Jamie Benn

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Stars’ Klingberg is building serious Norris argument

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From Nicklas Lidstrom to Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman, NHL fans are used to Swedish defensemen being involved in Norris Trophy talks, and often winning the award outright. It’s about time that we add another name to the conversation: John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars.

Some might roll their eyes when points come up in the Norris discussion, but how could they not, especially in Klingberg’s case?

After collecting three assists in the Stars’ 7-1 Saturday squash of the Sabres, Klingberg now has a whopping 46 points in just 48 games. As of this writing, Klingberg leads all defensemen by 10 points. If he maintains that margin for the remainder of the 2017-18 season, it will be tough to deny Klingberg the first Norris Trophy in Stars history.

Klingberg’s 46 points tie him with Jamie Benn for the team points lead, and place him in a multi-player tie for 18th overall in the NHL.

About two weeks ago, Jamie Benn told the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika that Klingberg deserves consideration.

“One hundred percent,” Benn said. “He’s such a dynamic player, and a leader on this team. And I think this year he’s taking his game to another level, and it’s showing out there on the ice.”

It’s not just about the scoring. Klingberg is getting the ice time you’d expect from a Norris hopeful, with an average of 23:33 per game. While that isn’t in the Drew Doughty range, it shows that the slick Swede is a go-to guy for the Stars (he easily leads Dallas in ice time).

His all-around game is impressive. You can see strong possession stats at a glance at Hockey Reference, and with just 14 penalty minutes so far, he’s not hurting his team with bad discipline. While he’s not a primary penalty killer for Dallas, there’s some trust in that area, as he’s averaging 1:18 PK time per contest.

Maybe you’d lean more toward Doughty, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban, or Karlsson – it’s a dynamic and deep field this year – but Klingberg deserves consideration, and he’s already drawing favorable comparisons to beloved Stars blueliner Sergei Zubov (without the in-game smoking breaks, one would assume).

You could argue that Klingberg has been one of the greatest beneficiaries to Ken Hitchcock’s return to Dallas.

Not that long ago, Klingberg was suffering through healthy scratches as the Stars experienced a wildly disappointing 2016-17 season. Now he’s easily on pace to surpass his career-high of 58 points, and Klingberg might just collect some hardware in the process.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL reveals 2018 All-Star Game rosters; who missed out?

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The NHL revealed on Wednesday the full rosters for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which will take place Jan. 27-28 at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

It will be the second time the city has hosted the event and first time under the 3-on-3 tournament format. Last week, the league announced the four division captains who will represent the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific Divisions and be in charge of filling out the participants in the Skills Competition.

[Pass or Fail: 2018 NHL All-Star Game jerseys]

Here’s who will will be joining Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid in sunny Tampa, Florida. Keep in mind that you can be sure there will be some injury replacements between now and All-Star Weekend.

ATLANTIC DIVISION
Head coach: Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (C)
F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
F Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

• You knew this team was going to be stacked with some host city boys, and four Lightning players plus the head coach will dominate the love of the Amalie Arena crowd. There’s also a 100 percent chance that Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman and Vasilevskiy will start the first semifinal.

Potential injury replacements: Patrice Bergeron, Mark Stone, Morgan Rielly, Mikhail Sergachev, Charlie McAvoy, Frederik Andersen, Tuukka Rask

METROPOLITAN DIVISION
Head coach: Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals
F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (C)
F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
D Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
G Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

• So much for Crosby saying he’s not having an All-Star season. Should he end up going, it will be only the Penguins captain’s third appearance in the event. Good to see the Islanders finally having someone for Tavares to tag along with during All-Star Weekend.

Potential injury replacements: Anders Lee, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Phil Kessel, John Carlson, Shayne Gostisbehere, Sergei Bobrovsky, Cory Schneider

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CENTRAL DIVISION
Head coach: Peter Laviolette, Nashville Predators
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
F Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
F Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators (C)
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
D John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

• Great to see Schenn rep the Blues with the season he’s having. Also great to see Staal in an All-Star Game for the first time since 2011 when he captained Team Staal in Carolina.

Potential injury replacements: Vladimir Tarasenko,  Jamie Benn, Patrik Laine, Ryan Suter, Roman Josi, Ben Bishop, Corey Crawford (if healthy by then)

PACIFC DIVISION
Head coach: Gerard Gallant, Vegas Golden Knights
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (C)
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
F James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights
F Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights

• Really surprised by the two Vegas picks. Only Boeser has has many goals among Pacific Division players as William Karlsson (22). Then you have Jonathan Marchessault, who’s tied for fourth-best in the division with Boeser in points (40).

Potential injury replacements: Marchessault, Karlsson, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano, Jake MuzzinMike Smith, John Gibson

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy

NHL All-Star Game: PHT picks the rosters

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The 2018 NHL All-Star rosters will be revealed on Wednesday. Last week, the league announced that Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid will captain their respective divisions during the 3-on-3 tournament later this month at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

While we wait and see who will be enjoying a sunny, warm weekend in late January, we here at PHT have picked our own All-Star rosters. Keep in mind, of course, that the NHL likes to have every team represented, so there are going to be some pretty decent snubs on these rosters while picking six forwards, three defensemen and two goalie for every division.

SEAN LEAHY

ATLANTIC
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Toughest snubs: David Pastrnak, Frederik Andersen

METROPOLITAN
F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
F Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F Anders Lee, New York Islanders
D Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
D Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

Toughest snubs: Josh Bailey, Sean Couturier

CENTRAL
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
F Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
F Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
D John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
G Connor Hellebuyuck, Winnipeg Jets
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Toughest snubs: Jamie Benn, Roman Josi

PACIFIC
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
F Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
F Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
F William Karlsson, Vegas Golden Knights
D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

Toughest snubs: Dustin Brown, Clayton Keller

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JAMES O’BRIEN

ATLANTIC
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
F Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
F Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Toughest snubs: Patrice Bergeron, Mark Stone, Charlie McAvoy, Morgan Rielly, Tuukka Rask, Frederik Andersen

METROPOLITAN
F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
F Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Toughest snubs: Sidney Crosby, Jakub Voracek, Jaccob Slavin, Zach Werenski, Braden Holtby, Cory Schneider

CENTRAL
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
F Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
F Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
D John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
G Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

Toughest snubs: Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Tyson Barrie, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne

PACIFIC
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
F Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
F Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

Toughest snubs: William Karlsson, Sean Monahan, Jake Muzzin, Mike Smith

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SCOTT BILLECK

ATLANTIC
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
F Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
D Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Toughest snubs: Brad Marchand, Mark Stone, Charlie McAvoy, Morgan Rielly

METROPOLITAN
F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Toughest snubs: Phil Kessel, Josh Bailey, Jaccob Slavin, Zach Werenski, Braden Holtby, Cory Schneider

CENTRAL
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
F Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
F Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
D John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
G Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

Toughest snubs: Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Laine, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne

PACIFIC
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
F Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks
F Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights

Toughest snubs: Clayton Keller, William Karlsson, Josh Manson, Mike Smith, John Gibson

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JOEY ALFIERI

ATLANTIC
F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
F Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Toughest snubs: Mark Stone, Evander Kane, Jonathan Huberdeau, David Pastrnak, Morgan Rielly

METROPOLITAN
F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

Toughest snubs: Jakub Voracek, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Braden Holtby

CENTRAL
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
D John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
G Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
G Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets

Toughest snubs: Vladimir Tarasenko, Mikko Rantanen, Jamie Benn, Pekka Rinne

PACIFIC
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
F Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
F Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
F Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
F Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
D Drew Droughty, Los Angeles Kings
D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
G Mike Smith, Calgary Flames

Toughest snubs: Sean Monahan, William Karlsson, Jake Muzzin

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ADAM GRETZ

ATLANTIC
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
F Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators
F Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
D Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lighting
G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Toughest snubs: Patrice Bergeron, Jack Eichel

METROPOLITAN
F Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
F Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
G Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Toughest snubs: Jakub Voracek, Sidney Crosby

CENTRAL
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
F Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
D John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
D Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
G Connor Hellebucyk, Winnipeg Jets
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

Toughest snubs: Jamie Benn, Patrik Laine

PACIFIC
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F Johnny Gaudreau, Clgary Flames
F Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
F Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
F Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angles Kings
G John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

Toughest snubs: William Karlsson, Logan Couture

New Year in fantasy hockey: West edition

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So, the year is still pretty new. Let’s celebrate 2018 by considering every NHL team, whether it be asking burning questions, pondering make-or-break situations, and pointing out interesting tidbits.

This week, we’ll roll with the Western Conference, because they win the epic battle of alphabetical order and to reduce risks of people complaining about “East Coast Bias.” Next we’ll we go with the East.

Anaheim: What is this team?

Honestly, it’s easy to forget that Ryan Kesler is finally back. The pugnacious pivot is at five games played now, with his first goal coming last night against Edmonton. Between Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf, and plenty of others being hurt, injuries leave the Ducks’ with an “Incomplete” on their mid-term report card.

The good and bad news is that there’s some uncertainty with this team. Maybe you can take advantage of that?

Arizona: Antti Raanta could be a wild card.

Quietly, Raanta has actually been OK this season, sporting a .915 save percentage, in range of his .916 career average. Raanta stopped 37 out of 39 shots to help the Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 in OT last night.

Wins should be tough to come by, but Raanta may be worth a look if you’re desperate for goaltending. With his next contract on the line, motivation won’t be in short order.

Calgary: Can Mike Smith keep this up? At 35, he’s carrying a big workload, and the Flames traded away a possible insurance policy – albeit a flimsy one – in Eddie Lack. Even if Calgary has some other goalies with future potential, is anyone ready if he hits a wall?

Chicago Jonathan Toews could be starting a hot streak with two straight two-point games after a six-game drought. Consider last season, when he scored more points after the All-Star break (30 points in as many games) than he did before it (28 points in 42 games).

Colorado: Will Nathan MacKinnon continue to rise among the NHL’s best, as he’s been doing – delightfully – so far? More on that here.

Dallas: John Klingberg already has 36 points in 42 games, leading NHL defensemen by five points. You don’t hear a ton about the 25-year-old blueliner thanks to Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but he ranks as one of the great fantasy steals of this season.

Edmonton: Oilers in need of new contracts are the most intriguing, and recently suspended winger Patrick Maroon has quite a bit to lose if this team decides to sell, especially if Edmonton does so soon.

Beyond Maroon, interesting situations to watch include Darnell Nurse and Ryan Strome. Other guys, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, could also be up for grabs. It’s a mess, but it’s a mess worth monitoring.

Los Angeles: Is this Marian Gaborik resurgence real? Maybe it’s as real as Dustin Brown‘s rebound?

The often-injured scorer has 13 points in 18 games this season, with an active three-game point streak (two goals, two assists). Gaborik scored 21 points in 56 games in 2016-17 and 22 in 54 in 2015-16, so this would be quite the turnaround if this isn’t a fluke. Some of it very well could be considering his 17.1 shooting percentage, so be warned.

Minnesota: Devan Dubnyk sure seems to be back, and the same seems to be true of the Wild. Probably not a coincidence.

Dubnyk has won six times, lost once, and stopped all 10 shots in another period of relief work where he wasn’t credited with a win or a loss.

Nashville: With Filip Forsberg out four-to-six weeks, it’s crucial to keep an eye on who will trot out with Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson. Calle Jarnkrok first drew that assignment, while Pontus Aberg got the nod on Thursday. Then again, maybe it’s not worth the work if you’re the low-maintenance type.

San Jose: Joe Thornton is tied for the Sharks’ scoring lead alongside Brent Burns with 27 points, which is remarkable.

Also remarkable: Kevin Labanc isn’t far behind with 20 points. He’s getting dangerously close to convincing me that his last name shouldn’t have an “l” in it.

St. Louis: The Blues get a lot from guys you’d expect, but the boost comes from the unexpected. Brayden Schenn still leads the Blues in scoring with 42 points while Carter Hutton has an absurd .947 save percentage starting 11 games and appearing in 14.

Vancouver: This is a bad time to invest in the Canucks.

They start a seven-game road trip on Saturday, and during that time, they deal with two back-to-back sets. This team’s been way more competitive than expected, but it’s likely to be a tough January.

Vegas: William Karlsson, as an RFA, has a lot of incentive to keep his strong work going. So do a lot of Golden Knights, who also face a tough schedule in the near future. Karlsson stands out as a risk for regression, with an unsustainable 26.3 shooting percentage.

Winnipeg: Mark Scheifele‘s last game before that unfortunate injury came on Dec. 27. Since then, Blake Wheeler hasn’t really missed a beat as the new center of the top line, generating four goals and one assist in three games.

Reminder: the guy is a star.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fight: Joe Thornton’s beard biggest loser vs. Nazem Kadri

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Joe Thornton doesn’t rack up penalty minutes like he once did with the Bruins, but “Jumbo Joe” isn’t shy about fighting, particularly against some of the NHL’s more abrasive young players.

Earlier this season, he didn’t really have much of a choice; after a questionable hit on Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, Tom Wilson made Thornton pay the price, much to the chagrin of San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer.

His latest fight was far more, well, voluntary. After both players were kicked out of the opening faceoff circle, Thornton briefly dropped the gloves with Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Apparently Joe Thornton lost some of his luminous beard in the scuffle, and Aaron Dell … got his glove on it? Made the glove save? This is weird-great in the utmost hockey way.

The keepsake has since been preserved in the Sharks’ locker room in case some museum out there wants this artifact:

“I thought I was a hockey player, not a barber,” Kadri said afterward. “I had no idea how I ended up with beard . . . I felt I pulled him in the middle of his jersey, and I came down with a hand full of hair.”

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.