal either running into goalies that would stop his prime scoring chances, or flat our hitting iron a number of times. When you factor in that dry spell – that no so coincidently happened during a very tough month for the Jets as a club – his 14 goals is a terrific number to be at midway through the season.
Key numbers: 12 goals, 33 points in 43 games played
Going with the team’s captain would certainly not be a bad choice at all as he’s quietly had a nice year on his way to yet another 25+ goal season which would be fourth since the team’s move to Winnipeg. He’s second on the team in power play points with 11 (you likely know who’s first even though his power play useage or lack thereof is always under question) and he leads all forwards in shots with 125.
Key numbers: 6 goals, 25 points in 43 games played. Also, 27:20 Avg TOI
The team’s incumbant all-star is a bit of a long shot to make it to this season’s showcase and we’re almost certain Big Buff would rather spend the weekend getting in some ice fishing back home in Minnesota, but don’t kid yourself, Buff has had an MVP-like season for the Jets and has been the team’s anchor on the blueline. His 27:20 average time on ice per game not only leads the jets, but leads the entire league. His 25 points is still good to be in a five way tie for 8th in league scoring for defensemen and is only one point off the pace of the pace of Shea Weber who also happens to be all-star himself.