Making a case for 3 more NY Islanders to be named to the NHL All-Star Game

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders
Washington Capitals v New York Islanders / Rich Graessle/GettyImages
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The NHL revealed the first 32 players named to his year's NHL All-Star game in Toronto, with Mathew Barzal as the representative for the NY Islanders. The announcement came as a bit of a shock as many expected that Noah Dobson would get the nod after his breakout season. 

This isn’t to say Barzal isn’t deserving of the accolade, as he’s leading the Isles in points with 39, having his best season since his Calder Trophy-winning rookie campaign.

The fans will decide the final eight skaters to represent the Eastern Conference, with voting open on X,, and the NHL App, through January 11. Aside from Dobson, there are cases to be made for Bo Horvat and Brock Nelson to join the festivities north of the border. Here are arguments for each:

Noah Dobson

The 23-year-old native of Prince Edward Island is having a breakout year in his fifth NHL season. Through 37 games, Dobson has recorded 36 points (6 goals, 30 assists) with a +16 rating. His offensive production is right up there with some of the league's top offensive-minded defensemen, trailing only Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, and Victor Herman in points. 

It’s been decades since the Islanders had a defenseman who could run the offense from the point, and it appears they have found their guy for the distant future. Putting up some ridiculous numbers in the assist column, Dobson is the first Islanders defenseman to reach 30 assists in 37 games since Denis Potvin did so multiple times throughout the 70s and 80s.

Dobson's development over the first three months of the season has allowed Lane Lambert to deploy the defenseman in every situation. With his growth and injuries to the Islanders' blue liners, Dobson has been called on more than nearly any other defenseman in the league. Averaging 25:53 of ice time per game, he trails Drew Doughty by only three seconds for the league lead. 

Bo Horvat 

Since joining the Islanders at the trade deadline last season, Horvat has brought a new dimension to the organization that’s been missing since the departure of John Tavares

Forming what has become one of the top duos in the league with Barzal, Horvat is on pace to have the most productive season in his 10-year NHL career. The chemistry between the two has them at the top of the Islanders' points leaderboard, both on pace to finish over a point per game. 

With the injury to Barzal last season, it took a bit of time for Horvat to begin clicking this season but picked up the pace significantly. Through his first 18 games this season, Horvat had a modest 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists), with a shooting percentage of just 8.5%. In the subsequent nine games, Horvat’s production has skyrocketed, totaling 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists), converting on 22.4% of his opportunities. 

Dobson may have the upper hand on Horvat to be named in a fan vote due to the need for defensemen for the Eastern Conference, but it doesn’t mean his season should be looked at in any less of a light.

Brock Nelson

The leading goal scorer for the Islanders this season and every season since 2019-20, Nelson has been Mr. Consistent and has been aging like a fine wine.

A career-high 37 goals in 2021-22, followed up by 36 last season, Nelson is on pace for 37 again this season, which would give him a team-high for a fifth consecutive season.

At 32 years old, Nelson appears to be at the peak of his career. With one year remaining of his contract at $6M, he can be considered one of the best bang-for-your-buck deals in the NHL, especially with the cap to increase $4.2M next season.

Nelson was named to the All-Star Game last season along with Ilya Sorokin and Horvat, though Horvat represented the Pacific Division as he was traded before actually appearing in a game with the Isles. Nelson was named the league's most accurate shooter, Defeating Nazem Kadri in the finals by hitting all four targets in 12.419 seconds.