The final 12 players were added Jan. 19 through the 2023 NHL All-Star Fan Vote presented by Guaranteed Rate, with three from each division joining the players who were selected by the NHL hockey operations department Jan. 5.
But which players should be on the same line in the 3-on-3 tournament at FLA LIVE Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on Feb. 4 (3 pm ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS)?
Each roster features nine skaters and two goalies. The winners of each semifinal game play for a $1 million prize going to the championship team. It will follow the All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook on Feb. 3 (7 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS).
[RELATED: 2023 NHL All-Star Game coverage]
To further the debate, NHL.com enlisted a writer to play the part of each division coach: Rod Brind’Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes (Metropolitan), Jim Montgomery of the Boston Bruins (Atlantic), Peter DeBoer of the Dallas Stars (Central ) and Bruce Cassidy of the Vegas Golden Knights (Pacific).
The line combinations likely won’t be finalized until close to game time, but we couldn’t wait that long, so we asked four staff writers to put on their coaching hat to reveal how they would deploy the personnel for each division.
Alex Ovechkin (WSH) — Sidney Crosby (PIT) — Johnny Gaudreau (CBJ)
Artemi Panarin (NYR) — Jack Hughes (NJD) — Adam Fox (NYR)
Kevin Hayes (PHI) — Brock Nelson (NYI) – Andrei Svechnikov (CAR)
Igor Shesterkin (NYR)
Ilya Sorokin (NYI)
Somewhere deep inside, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have always wondered what kind of numbers they could put up if they played together instead of being rivals with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively, since they each made the NHL debut in 2005-06.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Ovechkin and Crosby have developed a respectful, friendlier relationship in recent seasons, and they played together at the 2017 and 2018 All-Star Games, so it’s a no-brainer to me put them on the same line again for the Metropolitan Division. Anyone would fit well with those two, but I’m picking swift, playmaking wing Johnny Gaudreau of the Columbus Blue Jackets to complete the talented top line.
Any preexisting chemistry can help in a short tournament like this, so I’m pairing Adam Fox, the lone defenseman on the roster, with his New York Rangers teammate Artemi Panarin on the second line. Hopefully, they can bring the same magic they showed when Panarin set up Fox for an overtime winner against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 12. Teaming New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes with Panarin and Fox will give the line some Hudson River Rivalry spice.
That leaves Kevin Hayes of the Philadelphia Flyers to play with Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders and Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes on what should be a balanced third line. Maybe Svechnikov will try to score a lacrosse-style goal to add to the fun.
As the reigning winner of the Vezina Trophy voted as the top goalie in the NHL, Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers gets the start, but this team will lose nothing in the net when Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders takes over. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Tage Thompson (BUF) — Austin Matthews (TOR) — David Pastrnak (bos)
Matthew Tkachuk (FLA) — Dylan Larkin (DET) — Brady Tkachuk (OCT)
Nikita Kucherov (TBL) — Nick Suzuki (MTL) — Mitchell Marner (TOR)
Linus Ullmark (bos)
Andrei Vasilevsky (TBL)
With no pesky defensemen to get in the way, there is a wealth of scoring talent on the Atlantic roster. But how to put it together?
I’m obviously going to start by putting together the Tkachuks. It’s a no-brainer to put Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk on one wing with Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk on the other, all sandwiched around fellow United States-born center Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a line with a lot of snarl and plenty of power.
I considered having Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner line up next to each other, something not foreign to the two Toronto Maple Leafs. But why go for the familiar when you can go for the exotic? The line that I think I — and everyone else — wants to see has Matthews between all-world Boston Bruins wing David Pastrnak, and the player no one can stop talking about this season, Buffalo Sabers forward Tage Thompson. Now that’s a line that can put a few pucks past a goalie — even an All-Star goalie.
That leaves the cerebral Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki between Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov and Marner, who might just have a bit of bad blood in their past. That works for me in an All-Star Game.
And on the net? Who else but Linus Ullmark, the Bruins goalie who appears to be barreling toward a Vezina Trophy that just about no one expected to start this season. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Mikko Rantanen (WITH THE) — Nathan MacKinnon (WITH THE) — Cale Makar (WITH THE)
Kirill Kaprizov (MIN) — Jason Robertson (FROM THE) — Josh Morrissey (WPG)
Clayton Keller (ARI) — Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) — Seth Jones (WHO)
Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)
Juuse Saros (NSH)
I was tapping my fingertips together in a Mr. Burns kind of way when I saw my options for the Central Division lines. “Excellent.” And that perfectly describes my first line, which is the biggest hockey no-brainer in the history of hockey no-brainers.
Of course, I’m putting together the greats from the Colorado Avalanche, forwards Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon and defenseman Cale Makar. The three are sometimes together for 3-on-3 overtime, so it works here, too.
The second line features forward Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild, who won the 2021 Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year; forward Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars, who finished second to Kaprizov in Calder voting that season; and defenseman Josh Morrissey of the Winnipeg Jets, whose production this season has him in the talk for the Norris Trophy given to the top defenseman in the NHL.
My third line is forward Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes and forward Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, who returned from a hand injury before the All-Star break, and Seth Jones, defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks, who has been playing much better as of late.
And I’m giving Connor Hellebuyck the start in goal because of his long-time consistency with the Jets. –Tracey Myers, staff writer
Leon Draisaitl (EDM) — Connor McDavid (EDM) — Erik Karlsson (SJS)
Elias Pettersson (NPV) — Bo Horvat (NPV) — Matty Beniers (SEA)
Kevin Fiala (LAK) — Nazem Kadri (CGY) — Troy Terry (ANA)
Logan Thompson (VGK)
Stuart Skinner (EDM)
It’s almost unfair. I get to load up the Pacific Division’s top line with the two top scorers in the NHL (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) and its top scoring defenseman (Erik Karlsson).
The three have combined to win the Art Ross Trophy five times (McDavid four times, Draisaitl once), the Hart Trophy three times (McDavid twice, Draisaitl once) and the Norris Trophy twice (Karlsson twice).
Who doesn’t want to see these guys play together in a 3-on-3 format?
Draisaitl and McDavid have chemistry as Edmonton Oilers teammates. So do Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat as Vancouver Canucks teammates; Pettersson has played on Horvat’s left wing before. Add Matty Beniers from the Seattle Kraken to showcase the Pacific Northwest.
That leaves Kevin Fiala, Nazem Kadri and Troy Terry. I’ll reserve the option to switch Fiala with Karlsson at some point, just to see Fiala’s speed with McDavid’s on all that open ice.
Logan Thompson gets the start in goal, but he and Stuart Skinner are fantastic stories, goalies who have worked their way up the ranks to not only make the NHL but the NHL All-Star Game. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist