The NHL is completely revamping its All-Star Game, switching to a 3-on-3 mini-game format. The idea is that each division will get a team of six forwards, three defencemen, and two goalies. The teams from the same conference will face each other, with the winners moving on to play in the final.
As part of the format, fans will get to vote in the captain for each division. In other words, the player who gets the most votes from each division will be the team's captain. The other 40 spots will be filled with players chosen by the NHL. Fan voting has opened, so make sure to vote early and often here.
Naturally, Erik Karlsson will be an all-star. If he isn't selected to be captain of the team, the NHL will for sure pick him to the team. It would be great to see a Senators player as team captain, but I ask you, is that really the best use of the fan vote? I'd like to see two Sens players make it, and the only way that happens is if we all put out voting skills to use to send someone else to the All-Star Game. As of this writing, Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, and Mark Stone are all tied for second on the team with 21 points. But Ryan and Hoffman both made it last year, and I think Stone will have lots of future to make it. No, I'm putting my vote behind Kyle Turris, he of 11 goals in 23 games, to be the divisional captain. It's easily the best start of his career, and I'd like to see it turn into what will likely be the only all-star nod of his life. After being derided for a long time, he's finally getting credit as a bona fide first-line centre. #TurrisASG - make it happen.
That being said, here are my actual predictions for who is made captain for each team.
Atlantic Division: P.K. Subban
The Canadiens have a huge fan-base, and though Max Pacioretty could also win, I think Subban's appeal plus the number of votes he'll get from other markets gets him the vote. I could see Karlsson also getting outside support, but if the city of Montreal gets behind their d-man, he'll make it for sure. It helps that the Maple Leafs are in disarray, the Bruins have no obvious choice, the Red Wings have scored by committee, the Lightning have underperformed, and the Panthers don't have enough fans (though I'd love to see a grassroots Jagr-for-ASG campaign). Wait, I'm forgetting a team... Oh yeah, never mind. Zemgus Girgensons will be your Atlantic Division captain.
Metropolitan Division: Alex Ovechkin
I think Ovi takes this in a walk, with the other likely challenger in Sidney Crosby off to the worst start of his career. Nobody has the combination of skill and charisma needed for an All-Star Game like Ovechkin. The only other player who could possibly take this is Henrik Lundqvist.
Central Division: Vladimir Tarasenko
Now I know, this is a little unexpected, but hear me out. The Blackhawks have Patrick Kane off to a torrid start, but as a Hawks fan, do you really vote him over Jonathan Toews? Plus there's Duncan Keith and upstart Artemi Panarin. (And if you're Dave Poulin, Brent Seabrook.) A similar story for the Stars, where Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and John Klingberg all deserve noms. I think the vote-splitting allows the Blues' unquestionable all-star, Tarasenko, to be named divisional captain.
Pacific Division: Daniel Sedin
I found this the hardest division to predict. Any idea who the current point-leader is in the division? It's Daniel. I think Vancouver will get behind him, and he'll have enough star power to get votes from across the continent. After all, who else would you vote for? Taylor Hall? Jeff Carter? Tyler Toffoli? Martin Jones? I could see the Toronto vote getting behind Max Domi, the problem being that the Arizona vote is non-existent. Regardless, as a Sens fan, I'm alternating between Mikkel Boedker and Anders Lindback for this division anyway.
So there you have it, my predictions for the divisional captains. Let me know who you have in the comments! Oh, and don't forget: #TurrisASG