The NHL All-Star Game gives fans and coaches the opportunity to see players play with others that they have not before and may never get to again. Heading into the 2023 All-Star Weekend in Sunrise, Florida, NoVa Caps comes up with line combinations that we would like to see during Saturday’s game (3 PM ET, ESPN, ESPN+).
LW Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), C Jack Hughes (New Jersey Devils), D Adam Fox (New York Rangers)
While the hype going into this weekend‘s festivities swirl around Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, seeing the 37-year-old and his shot with a crafty playmaker who can do wonders with the puck and is just 21-years-old in Hughes is tempting to pair up. Ovechkin is the notorious goal scorer but Hughes is not bad at it himself with 33 in just 49 games this season.
Fox is excellent at both ends of the ice and can create highlight real plays both offensively and defensively. With Ovechkin being known as a weak defensive player and Hughes just entering his prime, putting Fox with them could make up for their defensive deficiencies in addition to having a playmaking defenseman.
Crosby, LW Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina Hurricanes), LW Artemi Panarin (New York Rangers)
Svechnikov, who is listed at 6’2” and 195 pounds, could give Crosby (tied for 15th in the NHL with 36 helpers this season) and Panarin (tied for 11th with 38) room to make plays and generate opportunities as both (well, all three) are extremely talented playmakers. Svechnikov is currently tied for 64th in the NHL with 105 hits this season.
Crosby (10-time 30-goal scorer) and Panarin (five-time 27-goal scorer) have both proven each of their scoring prowesses are elite so they have the ability to finish in addition to making spectacular set ups (Panarin has at least 41 assists in each of his seven full NHL seasons, Crosby has hit 40-assist mark 13 times). Even though they have focused more on passing lately, Svechnikov scored 30 goals last season, giving the trio a present scoring threat.
C Tage Thompson (Buffalo Sabres), RW Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning), LW Matthew Tkachuk (Florida Panthers)
Kucherov leads the NHL with 53 assists this season while Thompson is tied for third with 34 goals. Tkachuk (tied for 18th with 25 goals, tied for sixth with 41 points) is among the best in both of those areas and can be a physical specimen.
Both Thompson (6’6”, 220 lbs) and Tkachuk (6’2”, 201 lbs) provide big frames while Kucherov has also shown the ability to get feisty at times. Having three players together who can hit, score, and make plays is a nightmare for anyone who has to go against them.
C Aleksander Barkov (Florida), RW Mitch Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs), RW David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins)
Marner, who had at least 42 assists in each of his first six NHL seasons and is already at 41 in 52 games this time around, gives Barkov, a two-time 35+ goal scorer, and Pastrnak, who has hit 34 goals six times and is second with 38 this season, an elite playmaker.
Barkov, who has had at least 42 assists in a campaign four times in his 10-season career, can also play the role of playmaker with Pastrnak down his wing.
LW Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild), C Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), D Cale Makar (Colorado)
Both forwards have the ability to make plays (MacKinnon, 41 assists; Kaprizov, 32) while Kaprizov has a special scoring touch after he tallied 47 goals last season and has 27 already this season.
Meanwhile, Makar and MacKinnon both have explosive speed that will bode well for Kaprizov’s finishing ability and hands. Kaprizov, who tallied 61 assists last season, could also play the role of playmaker and MacKinnon (three-time 35-goal scorer) could be the finisher. This trio consists of three of the most talented players in the world. It would be a treat to see them play together.
Makar has never had fewer than 36 assists in a season and had 58 last season but putting three of the best passers (who can also finish) together could make for some art on the ice.
LW Nick Robertson (Dallas Stars), RW Mikko Rantanen (Colorado), D Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets)
Robertson, 23, can do pretty much anything and everything as he has 33 goals and 66 points in 51 games this season a year after tallying 41 goals and 79 points. Rantanen, 26, also has that balance between playmaking and scoring with 34 goals and 61 points in 48 games. He also carries a big frame at 6’4”, 215 pounds which could benefit a smaller man like Robertson.
The two would also be set up to score some goals as Morrissey, 27, ranks fifth in the NHL (including second among defenseman) with 43 assists.
C Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), C Nazem Kadri (Calgary Flames), D Erik Karlsson (San Jose Sharks)
Kadri, 32, can be a physical player as he has 53 hits this season and the reputation of getting under his opponent’s skin. He could be a great compliment for McDavid, the NHL’s leading goal scorer (41) and point producer (92) in just 50 games, as Kadri would open up space for him and Karlsson as well.
In addition to the edge that Kadri brings, Karlsson, who ranks third overall in assists with 50 in 51 games, would also make McDavid an even bigger threat by setting him up for scoring chances which could only improve with the room on the ice Kadri creates.
Also, who wouldn’t want to see a Calgary player down McDavid’s wing?
C Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks), C Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton), RW Kevin Fiala (Los Angeles Kings)
Draisaitl, 27, is a big body (6’2”, 208 pounds) who is excellent at scoring (two career seasons with at least 50 goals) and passing (45 assists in each of last seven seasons). Perhaps, his scoring ability would be further brought to light with the presence of Pettersson (at least 36 assists in each of four full seasons) and Fiala (138 helpers over last four seasons) there to do it for him.
It’s not like Fiala (33 goals last season with Minnesota) and Pettersson (at least 27 goals in each of three full seasons) are slouches when it comes to scoring goals either.
Having Draisaitl’s size with Pettersson (6’2”, 176 pounds) and Fiala (5’10”, 204 pounds) might also bode well as Pettersson and Fiala both have smaller bodies for NHL players.
By Harrison Brown