We are one week into voting for the NHL's All-Star Game captains. There's about a month or so left of voting (I don't really know how this process works), so obviously a lot could change between now and The Big Hoedown In Nashville (TM). But here's the current leaderboard for defensemen:
No surprises with the top two. Subban and Karlsson are the best offensive defensemen in the game.
Burns, Weber, Byfuglien, and Doughty are also firmly in the Elite class for d-men.
Klingberg and Ekman-Larsson (both Swedish, fun fact of the day) are young defensemen on the rise, but they've taken decidedly different paths to this point. OEL was the 6th overall pick in 2009, and has largely been tearing it up for crappy Coyotes teams for the last five years. Klingberg was taken 131st overall the year after Ekman-Larsson and is playing just his second season in Dallas. OEL led all defensemen in scoring last season, and Klingberg currently leads the entire Western Conference in points and assists.
I have no idea why Rob Scuderi is in the conversation at all. His career highlight was winning the NCAA Championship while he was at BC (they beat North Dakota, but Scuderi is so fucking old that it was three years before Dave Hakstol even arrived there). Maybe his two Stanley Cups (Pittsburgh in 2009 and Los Angeles in 2012) would be considered highlights, but he's never been an elite-level defenseman and he was definitely not the driving force behind either of those Cup runs. File this one under "¯\_(ツ)_/¯".
And that brings us to the last name on the list. The top eight vote-getters have played (respectively) 394, 424, 744, 741, 712, 625, 92, and 550 games in the NHL (the tenth has played 367). The ninth guy on that list has played 13.
That might be my favorite stat of Ghost's young career. Yes, the powerplay goals and overtime winners are awesome. Yes, he's breathed life into a pretty miserable Flyers season. Yes, he has great chemistry with the team's captain and one of the three best all-around players in the league. But he's top ten in All-Star voting despite playing almost 9 full seasons worth of games fewer than Scuderi/Burns/Weber and between 5-6 full seasons worth fewer than Subban/Karlsson/Doughty.
The kid is electric, and it's great for him to be second in the Metro in votes for defensemen. The four guys behind him right now are Justin Faulk, Kris Letang, Johnny Boychuk, and Ryan McDonagh. I have a sad feeling that some combination of those four will end up representing the division in Nashville, but a large part of me hopes that the league acknowledges that his skill set is tailor-made for the 3-on-3 tournament and gives him a spot.
After all, six rookies made appearances last year (5 forwards, 1 defensemen). If I had to name the 6 most deserving rookies at this point, Panarin/Domi/Larkin are obvious locks. Jack Eichel is also a safe bet. The final two spots would be given to some combination of Oscar Lindberg, Anthony Duclair, Colton Parayko, Sam Bennett, and Gostisbehere.
Let me make the quick case for Ghost in two points: (1) you need to have one rookie on each division's team (2) everyone knows the Rangers' only actual All-Star is Henrik Lundqvist.
Boom. NHL All-Star Ghost.