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Thornton, Zetterberg worthy replacements for ASG

By Matt Shott, Contributing Editor

Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - With the NHL All-Star game quickly approaching, now that all the players have been selected and the captains chosen, all that's left is the recess-style draft to select the rosters for Team Lidstrom and Team Staal.

But in what has become a growing trend in recent years, more and more of the selected players are unable to play due to injuries or personal factors. This year it's Jarome Iginla who withdrew himself from the game due to family reasons and replaced with the 2007 All-Star MVP, Daniel Briere.

Another blow to the game came on Monday with the announcement that Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby will miss All-Star Weekend due to a concussion. His teammate Evgeni Malkin is also likely to sit out the festivities because of an injury.

The question now becomes which players should get the call as All-Star replacements, especially if more no-shows surface before the game?

Below, a list of six All-Star worthy players to consider as the NHL scrambles to replace its fallen stars.


Joe Thornton - Jumbo Joe has participated in the last six All-Star games and is currently 16th in league scoring with 43 points, tied with fellow teammate and All-Star snub Dany Heatley, who was the 2004 All-Star MVP.

Thornton gets the edge here because even though Heatley is a clear-cut goal scorer, Thornton has proven time and time again that he makes the players around him better and throwing him in a lineup with skilled players would just be incredibly fun to watch.

Henrik Zetterberg - Hank the Tank has taken the Detroit Red Wings offense and placed it on his back with injuries to Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Cleary, and Mike Modano as well as the lack of production from forward Jiri Hudler.

Zetterberg is having an MVP-caliber season, ranking seventh in league scoring and keeping the Wings atop the extremely competitive Central Division.

Mikhail Grabovski - Yes, that's right. Mikhail Grabovski should be in the NHL All-Star game representing the Toronto Maple Leafs and not Phil Kessel. Currently second on the team in points and goals, Grabo has impressed many Leaf fans with not only his scoring ability, which has been the target of ridicule the past two seasons, but also his dazzling shootout goals which have been extremely entertaining.


Keith Yandle - The NHL wants to promote hockey in Phoenix, it wants the Coyotes to succeed and it wants fans to come to the game. And yet despite all of that, Keith Yandle, one of the top up-and-coming defenseman in the league, was given snub treatment.

Yandle is sixth in scoring among defenseman, which places him higher than eight of the selected blueliners and has registered more assists than seven of the chosen players have points.

Many were upset that he wasn't given a tryout for Team USA in last year's Olympics. Let's hope he gets his chance this weekend.

Lubomir Visnovsky - The only other defenseman who has more points than Yandle but isn't in the All-Star game is Anaheim's Visnovsky.

Visnovsky has been a participant of the All-Star game once before and is not a "defensive defenseman", thus, his ability to score goals would be a great addition to a game that loves to see scoring more than anything else.


Pekka Rinne - Pekka Rinne isn't exactly a snub since the six goalies selected are all worthy, but he should be the first one contacted if one of the chosen ones decides they are unable to participate.

The reason Rinne was left off the roster was likely the injury that kept him out of the Nashville lineup for almost three weeks but, outside of that, Rinne has been a major reason the Preds are currently within the top eight in a tough Western Conference.

01/25 11:50:05 ET