Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been announced as the replacement player for Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in the NHL All-Star Game. It is quite fitting for the player that was sometimes referred to as the “Russian Carey Price” as a prospect to replace one of the best goaltenders of the past decade in the All-Star Game.
Vasilevskiy will join teammates Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos in San Jose on January 25-26 for the All-Star Game weekend festivities. They also have a chance to be joined by Lightning forward Brayden Point if he wins the Last Man In vote.
Price, who has been up and down and dealing with injuries this season, decided to sit out of the All-Star Game after being selected in the initial draft of the rosters for the Atlantic Division. When word came that he was dropping out, there were two big names that came up to replace him: Vasilevskiy and Frederik Andersen of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While Vasilevskiy has piled up the wins, going 16-4-2 in 22 games, and his save percentage is certainly better than league average at .920 SV%, he hasn’t measured up in the way we’d expect with the elite goaltenders in the league. A low high danger SV% in particular has been concerning for Vasilevskiy and has led to him giving up more goals than he should have up to this point in the season.
Andersen however is also dealing with some injuries. He has had a statistically better year than Vasilevskiy and would be a deserving All-Star Game representative if he had made the team. According to Corsica Hockey, he has saved 8.89 goals above average (GSAA) which is 6th in the NHL at 5v5. I suspect that the prognosis of his injuries and a desire to get healthy down the stretch played in to Andersen not being selected (or turning down the selection if he was offered it).
One of the dark horse names was Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins. He has gone 13-6-2 in 23 GP and has a .926 SV%. He also has the 5th highest GSAA in the NHL with 8.96 just better than Andersen’s. Halak has been a surprise performer for the Bruins and has had a nice bounce back year at 33 years old. His selection may have been more of the veteran nod variety for hockey operations, but he also would have been a deserving choice.