It’s official. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forward James Neal, along with head coach Gerard Gallant, will be representing the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2018 NHL All-Star Game! Excitement!
Fleury’s been fantastic in net (when healthy) for the Golden Knights. In 12 games, Fleury has gone 9-2-1 and posted a .945 save percentage along with a ridiculous 1.73 goals against average. Neal has also put together a solid campaign, scoring 18 goals and 29 points in 41 games.
However, as good as Fleury and Neal have been, they certainly aren’t the two Knights players most deserving of a trip to the All-Star game.
Those players would be Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.
Marchessault’s absence from the All-Star roster is particularly baffling. Not only does the 27-year-old forward lead the Golden Knights with 40 points, but he also leads Vegas with a 55.62 Corsi For percentage at even strength and ranks tied for third in the entire NHL with 1.18 ixGF/60 at 5-on-5 (minimum of 300 minutes of ice time). The Cap-Rouge, Quebec native is fresh off a 30-goal campaign with the Florida Panthers, so it’s not like he’s an unknown figure amongst the NHL’s elite.
Like Marchessault, Karlsson is having an extraordinary season as well. Just 41 games into the season, the 25-year-old Swede leads the Golden Knights with 22 goals, shattering his previous career high of just nine goals in a single campaign. Only four players (Nikita Kucherov, Alex Ovechkin, Anders Lee and Sean Couturier) have scored more goals than Karlsson so far this season. Granted, Karlsson’s shooting percentage (25.9) is unsustainably high, but that shouldn’t keep him from earning a spot in the All-Star game.
Of course, these rosters still aren’t totally set in stone. If an All-Star from the Pacific Division is unable to make the trip to Tampa Bay due to injury, illness, et cetera, Marchessault or Karlsson are potential candidates take their place. If not, though, they’ll have to wait until next season for another chance to earn All-Star honors.
Nevertheless, it will be pretty exciting to see Fleury and Neal playing amongst the top players in the NHL. It’s just strange that the two best players on Vegas’ roster will be watching the game from home.
All statistics courtesy of Corsica.Hockey.