It feels like a good day to start a debate, no? Let’s take a look at the NWHL’s All-Star All-Snub team for 2019. Here are six players — five skaters and one goaltender — who have been having playing like All-Stars, but won’t get to step onto the ice for the NWHL’s 2019 All-Star Weekend in Nashville, TN.
Note: Some players who were not picked may have not been able to attend the All-Star Skills Competition and Game.
Katie McGovern | Minnesota Whitecaps
McGovern is tied for third in the league in points and has put up eight points at even strength in eight games, but she’s not an All-Star. Yeah, we don’t get it either.
The Arizona-native has been a revelation on Minnesota’s second line and the chemistry she has developed with Jonna Curtis has helped Curtis earn 11 points in eight games. McGovern is also one of the league’s top faceoff specialists. She’s a remarkable 62.12 percent on the dot this season. We’re not saying that being great at faceoffs is a qualification for the All-Star Game, but hey, it can’t hurt.
The biggest strike against Curtis when we evaluate her by the optics is that she’s a pass-first, two-way center. She excels at creating chances for her teammates, which is why she has five assists at even strength on the season. Playmakers are rarely given enough credit for their role as catalysts for scoring chances. And McGovern getting overlooked as an All-Star in her first year in the NWHL is a prime example of that.
Rebecca Russo | Metropolitan Riveters
Russo has been the Riveters’ most consistent forward this season. She’s also third on her team in points, behind only All-Stars Amanda Kessel and Audra Richards. Unlike many of the league’s top scoring forwards, Russo has picked up all five of her points at even strength. In other words, her stats haven’t been buoyed by power play production and they certainly haven’t been padded by empty net goals or assists on empty-netters.
Russo is also second in the league in shots on goal. If the NWHL tracked scoring chances, she would undoubtedly be leading the Riveters in that category this season. Besides, who doesn’t want to see her in a foot race with Kendall Coyne Schofield and Allie Thunstrom?
Maddie Elia | Buffalo Beauts
Elia is the only player of the four NWHL skaters who lead the league with six goals who wasn’t named an All-Star. Seriously, need we say more?
Buffalo’s offense is fueled by the dynamic duo of Hayley Scamurra — who was named an All-Star this year — and Elia. However, it seems that Elia has never quite received the credit and praise that she deserves. It’s a trend that needs to come to an end, and soon.
The Beauts’ top line center is one of the best agitators in the league, but that doesn’t mean she’s lacking in puck skills. Elia is tied for fifth in the league in points heading into the final weekend before the NWHL’s holiday break. She has three multi-point games this season and is one of the league’s most productive forwards at even strength. Elia is undoubtedly having an All-Star caliber season.
Lauren Kelly | Boston Pride
Rookie defender Kelly has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. She has three points for Boston in seven games this season, including a power play goal. Kelly had a big 12-goal senior season at Northeastern University last year, but she has still surprised a lot of people this season with her puck skills.
The Pride needed some new energy on their blue line in a big, bad way this season and Kelly is one of the new faces who is turning things around for Boston.
Jenny Ryan | Metropolitan Riveters
This season Ryan hasn’t put up the numbers that had so many of us buzzing about her play and wondering if there was a place for her on the national team last season. However, she is still among the NWHL’s top defenders in getting shots through to the net — which is undoubtedly a skill.
Ryan and the Riveters have had a tough go of things this season. She’s a -5 in the plus/minus department and has penalties in three straight games, but is still one of the best puck-moving defenders in the league. It’s also strange to see Courtney Burke, Ryan’s d-partner, picked as an All-Star over her when Burke has missed much of the season due to an injury.
Katie Burt | Boston Pride
Burt is almost certainly the biggest snub on this list. Not only has Burt taken over the starting goaltender role from Brittany Ott, the all-time NWHL leader in wins, she has also helped the Pride climb up to second place in the standings with her outstanding play. She is second in the league in wins and quality starts and has posted a .915 save percentage on the season.
We know that only four goaltenders can go to the All-Star Game, but it still feels like a shame that Burt will not be in Nashville.
Nina Rodgers, Connecticut Whale
Stats aren’t the only way to evaluate players. Rodgers has three points in six games for the Whale this season, which is solid but it hardly jumps off the page. However, anyone who has watched her skate in person can’t help but notice the impact she has had on the Whale’s offense. Rodgers also has one of the best plus/minus ratings on the Whale with a -2. She’s definitely a player to keep an eye on.
Denisa Křížová, Boston Pride
Like Rodgers, Křížová is getting a nod here because she’s playing better hockey than her stats might indicate. Křížová has helped give the Pride their most deep and dangerous offense since the days of Alex Carpenter and Brianna Decker. She’s been magic on the wing for Boston and has picked up five points in her first seven NWHL games thanks to her quick feet and great vision.
McKenna Brand, Boston Pride
Brand looked impressive in Boston before her recent outburst of points at the expense of the Whitecaps. The rookie winger is tied for fifth in the league in assists and has scored three goals — all at even strength — in seven games. It’s still early, but she’s fast becoming a player to watch.
Data courtesy NWHL.zone, @CreaseGiants, Even-Strength.com