2024 NHL All-Star Game: Favorite Line Combos, After a hilarious All-Star player draft on Thursday and an exciting night of All-Star skills on Friday, it’s time for the final event of 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend: the game(s)!
2024 NHL All-Star Game: Favorite Line Combos, Predictions
It’s a basic format: two 3-on-3 hockey semifinals, with the victors facing off in the final. Team MacKinnon will face Team McDavid at 3 p.m. ET, followed by Team Hughes vs. Team Matthews at 4 p.m. ET, and finally the championship game at 5 p.m. ET. ABC will carry all three games, with a simulcast on ESPN+.
Before the games begin, which line combinations are you most looking forward to? Which draft picks were most questionable? And who is going to win it all?
Which Lineup Three Are You Most Excited to See?
Ryan S. Clark, NHL reporter: Any Team Hughes lineup featuring Quinn Hughes, Brock Boeser, Kyle Connor, J.T. Miller, Brady Tkachuk, or Frank Vatrano. That equates to six elite American players, and any of the three who are now on the ice adds to what makes the United States appear incredibly promising in the lead-up to the 2025 4 Nations competition and the 2026 Olympics.
Victoria Matiash, NHL analyst: Combine Nikita Kucherov’s vision and playmaking ability with Kyle Connor’s knack for putting the puck in the net, as well as everything Brady Tkachuk does well when others on Team Hughes are on the bench.
Arda Cal, NHL broadcaster: Nathan MacKinnon-Sidney Crosby provides us with the Nova Scotia link, friends who celebrate each other’s Stanley Cup victories back home over the summer, and two of the greatest players in history. Kirill Kaprizov adds a human highlight reel to the mix, making for a formidable trifecta.
Kristen Shilton, NHL Reporter: I’m feeling a David Pastrnak-Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl scenario. Team McDavid appeared to be the quieter group in Thursday’s draft, but their roster is surprisingly impressive.
And given Draisaitl and Pastrnak’s history, which has never (until now) resulted in them being able to play together in a major event, I believe it would be fascinating to see.
Greg Wyshynski, NHL reporter: You must give the fans what they want. And by “people,” I mean all of the Leafs fans in the arena who want to watch their team perform at home.
Toss Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly’s names into a hat, select a trio, and watch them bring a (glorified exhibition game overtime) title to the Centre of the Hockey Universe.
What Was the Most Questionable Draft Pick?
Clark: In the fifth round, Sam Reinhart will face Team McDavid. For starters, they didn’t require additional goals. They have three players: McDavid, Draisaitl, and Pastrnak, who finished first, second, and third in points last season.
Beyond that, one may argue that Reinhart should have gone higher. A regular 20-goal scorer, he has already had his third straight 30-goal season and is on track to finish with more than 60; he now is second in the goal-scoring race with 37. We assume a shooting percentage of 27.6% helps.
Matiash: I’m not saying Tom Wilson doesn’t add his kind of panache to any lineup, in any sort of competition, but I’m also unlikely to pick the Capitals forward over Reinhart, Filip Forsberg, or Vincent Trocheck, as Team MacKinnon did Thursday evening.
Cal: Overall, I think some too many captains stick by their NHL teammates. I understand you want to play with your lads, but I would have appreciated some mix-and-matching — we didn’t even get a swap! In terms of one single selection, Alexandar Georgiev joined Team MacKinnon. I would have enjoyed the drama of him being taken by another team and then MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Tate McRae having to orchestrate a trade.
Shilton: It seemed inconceivable to me that Vincent Trocheck would finish in the bottom four. This season, he averages points per game! And, while all four teams had selected scoring talent at that point, it felt like Trocheck should have been out of the game long before Dave Keon walked out and handed him his secret package.
I’m expecting him to have a big game on Saturday just to show the other captains how they failed.
Wyshynski: I still believe that defense wins championships and that the right goaltenders can win the All-Star Game event. To the other three clubs that permitted Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to be joined by Connor Hellebuyck and Sergei Bobrovsky: What were your thoughts?
Which Team Will Win the Championship?
Clark: Let’s go with Team McKinnon. They have multiple players capable of scoring and creating for others. It also helps to have Georgiev and Jeremy Swayman as goaltenders. However, the most important element is that they have several players with two-way talent, which might provide them an advantage in late-game scenarios while trying to maintain a lead.
Matiash: Team McDavid includes the best skater in the world, arguably the best goaltender in the game in Connor Hellebuyck, a Boston winger who could be a Hart Trophy nominee, the player with the second-most goals to date, and one of the best two-way forwards in Boone Jenner (an underrated asset, in my opinion).
Oh, and Leon Draisaitl. If Team Matthews doesn’t gain too much traction from playing in front of their home audience, I like this team’s prospects.
Cal: Team Leafs… oops, Matthews got the job done in front of the home crowd at the draft Thursday, and I believe the good sentiments will continue Saturday. With the clubs as they are, we could expect the most booing we’ve ever heard at an All-Star Game. In the first round, Team Matthews will face Team Hughes, while the Leafs will face the Canucks. Team Hughes will undoubtedly play the heel in Toronto for that one.