To try and spice things up and make the NHL All-Star game more exciting, the league shook things up a year ago and changed the format in which the game itself was played.
Instead of doing an East vs West game, or even North America vs the World as it had been before, the NHL decided to capitalize off the new 3v3 overtime format by doing a tournament that features teams representing each of the four divisions.
Led by captain John Scott, the Pacific Division won the inaugural tournament, which the former enforcer himself took home the MVP honors.
As far as the rosters being constructed, each division would feature six forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies. The only roster spot that would be lost would be the third goalie that each conference would bring in – one for each period.
But what made building these rosters more difficult was the fact that, in the East, eight teams would have to represent the 11 roster spots. The Western conference has seven teams in each division, giving them a tad more leeway in putting the roster together.
Still needing at least one player from each team, that put a pinch on some teams and left some names off the list that may have had a chance to make it years before.
Justin Schultz definitely won’t be one of the first people to come to mind when thinking of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He wouldn’t even be the first defenseman to come to mind, that honor would probably go to Kris Letang.
So he probably won’t make too many league-wise ‘All-Star snub’ list, but make no mistake, Schultz omission from the ASG is purely due to a numbers crunch. His numbers put him among some of the best in the league offensively, and far outweigh the three defensemen who will take the ice for the Metropolitan division All-Star weekend.
Not only did Schultz lead all defensemen in points during the month of December, he finished in a tie with Artemi Panarin for the third most overall (teammates Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were first and second, respectively).
Team Influenced Based Stats
*All stats from Corsi.Hockey, based on 5v5 play
Schultz holds a pretty wide margin in all of the offensive based numbers, driving more total shots, shot attempts, and scoring chances that have turned into an extremely high GF/60 mark. He also holds the lowest GA/60 mark of the group.
|G/60||A/60||P/60||Power Play Points|
Out of all the defensemen in the league, Schultz ranks eighth in total points scored, registering 25 points thus far this season. So the fact he leads this group in P/60 should come as no surprise.
On a team with two of the three leading scorers, another in the top ten and another former All-Star defender in Letang, it was always going to be a steep uphill climb for Schultz to get the kind of recognition needed to make the ASG.
On top of that, he had to deal with a shrinking amount of roster room for the All-Star rosters. It would have been nice to get some recognition on a league-wide basis, but anyone who has watched him since leaving Edmonton will now the turnaround he has made in his career.