BUFFALO, N.Y. — The NHL shows us each and every day what a garage league it is with their officiating, but they took it one step further with the All-Star Game.
Tage Thompson should've been the Buffalo Sabres representative last season because Rasmus Dahlin was just starting his huge improvement, but everything Kevyn Adams and Don Granato did was to help boost Dahlin's confidence, so they got the NHL to choose him. It worked like a charm because Dahlin is probably playing like the second best defenseman in the NHL right now behind Erik Karlsson of the San Jose Sharks.
Dahlin is not only excelling offensively, but he has become an elite shutdown defenseman in his own end too.
Thompson once again deserves to represent the team and this year he got the nod. Thompson is on a pace to score 58 goals and 58 assists for 116 points. Dahlin has 14 goals and 39 assists for 53 points. Over 82 games, that's 25 goals and 70 assists for 95 points. He is right now at what was his career high in points and he's only played 46 games.
And that’s the rub. The second best defenseman in the National Hockey League is not invited to their All-Star Game. I understand it’s a 3-on-3 format, but how is each division not represented with a defenseman? The Atlantic Division has no defensemen in its roster, none!
Karlsson will play for the Pacific Division and Adam Fox of the New York Rangers will play for the Metropolitan. In typical goofy NHL fashion, the Central Division has three defensemen on the roster, Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, Josh Morrissey of the Winnipeg Jets and Seth Jones of the Chicago Blackhawks.
If they have to expand the rosters by a player to make sure each division has a defenseman, so be it. The fact that a player that is dominating like Rasmus Dahlin is not going to be in the All-Star Game is an embarrassment to this league.
To put it in perspective, that would be like Connor McDavid making the game, but Leon Draisaitl, the NHL’s second leading scorer having to stay home.
Injuries could put Dahlin into the game, so there’s still time, but it shouldn’t have to take an injury to have a player of Dahlin’s status in the game.
The all-star weekend begins Feb. 3 in Sunrise, Fla. Buffalo will also have its bye week, so the team will be gone from Feb. 2 through Feb. 8.