Article written by Jonathan Camponovo

Political science Ticinese student living in the german part of Switzerland. He’s a passionate of Swiss and NA ice hockey since childhood.


Welcome to this episode of NHL Corner, the column dedicated to the most prestigious league of the world!

At the end of each NHL season, there are several prizes that are awarded to the best players chosen by experts and former hockey players. There is the Vezina Trophy (best goalie), the Norris Trophy (best defenseman), the Calder Trophy (best rookie), the Masterton Trophy (sportmanship and dedication to ice hockey), and many more.

Moreover, two “All Star teams” are chosen.

Let’s have a look at the first “All Star Team” and let’s analyze the players also in view of the 2019-20 season!

Goalie

Andrei Vasilevsky

The 25 years old Russian goalie is one of the reasons why the Tampa Bay Lightning broke several records during the last Regular Season. Including an impressive number of wins (62 in 82 games), only Detroit were able to win so many games back during the 1995-96 season.

To sum up Andrei’s latest performances, suffice it to say that he made it to the All Star Team, he took part in the All Star Game and he won the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie of the season. He helped the team to win 39 games and was the goalie with the highest number of wins of the season. He finished the Regular Season with a remarkable 92.5% SVS.

Moreover, he did even better at the last Wolrds in Bratislava and Kosice, as he recorded a 94.6% SVS and was named the best goalie of the tournament.

He’s a real wall in front of the net. Unfortunately though, Tampa Bay’s defense wasn’t able to support him properly at the quarterfinal stages against Columbus.

And so the Lighting, who did great during the Regular Season, collapsed during the post season: the Florida’s based team in fact, was the first one ever who won the President Trophy (awarded to the team with most points at the end of the Regular Season) but then lost 4-0 at the quarterfinals stage.

When you have a goalie like Andrei Vasilevsky it’s likely that you make it to the playoffs. It looks like, however, that Tampa Bay still need to take a step forward in order to be successful during the post season. In this regard the stars like Kucherov, Stamkos and Vasilevsky (84% SVS during the last playoffs) need to carry the team.

Defensemen

Brent Burns

The San José Sharks’ big man is the first defenseman named in the All Star Team.

The 34 years old (195cm/104kg), inspite of appearances, is among the most lethal players of the NHL. During the 2018-19 Regular Season he tallied 83 (yep, 83!!) points in 82 games. Moreover, he even helped his team to make it to the Conference final thanks to 16 points in 20 post-season’s games.

In fact, he was the best offensive defenseman of the league. His defensive performances weren’t flawless, but solid defensemen like Vlasic or Braun helped him and Brent Burns finished the season with a +13.

Startig from next October, he’s gonna be again among San José’s pillars. It’s likely that his numbers will be different next season considering also his age, but the Californian based team can also count on young guns like Lebanc, Hertl and our Timo Meier in order to try and win the first Stanley Cup of their history. If the goalies are at the top of the game during next season playoffs, San José might be considered among one of the favourites for next season.

Mark Giordano

Mark Giordano’s history is fantastic and it’s one of those that make ice hockey a magic sport. The Calgary Flames’ defenseman is undrafted and made it to the NHL thanks to his amazing commitment. At the age of 35, moreover, he was awarded the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman of the league and made it to the All Star Team!

Giordano is only the 4th defenseman in history who won the Norris Trophy at his age (35 or more). In fact, he tallied 74 points in 78 games and had the best season of his career. He finished the season with a “+39” and his performances were top notch consistently.

In view of next season, Giordano will play his 7th season as the Flames’ captain. It’s gonna be difficult to repeat this years’ performances though, both for him and for the club. That’s because in Calgary goalies are a problem. The newcomer Cam Talbot doesn’t look like a goalie able to make the difference at the key moments of the season.

Forwards

Alexander Ovechkin

The name alone tells you everything already…

Alexander Ovechkin made it to the All Star Team for the 8th time. In fact, the 34 years old Russian never ceases to amaze. The 2018-19 season meant for him to go down in history. In fact, he’s the only player ever who scored at least 50 goals in eight different seasons!

Moreover, this year he even broke Bobby Hull’s record and became the only player who finished the Regular Season as the leading scorer (goals scored). No one ever did better.

This last season he put 51 pucks in the net and that’s impressive. “The Great 8”, keeps on showing why he’s considered to be one of the best sniper of this sport’s history.

During the 2019-20 season he will be the Washington Capitals’ captain for the 11th time, and the team will try to make it all the way and win the Stanley Cup final. It’s not gonna be easy though, as the competition is extremely high. Suffice it to say that the Capitals (won won the Stanley Cup in 2018), lost at the quarterfinal stages this last season against the Carolina Hurricanes of Nino Niderreiter. There is hope to get back to the top of the world, anyway. The Washington Capitals are a very competitive side who can also play a strong physical game (at times even too much physical). Moreover, they’re rejuvenating their defense. In this regard, we wish all the best to our Jonas Siegenthaler, who is making his name in this club.

Connor McDavid

The 22 years old Canadians is currently considered by all experts to be the best player of the league. After 4 NHL seasons, the number 1 pick at the 2015 draft, he already tallied 372 points in 287 games.

Also the legend Wayne Gretzky said words of praise for the Edmondon Oilers’ forward. In fact, he said that he was the best player of the last 30 years, surely at the level of Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby.

Connor McDavid’s strengths are… well, everything!

He’s fast, he can skate well, his shot is impressive, he’s got outstanding stickhandling skills, his hockey sense is way above average… and so on.

Connor McDavid already broke many records as a rookie. We want, however, to highlight one record he broke lately. On October 15th, 2018, he was the first player in NHL history to score or to have an assist in the first 8 goals of the team!

This stat gives you the idea on how impressive McDavid really is. At the same time, however, this stat suggests also that the Edmonton Oilers are too dependent on him.

The Edmonton Oilers can count on the best player of the league and yet missed the playoffs 3 times in the last 4 seasons. That’s because this team lacks of depth in its roster. In this regard, and in view of next season, Ken Holland (Edmonton’s GM), is trying to reinforce the bottom six. Gaëtan Haas’ transfer goes in this direction.

Nikita Kucherov

The 26 years old Russian of the Tampa Bay Lighning made it to the All Star Team and also won the “Art Trophy”… in othe words, he was the MVP of the 2018-19 season! Before Nikita Kucherov, only Martin St. Louis won this trophy while playing for the Florida’s based side.

Kucherov’s season was impressive. He tallied 128 points in 82 games and this meant that he’s the Russian with the most points in a season ever. Moreover, it’s been since 1996 that a player didn’t score so many points during a season (back then, it was Mario Lemieux).

He scored at least a point in 62 games and he scored at least two points in 38 games. When he made it into the scoresheet, Tampa Bay won 55 games out of 62.

At the last Worlds in Slovakia, moreover, he was named the best player of the tournament.

When it comes to Kucherov, we can say the same thing we said before about Vasilevsky. If Tampa Bay wants to have a successful season, their top players must be at the top of their game during the post-season. During the last playoffs, the Russian star tallied only 2 assists in 3 games… that’s not enough. Moreover, he even missed a game because of a nasty foul. We mean, we couldn’t see the fantastic player we could all admire during the Regular Season, and in this regard the Lightning must step up when it comes to prepare his stars at best for the playoffs.

Well, what can we say? There are countless players in the NHL who are top notch. The six we talked about are the most dangerous ones, but the list can be very long.

To finish, we’d like to stress that the only one out of the six players who made it to the All Star Team, also had a good season with his club. We’re talking about Brent Burns, who made it to the Conference final with his San José. All the other players, either missed the post-season or lost at the quarterfinal stages. This means that the NHL level is very high and the competition is impressive. We mean, it’s not enough when you can count on stars… you also need a good depth in your roster if you want to have success.

Advertisement