Three-on-three hockey might be the greatest thing ever. And it’s quickly taking over the world. Take next month’s NHL All-Star festivities, for example, where the old format will be replaced by a new look built around a three-on-three tournament.
The rules are pretty simple: each division will send a team that consists of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. The Metro will play the Atlantic in a quick, 20-minute game, then the Central and Pacific will do the same. The two winners will meet in the title game, with $1 million going to the champs and confetti flying everywhere.
The one rule that makes things a little more complicated is that every NHL club needs to have at least one representative included. So remember that, as we piece together what the Pacific Division roster might look like.
Taylor Hall, EDM.
Right off the bat, let’s get the Edmonton representative out of the way. And this one’s easy. For as much as the Oilers are struggling (yet again), Hall has been pretty much fantastic so far. His 28 points are the most by anyone not named Daniel Sedin in this division, and his plus-11 rating is actually pretty impressive.
Is the plus/minus system outdated? Maybe. Are there advanced stats enthusiasts out there yelling at their computer screens right now? Probably. But in a lineup where plus ratings have been extremely rare recently (Hall himself was minus-15 two seasons ago), it at least seems worth pointing out.
Johnny Gaudreau, CGY.
Much like with Hall, giving the nod to Gaudreau is a pretty effective way to select a deserving player, while also fulfilling the requirement of taking someone from the struggling Flames.
Daniel Sedin, VAN.
The knock on the Canucks to start the season was that they’d need some pretty ridiculous production from that top line to have any chance of succeeding this season. So far, so good, as Daniel Sedin’s 29 points rank him sixth in the NHL.
Henrik Sedin, VAN.
Well, obviously you can’t have one Sedin without the other. That would cause a portal to another universe to open, and that was never discussed at the GM meetings.
Max Domi, ARI.
The three-on-three format may as well have been designed for this guy, who ranks second among all NHL rookies with 23 points, tied for second in goals with 10 and has a tendency to make electrifying plays like this. The Coyotes suddenly look like a potential playoff contender again and — while Domi isn’t the only reason why — he’s a huge piece of the puzzle.
Joe Pavelski, SJS.
There are plenty of other deserving forwards (Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter quickly come to mind), but taking Pavelski makes sense because he’s the top scorer in the Pacific with 12 goals (along with Daniel Sedin) and he’s been pivotal in keeping the Sharks near the top of the division with Logan Couture sidelined.
Drew Doughty, LAK.
For however long this new format sticks, you can probably just go ahead and pencil Doughty in. Considering everything that he provides for the Kings and all that he’s already accomplished in this league, it’s somewhat surprising that he hasn’t won the Norris Trophy yet — though that may change in the not-too-distant future. Either way, it’s almost impossible to imagine three better D-men emerging in this division anytime soon.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI.
Much like Doughty, it seems like a pretty safe bet to pencil OEL in here for a while too. He doesn’t have the rings that Doughty has, but he’s just as important to Arizona. And he possesses that rare ability to eat up big minutes, play solid defense against the opposition’s top weapons and chip in some significant offensive production. Not to mention the fact that his 19 game-winning goals since he entered the league in 2010-11 are the most by any blueliner in that stretch.
Brent Burns, SJS.
Sometimes he’s a forward, sometimes he’s a defenseman. How can you even consider having a three-on-three exhibition game without him? Think of the possibilities!
Frederik Andersen, ANA.
Time for the first Duck, which seems pretty indicative of how their season has gone so far. Even when Anaheim was really struggling, Anderson was playing well. As they slogged through an October where they won just one of 10 games, Andersen kept them in it most nights, posting a .932 save percentage while surrendering more than two goals in a contest just twice.
Jonathan Quick, LAK.
Taking Pavelski over Carter and Toffoli sort of balances things out and allows us to take Quick here. If that just doesn’t work for you though, you could swap Pavelski out for one of the Kings up front, then go with Martin Jones — who can make a strong case with his 2.23 goals against average and three shutouts — here instead. Or, you know, fans can just vote in John Scott as the captain and throw all this out the window.