One former Eagle is surprisingly missing from the 2017 NHL All-Star Game rosters, which were announced today: Cam Atkinson. BC has plenty of big name players in the NHL, but Atkinson stands out as deserving of All-Star Game recognition considering the season he is having. There are always going to be players that deserve it that don’t make the All-Star Game, but here is why Atkinson should have been selected...
Atkinson leads the Blue Jackets with 39 points and 19 goals, and is second on the team with 20 assists. He has been a huge factor in Columbus’ success so far this season, including during their 16 game winning streak that was recently ended by the Washington Capitals.
Atkinson’s 39 points put him in 8th place in the NHL, behind star players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Tyler Seguin. He is in 6th place in the league in goals, and every player with more goals than him this season was selected for the All-Star Game. And Atkinson’s goals aren’t just tip-ins and rebounds - he scores lots of really beautiful goals that require skill to set-up and are fun to watch. (Not that rebounds and tip-ins aren’t important too. They just aren’t as all-star-y.)
In addition to his stellar offensive stats, Atkinson has only 10 penalty minutes so far this season and has maintained a positive +/-.
It could be argued that the NHL wanted to ensure that no one team had too many representatives in the All-Star Game (Columbus has Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky) if not for the fact that Chicago has FOUR players on the Central roster.
The other forwards on the Metropolitan Team are Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Taylor Hall, Wayne Simmonds, and John Tavares. Malkin and Crosby are the only players on that list with more points than Atkinson at the moment, and only Crosby has more goals. It is probable that every player on that list has better name recognition than Atkinson to the casual hockey fan, and there certainly is no way you can leave Ovechkin off an All-Star roster. But Atkinson has objectively had a better season than Tavares, and has similar offensive stats to Simmonds along with far fewer penalties and a better plus/minus.
Obviously we’re biased over at BCI, but between Columbus’ surprising success and Atkinson’s explosive offensive, leaving Atkinson off the roster seems like a big oversight.