Wingers: 11-15

11 – David Pastrnak

The six-year, $40 million deal the Bruins were able to get Pastrnak to agree to at the start of training camp is going to be a steal. He’s been one of the NHL’s top offensive producers per 60 minutes since coming into the league and last season put up 34 goals and 70 points after the Bruins took the training wheels off. The future is bright.

12 – Cam Atkinson

One of the biggest breakout stars on a Columbus team that was full of them last season. Atkinson exploded for 35 goals in 2016-17, nine of which were game-winners. He was the best player throughout the Jackets’ 16-game winning streak that stretched from November to January, putting up 10 goals and 18 points in that stretch.

13 – Patrik Laine

The second overall pick of the 2016 draft is the best pure goal scorer to come out since Alex Ovechkin was selected first overall in 2004. He was the best rookie not named Auston Mathews in the NHL last season, putting up 36 goals and 64 points in 73 games. Of those 64 points, 50 came at even strength. Laine won’t bury at the 17.6 percent rate like he did in his rookie campaign, but you have to figure he’ll shoot for a higher volume than the 204 pucks he put on net last season. Running alongside Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler won’t do his numbers any harm, either.

14 – Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau ripped it up in college but his size (or lack thereof) raised questions about how he’d fare in the NHL. Turns out he was just fine. At 24, Gaudreau is the face of one the NHL’s best young teams and among the best playmaking forwards in the league. Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are one of the top center-wing combos in the game.

15 – Filip Forsberg

When Forsberg caught fire in the second half of the 2016-17 season (22 of his 31 goals came in the final 41 games), it energized Nashville’s top line that consists of the 23-year-old, Ryan Johansen, and Victor Arvidsson. Much was made of the Predators defensive corps en route to the their first Stanley Cup Final appearance last season – and for good reason – but that top forward line had as much to do with it.


Cam Atkinson added to All-Star roster he should’ve been on all along

Cam Atkinson has been a good NHL player for quite some time now. He’s emerged as one of the league’s breakout stars this season.

Amidst what has been a breakout season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Atkinson has been the club’s best player with 24 goals and 46 points in 47 games, the point total tying him for eighth with Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele. He was the catalyst behind the Jackets league-high 16-game winning streak this season, with 10 goals and 18 points over that stretch from November 29th to January 3rd.

It was for the reason why it was a little bit of a shock that Atkinson wasn’t added to the Metropolitan Division team for the NHL All-Star Game, not that the group of forwards was any slouch with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Wayne Simmonds, and Taylor Hall. The Blue Jackets roster spot among skaters (all 30 teams must have at least one player) went to defenseman Seth Jones. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was named an all-star as well.

But with Malkin pulling out of the game due to a lower-body injury, a spot opened up for Atkinson, who was the obvious replacement. So with Malkin out, it was Atkinson in, and he’ll suit up on Sunday in Los Angeles, as should have been the case all along.

It wasn’t unreasonable to feel a third spot for Columbus was necessary given the season it was having, but squeezing in another Blue Jacket was easier said than done given how strong the Metro is as opposed the Central Division; which included four Blackhawks or the Pacific; where three San Jose Sharks made the team. There’s no doubt the idea of having a team for every division creates a flaw, in that some divisions have a lot more talent than others (the Atkinson case being Exhibit ‘A’) but this current format of the four divisions coming together for a four-team short tournament has created a buzz around the event like never before.