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By: Aaron Chisling Follow me on Twitter @achisling
With the news on Friday that Tampa Bay Lightning stud blueliner Victor Hedman would be out three to six weeks due to a lower-body injury, fans have already begun the investigative search for a replacement defenseman from the Atlantic Division. Hedman was one of four Lightning players selected to the All-Star Game from the Atlantic Division, slated to be hosted in downtown Tampa at Amalie Arena.
There are a few candidates that jump to mind when thinking about defensemen in the Atlantic Division. On a normal year, Erik Karlsson would be a shoo-in. His Senators have struggled mightily, and that struggle has been mirrored by his performance on-ice this season.
Do the organizers of the All-Star Game give the nod to fellow Lightning blueliner and rookie Mikhail Sergachev? The Russian rookie has tallied eight goals and eighteen assists while eating up an average of 15:41 time on ice per game.
Do they go with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly? Reilly has tallied thirty-one points on the year with 22:04 average time on ice. He’s been a great story so far with the Leafs sitting comfortably in third in the Atlantic with a sizable gap between them and the bottom-dwelling Atlantic teams.
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The NHL loves its marketable players. The NHL loves its original six franchises. The NHL loves rookies with a great story to tell and personalities. Why not Charlie McAvoy? The Long Island and Boston University Terrier alumni has proven he is more than capable of handling the rigors of the NHL and has flourished. McAvoy has been a workhorse for the Bruins, playing in special teams situations and in critical moments on a nightly basis. He’s tallied twenty-three points through his first forty-one games and boasts a +15 plus-minus ratio.
Most notably, however, is his average time on ice. Charlie McAvoy sits at thirty-ninth in the entire NHL in average time on ice per game, surpassing the two other names I proposed earlier, and he also leads all rookies in the NHL in this category by four minutes and two seconds. That isn’t a minuscule difference. McAvoy is playing top pairing minutes as a 19/20-year-old and is an All-Star even if the NHL elects to not bestow that honor upon him.
But how cool would it be if they did add McAvoy to the All-Star Game?