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My All-Star Ballot: Eastern Conference Forwards

by Photo of Andrew Wallach

Which Eastern Conference forwards are most deserving of a spot in the 2015 All Star Game?

My All-Star Ballot: Eastern Conference Forwards

With the 2015 NHL All Star Game a month away and the league just getting off hiatus for Christmas break, I think it's a good time to look at this year's prospective all-stars. There will be 21 players selected from each conference: 12 forwards, six defensemen, and three goalies. I will do a six-part series, analyzing each group in both conferences. Remember, this is not a definitive list of who will make the all-star team, just my ballot for all it's worth.

Note: Statistics are through the games played Tuesday, December 23rd.

Here are my Eastern Conference Forwards:

Rick Nash, New York Rangers

Nash is going into the Christmas break with a lot of momentum, thanks to his hat-trick in the Rangers' 4-2 win over division rival Washington on Tuesday. He sits second in the league with 23 goals, and if the Rangers continue their strong play(winners of seven straight), he will definitely be in the MVP conversations come spring.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

I think its safe to assume that Stamkos' leg injury from last season is behind him. He is currently fourth in the league with 19 goals and has 36 points through Tampa's first 36 games. He's back to being one of the most feared scorers in the league and has his team tied atop the Atlantic Division.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs are an inconsistent, confusing team. But Phil Kessel is anything but inconsistent. He is the fifth leading goal scorer in the league and is averaging over a point per game. Toronto has a long list of issues, but he is certainly not one of them.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Malkin has been an offensive force since he entered the league in 2006. He continues that play today, sitting third in the league in points with 41 in the Pens' first 34 games. That's a very good pace that has helped Pittsburgh maintain the best record in the Eastern Conference heading into the break.

Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

Voracek is enjoying a breakout season so far for the Flyers. He leads the NHL in both assists and points, and has come close to eclipsing his career best for points. We're not even at New Years yet. He has 46 points in 34 games for a Flyers team that will need him to continue that production as they try and claw their way into a playoff spot.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

I honestly can not stand the way that Crosby plays the game. Constantly whining and complaining and diving to draw penalties is not how the so called "face of the NHL" should carry himself on the ice. Alas, the production is there. He's dished out the fourth most assists and remains in the top ten in scoring despite missing time due to the mumps. He will be in the All-Star game.

Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets

Foligno has been one of the few constants in a Blue Jacket lineup that has been ravaged by injuries all season. With 16 goals, he is only three away from setting a new career high. His 30 points are tied for the team lead and have helped the Blue Jackets regain some momentum, winning eight of their last ten games going into the break. Foligno should make his All-Star game debut on his home ice in Columbus.

Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

He recorded 50 points in his rookie campaign last year, so it shouldn't come as too big a surprise that Johnson continues to produce in his second season in the league. His hat-trick on Tuesday against Pittsburgh vaulted him into the top ten in league scoring. Johnson has been a key cog in the offensive juggernaut that is the Lightning, posting an impressive plus/minus of +23, good for second best in the NHL. Enjoy your first All-Star appearance, Tyler. You've earned it.

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

You know you're really good when being tied for sixth in the league in goals is considered underachieving. That is the situation for the Capitals' captain, who heads into the break with 16 goals and 28 points. He remains one of the most feared scorers with the puck on his stick, and is a highlight play waiting to happen in the open ice.

John Tavares, New York Islanders

Tavares has had a slow start to this season coming off of his knee injury during the Sochi Olympics in February. Still, he leads the Isles with 29 points and has been the catalyst for possibly the most surprising team in the NHL. He would have been an All-Star going away last season if not for the Olympics, and he is a superstar when at the top of his game. He gets the nod over emerging teammate Brock Nelson.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Giroux is an enigma. In the same game he can look like a top-five player in the league, and then disappear for large stretches. Either way, his ability to rack up the points shouldn't be questioned. He's second in the league in assists behind Voracek, and tied for third in points. Definitely All-Star caliber numbers for the Flyers captain.

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

Despite missing games due to injury, Datsyuk remains one of the most skilled players in the game. He has only played 24 games to this point, but is still averaging more than a point per game. He sits second on the team with 13 goals and 25 points and has Detroit in playoff position going into the break.

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