The NHL has begun announcing replacements for players who are not able to compete in the 2018 All-Star Game. The first player named came as a bit of a surprise. Subbing in for an injured Victor Hedman will be our own Brayden Point!
The second year player was officially named to Coach Jon Cooper’s Atlantic squad on Wednesday and will be joining fellow teammates Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The surprise comes not from Point being an undeserving candidate for the All Star Game, but because traditionally teams replace defensive players with other defensive players.
When Hedman suffered his knee injury earlier this month there was speculation that Boston’s Charlie McAvoy or Toronto’s Morgan Rielly would replace him. Unfortunately McAvoy, a rookie who has been having a sensational season for the Bruins, had to undergo a procedure to correct an abnormal heart rhythm and will be sidelined for awhile.
As for Reilly, the Maple Leaf defender had a fantastic season of his own halted by a knee injury suffered last week in a game against Philadelphia. It’s a wonder if this spot on the roster is cursed. For now, the Atlantic has just two defensemen on the roster, Erik Karlsson and Mike Green. It is possible that between now and the weekend other replacements will be named that change that dynamic, but if not, well Karlsson and Green are used to logging huge minutes for their team in the regular season and it’s not like they have to rest up for the playoffs.
Having Point named to the roster does give Coach Cooper the opportunity to roll out an all-Lightning line in front of the hometown crowd. Since the games themselves are glorified exhibitions, defense isn’t exactly a necessity.
That being said, Point is fairly responsible with the puck and his speed on open ice should make for some exciting play no matter who he is matched up with. His league-leading three overtime goals (a stat he shares with Alex Ovechkin) attests to his knack for adapting his play to the 3-on-3 style. Those three tallies are also part of his seven game-winning goals on the season. Another stat that ties him among the the league leaders.
The former third round pick has built on a successful rookie campaign in his second year of play. His 43 points trails only Stamkos and Kucherov while his 19 goals is second on the team behind Kucherov. Point has teamed up with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat (prior to Palat’s lower-body injury against Minnesota, that is) to form a bonafide threatening second scoring line that helps relieve some of the pressure off of Stamkos and Kucherov.
The recent injuries have swizzled up the lines a bit, but Point continues to put up the...well...points. After a bit of a slump (no points in four games) to start the year, he’s responded with seven in his last six games including two goals against Minnesota. He is a threat to score everytime he is on the ice and his numbers reflect that as he has fourteen regular strength goals, three power play goals and two shorthanded goals.
A benefit to Point being named to the team is the chance for him to win the Enterprise NHL fastest skater contest taking place during the skills competition on Saturday.
Congratulations to Brayden Point.