The announcement of this year’s All Star team has left many Panthers fans shaking their heads, and rightfully so. Has the stigma of a Panthers’ uniform, despite their climb to the top of the standings, not worn off to the hockey world? Apparently it hasn’t.
Kris Versteeg has been a difference maker in South Florida, plain and simple. Playing alongside Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann on the top line, the winger has 39 points so far this season (17 goals and 22 assists). Though his assist on Marcel Goc‘s goal in Monday’s game against Vancouver snapped a four-game points drought, he’s been averaging close to a point per game. He’s also been a huge factor in the Panthers’ late game magic, netting four game-winners.
Looking at the roster, I think the selection of defenseman and goaltenders is as close to spot-on as possible (major ups to Soupy)! In my opinion, it’s a bit easier to stand out as a D-man or a goalie, because the difference between good and great is usually pretty significant. A top-notch forward is somewhat easier to come by, and the league isn’t exactly hurting for guys who can get the puck in the net.
All the same, there might be a few forwards that snuck their way in. If you’re looking strictly at points, Versteeg has more than 11 of the 24 selected, including the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Daniel Alfredsson and Jarome Iginla. I’m not saying those guys don’t deserve their spot on the roster, but the fact that Versteeg is putting up better numbers than a handful of “superstars” has to be recognized on some level.
This year, each of the 30 teams in the NHL have at least one representive. The Panthers haven’t had anyone selected to the All Star team since 2009 when former blue-liner Jay Bouwmeester was chosen. What’s more is that they haven’t had more than one in the same season in over a decade. We all know of the Panthers’ struggles in that decade, but that certainly doesn’t mean we haven’t had above-average, talented players come through the door in that span.
The voting process for the All Star game leaves a lot of question marks (coincidence that four of the starting six players are from the hosting Senators)? When it comes down to it, the fans get the final say. There is obviously some amount of bias to it, and from what I understand the players don’t take it as seriously as the fans do. Devils fans are up in arms that Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur weren’t named, and there is definitely some validity to that. Jets fans wonder why Evander Kane didn’t get noticed. Every team in the league has a couple of key players that could make a solid argument, so you’ve got to take the All Star Game for what it is.
What should be taken away from the whole ordeal is that selection should be based on performance. Especially in Versteeg’s case, he should’ve caught people’s eyes because of his on-ice production this year. That’s a bigger deal than the history of a name on the back of a jersey, let alone the logo on the front of it.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @gabbykiger, Frank Rekas @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht@joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Cameron Tahernia @Lord_Panther, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @peejlewiz and @AdamReid_. Also, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.