Give the NHL some credit: they're not afraid to break new ground with the All-Star Game. From the awesome "North America vs. the World" format to the more recent
drunk completely sober fantasy draft, the league has managed to keep the mid-winter spectacle interesting.
Yesterday's announcement of a new format consisting of a 3-on-3 tournament is intriguing for a number of reasons.
First, it'll be 3-on-3. Yes! There's no checking in the All-Star Game anyways, so you might as well open things up. Second, there's something at stake: $1 million for the winning team, though I wouldn't be surprised if the money winds up going to a charity. Third, the teams will be divisional teams, meaning it'll be Team Atlantic, Team Pacific, Team Metropolitan and Team Central.
The last wrinkle is a cool one. Instead of two teams cobbled together from entire conferences, the teams will be more localized. Plus, there's a better chance of getting some unique rivalry lines: Bruins playing with Canadiens, Sharks playing with Kings, etc.
So, what will the most exciting three-man units be for each division? It's hard to say for sure, as no one knows who will be an All-Star yet. But here are some educated guesses, in no particular order.
Atlantic Division (#Flortheast)
Steven Stamkos - Jack Eichel - PK Subban
Imagine the one-timers?! Eichel will almost certainly be in this game as Buffalo's representative. Let him use his size and speed to free up space for a barrage of one-timers by Stamkos and Subban. Putting those two at the top of each circle and giving Eichel the puck with space down low should be illegal.
Pavel Datsyuk - Brad Marchand - Erik Karlsson
Combine the speed of Marchand and Karlsson with the playmaking artistry of Datsyuk and just let the magic happen.
David Krejci - Jaromir Jagr - Victor Hedman
Hedman on the back end, moving pucks (and boy, can he skate). Krejci playing with his favorite player (Jagr). Jagr playing with his favorite player (Jagr). What's not to love?
Sidney Crosby - Alexander Ovechkin - Keith Yandle
Yandle can move the puck pretty well, and that's all he'd be asked to do on this line: get it to one of the two best players in the world and get out of the way. Narratives aside, it'd be cool to see what Ovechkin and Crosby could do together. Crosby has been having an off year, but you know he'll be there when the ASG rolls around.
Nicklas Backstrom - Phil Kessel - Nick Leddy
Kessel goes from one elite center to another. Pair an elite playmaker with an elite sniper and a mobile defenseman and let them run wild.
Evgeni Malkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Noah Hanifin
The big, strong Geno and the fast, skilled Geno. Noah Hanifin gets included because he's young, talented and I wanted to include someone who wasn't a Penguin or Capital. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Tyler Seguin - Vladimir Tarasenko - Dustin Byfuglien
Speed, skill and size. Just have Byfuglien clear a lane and let the other two go to work.
Jason Spezza - Thomas Vanek - Duncan Keith
Spezza is a great playmaker. Give him a puck-moving defenseman and a guy with an elite shot like Vanek and the goals will come in bunches.
Nathan MacKinnon - Blake Wheeler - Roman Josi
The "Under the Radar" line. These three guys may not get a ton of press outside of their own markets, but they are tearing it up this season.
Joe Pavelski - Johnny Gaudreau - Drew Doughty
These guys should be able to skate circles around anyone they're matched up against.
Jeff Carter - Daniel Sedin - Brent Burns
A couple of guys with great playmaking skills combined with a roving defenseman. Someone's going to have to shoot, but they can figure it out later.
Tyler Toffoli - Taylor Hall - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Two elite young talents and a guy named Pickles. TBS is picking up the phone, it smells a hit sitcom!
BONUS: Joe Thornton - Milan Lucic - Dougie Hamilton
The "Shuld of nevar traedd" line! Hamilton hasn't had a great season, but it'd be cool to see two giants like Lucic and Thornton paired with an elite puck-mover.