From the pandemic-shortened season to the qualifying round to #BubbleLife, the 2020 NHL playoffs have been unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
In that spirit, here’s something else you don’t see very often: NHL playoff all-star teams by country. The Big Six nations are represented – Canada, United States, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden – plus a “Rest of World” team covering off the best of the rest.
For each country, the all-star team consists of three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie, plus a rookie and an honorable mention all-star team.
Forward: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado. He was on pace to challenge Wayne Gretzky’s all-time single-season playoff scoring record of 47 points had the Avs advanced to the Stanley Cup final. Maybe next year?
Forward: Brayden Point, Tampa Bay. Scored the five-OT winner against Columbus in Game 1 of the first round and then eliminated the Blue Jackets with another OT tally in Game 5. And he kept scoring all the way to the Cup final.
Forward: Nazem Kadri, Colorado. Put back-to-back playoff disasters in Toronto behind him with an inspired showing for the Avalanche, scoring nine goals – including five game-winners – in 15 games.
Defense: Shea Theodore, Vegas. Every NHL post-season features a breakout performer, and Theodore did his best to stake a claim with seven goals and nearly a point per game in 19 contests for the Golden Knights.
Defense: Cale Makar, Colorado. Four goals including two game-winners, a point per game and a plus-12 rating while playing nearly 24 minutes per night. Not bad for a rookie defenseman.
Goalie: Carter Hart, Philadelphia. It’s Hart almost by default, considering he was the only Canadian starting goalie to make it out of the first round. But he earned the honor with a 9-5 record, 2.23 goals-against average and .926 save percentage for the Flyers.
Rookie: Cale Makar, Colorado. With six points in 10 post-season games last year and 15 points in 15 games this year, Makar holds the NHL record for most career playoff points by a rookie defenseman (21).
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) Josh Bailey, NY Islanders; (F) Jamie Benn, Dallas; (F) Mark Stone, Vegas; (D) Jamie Oleksiak, Dallas; (D) Ryan Pulock, NY Islanders; (G) Carey Price, Montreal.
Forward: Brock Nelson, NY Islanders. He was in the running for the playoff goal lead – and was sitting comfortably in the top 10 in points – when the Isles were eliminated in the East final.
Forward: J.T. Miller, Vancouver. Made magic with Elias Pettersson in the regular season and nothing changed in the playoffs.
Forward: Joe Pavelski, Dallas. With 13 more playoff goals (and counting), only four active NHL players – Patrick Marleau (72), Alex Ovechkin (69), Sidney Crosby (68) and Evgeni Malkin (63) – have more career post-season tallies than Pavelski’s 61 (and counting).
Defense: Quinn Hughes, Vancouver. Superb. Sublime. Supreme. Pick your superlative.
Defense: Nate Schmidt, Vegas. There are other candidates – Golden Knights teammate Alex Martinez, Tampa Bay’s Kevin Shattenkirk, the Isles’ Nick Leddy – but let’s go with Schmidt on the strength of his nine points and 23-plus minutes in 20 playoff contests.
Goalie: Thatcher Demko, Vancouver. Rookie netminder only played four games, and only three starts. But no American goalie played more than four games in the playoffs, and none could compete with his ridiculous 0.64 GAA and .985 save percentage.
Rookie: Quinn Hughes, Vancouver. Sixteen points in 17 games in his NHL playoff debut. You wouldn’t trade him for Jack at this point.
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia; (F) Alex Tuch, Vegas; (F) Anders Lee, NY Islanders; (D) Kevin Shattenkirk, Tampa Bay; (D) Alec Martinez, Vegas; (G) Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg.
Forward: Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay. Eleven goals including three game-winners and an OT tally, with a plus-13 rating while playing nearly 21 minutes per night. And back in the final.
Forward: David Krejci, Boston. With 12 points in 13 games, he moved into ninth place among active NHLers with 115 career playoff points.
Forward: David Pastrnak, Boston. For most players, three goals and 10 points in 10 games would be a great playoff performance. But the bar is set higher for Pastrnak.
Defense: Michal Kempny, Washington. Only three Czech defensemen appeared in the 2020 playoffs. Kempny averaged 19-plus minutes in five games to take top honors.
Defense: Radko Gudas, Washington. Gudas averaged nearly 16 minutes in five games to beat out Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta (one game).
Goalie: Petr Mrazek, Carolina. Posted a 2.08 GAA and .929 save percentage in five starts for the Hurricanes.
Rookie: Dominik Kubalik, Chicago. The NHL’s leading rookie goal-scorer in the regular season delivered four goals and eight points in nine games.
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) Dominik Kubalik, Chicago; (F) Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia; (F) Radek Faksa, Dallas; (D) Jan Rutta, Tampa Bay; (D) n/a; (G) Pavel Francouz, Colorado.
Forward: Mikko Rantanen, Colorado. Gretzky had Kurri, MacKinnon has Rantanen. OK, that’s a little over the top, but you get the point.
Forward: Sebastian Aho, Carolina. He’s been breaking out for four years and he’s still underrated.
Forward: Roope Hintz, Dallas. The Stars need secondary offense and he supplies it. After five goals in 13 playoff games as a rookie last season, he’s produced 13 points in 25 games this year – and a berth in the final.
Defense: Miro Heiskanen, Dallas. Few have shone brighter than the all-around Stars defenseman in the 2020 NHL playoffs.
Defense: Esa Lindell, Dallas. Relatively unheralded on a defense corps headlined by Heiskanen and Klingberg, but he’s playing 24-plus minutes per game and chipped in with seven even-strength points.
Goalie: Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus. Set the all-time NHL playoff record with 85 saves in quintuple-overtime loss against Tampa Bay in Round 1. The previous record of 73 saves was set by the Isles’ Kelly Hrudey against Washington in 1987.
Rookie: Joel Kiviranta, Dallas. Seriously, who the hell is this guy?
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) Joonas Donskoi, Colorado; (F) Joel Armia, Montreal; (F) Teuvo Teravanien, Carolina; (D) Olli Maatta, Chicago; (D) Sami Vatanen, Carolina; (G) Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton.
Forward: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay: No Stamkos, no problem.
Forward: Denis Gurianov, Dallas. Delivered a four-goal, five-point effort in Game 6 elimination of Calgary in first round.
Forward: Alexander Radulov, Dallas. He’s come through in the clutch with two overtime tallies among his four playoff game-winners.
Defense: Ivan Provorov, Philadelphia. Get used to seeing this guy on all-star teams.
Defense: Mikhail Sergachev, Tampa Bay. Still just 22, he’s mobile with a big shot, and learning plenty from the likes of Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh.
Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay. The best goalie in the playoffs from start to finish.
Rookie: Denis Gurianov, Dallas. Cooled off in the last couple of rounds, but he was still in the mix for the overall playoff goal lead.
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina; (F) Vladislav Namestnikov, Colorado; (F) Alex Ovechkin, Washington; (D) Nikita Zadorov, Colorado; (D) Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus; (G) Anton Khudobin, Dallas.
Forward: Elias Pettersson, Vancouver. It’s no coincidence the Canucks have gone from forgettable to formidable in the two short years since Pettersson arrived.
Forward: Andre Burakovsky, Colorado. Among NHLers who played at least five playoff games, Burakovsky ranks first in the league in 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes (5.21) and second in 5-on-5 goals per 60 minutes (2.23).
Forward: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado. Exactly what you want in a wingman – a point-a-game player who does plenty more than provide points.
Defense: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay. Joined Paul Coffey (12 goals with Edmonton in 1985), Dustin Byfuglien (11 goals with Chicago in 2010) and Brian Leetch (11 goals with the Rangers in 1994) as the only defensemen in NHL history to score double-digit goals in a single post-season.
Defense: John Klingberg, Dallas. He’d be getting a lot more hype if it wasn’t for Conn Smythe Trophy candidates Hedman and Heiskanen.
Goalie: Robin Lehner, Vegas. Caused a kerfuffle when he pushed Marc-Andre Fleury to the bench, but it’s hard to argue with the results – 9-7 record, 1.99 GAA, .917 save percentage and playoff-best four shutouts.
Rookie: Kevin Stenlund, Columbus. Of the five Swedish rookies who appeared in the playoffs, he’s the only one who scored a goal.
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) William Karlsson, Vegas; (F) Mikael Backlund, Calgary; (F) Elias Lindholm, Calgary; (D) Alexander Edler, Vancouver; (D) Rasmus Andersson, Calgary; (G) Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver.
REST OF WORLD
Forward: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton (Germany). Averaged a point-and-a-half per game, unfortunately the Oilers only played four games.
Forward: Michael Raffl, Philadelphia (Austria). Four goals in nine games after just eight tallies in 58 regular-season outings.
Forward: Tobias Rieder, Calgary (Germany). Zero goals in 67 games last season and four goals in 55 games this season…then he goes out and scores three goals and five points in 10 post-season games, including a playoff-leading three shorthanded points.
Defense: Erik Cernak, Tampa Bay (Slovakia). Big, tough and physical, he’s a core part of Tampa Bay’s defense corps for the foreseeable future.
Defense: Andrej Sekera, Dallas (Slovakia). Veteran depth defender quietly goes about his business.
Goalie: Philipp Grubauer, Colorado (Germany). Too bad he got hurt because he was playing great – 5-0 record, 1.87 GAA and .922 save percentage.
Rookie: Alexandre Texier, Columbus (France). He’ll be a vital cog in the Blue Jackets’ offense sooner rather than later.
Honorable mention all-star team: (F) Kevin Fiala, Minnesota (Switzerland); (F) Michael Grabner, Arizona (Austria); (F) Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus (Denmark); (D) Roman Josi, Nashville (Switzerland); (D) Zdeno Chara, Boston (Slovakia); (G) Thomas Greiss, NY Islanders (Germany).