The NHL has been trying to figure out the best way to get the fans involved in voting without giving them the power to create hard-to-mitigate chaos, waffling between various ideas and concepts since the people controversially voted in career enforcer John Scott.
This year, they’ve tried a two-pronged fan approach, giving the power to vote in the team’s requisite star as each of the four divisional captains before giving them one final chance to vote in a player of their choice.
With that second vote, Avalanche fans have the chance to vote in the entirety of the team’s top line for the event at the end of the month.
The second vote gives fans the opportunity to vote in what’s been coined as the ‘Last Man In’, which brings one final player from each division to the festivities in San Jose on January 25th and 26th. Each team has one player up for the four spots, preventing voting dilution on teams with multiple snubs, and each player can be voted for up to 10 times per day by anyone taking part.
For the Avalanche, that ‘Last Man In’ candidate is Gabriel Landeskog, who remains the only member of the top line not already present in the All Star Game lineup.
Nathan MacKinnon was voted in as the Central Division captain, and the league filled another of the division’s six forward slots by adding Mikko Rantanen to give Colorado two representatives. They’re one of just seven teams that have two representatives, with one final team — the San Jose Sharks — bringing a trio of players as the host franchise.
If Landeskog were to be added, the Avalanche would join San Jose in having three players present, although they’d be one of just three teams that would be able to bring three forwards if they managed to get their captain voted in. Tampa Bay — who are already bringing Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov — are trying to get in Brayden Point, while Winnipeg — who are bringing Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele — are trying to get in Patrik Laine.
It’s going to be a tough vote. The Avalanche lack the national exposure that some of the other teams have, making it difficult to get Landeskog past other Central candidates like Tyler Seguin or Jonathan Toews. And working against him is the fact that he hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as either MacKinnon or Rantanen this year, serving as the quiet(ish) third member of the league’s most impressive line.
What does help him, though, is that every one of the Central candidates up for the Last Man vote are forwards — and with the easy ability to directly compare his stats to theirs, he’s the clear choice to choose. His 47 points in 42 games are the sixth-highest in the Central Division, the highest among players not already named to the roster, and the best in terms of scoring rates among the Central’s seven candidates. Even Filip Forsberg, who missed substantial time earlier in the season, hasn’t managed to hit Landeskog’s 1.12 points-per game pace in his return to the ice.
Getting Landeskog in seems like overkill, but it’s a nice reward for a guy who’s managed to help out a pair of teammates as they come into their own. Despite a tough year two seasons ago, he’s managed to be the glue that held the Avalanche together through a brief standings tumble, guiding their stars as both a linemate and a captain. Giving the full line a chance to go celebrate in Cali together and skate out for the 3-v-3 tournament seems like an easy choice.