Welcome to the second part of Hockey Controversial’s look at the top NHL players of the last decade of hockey. Previously I named the First Team All-Stars of the 2010s decade. That group consisted of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chára, Duncan Keith, and Carey Price. Today I’ll name the league’s Second Team All-Stars, to be followed in a few days’ time by an instalment wherein I’ll fill out the remainder of a full team All-Star roster consisting of 13 forwards, seven defencemen, and three goaltenders.
As a brief refresher, the criteria for selection to the 2010s All-Star Team includes everything a player has done on the ice over the past decade, beginning the minute the 2010s started. It also includes all of a player’s accomplishments in hockey—everything from major junior to pro to international play. Note that players having burst onto the scene as major stars in just the past couple of seasons are at a serious disadvantage when compared to players that have been stars for most (or all) of the decade, but there are a handful of players whose impact in roughly half a decade of hockey makes them worthy of inclusion on the team. I’m also not averse to overloading on centres where circumstances dictate. Let’s see who the Second Team All-Stars are!
Second Team All-Stars
The Second Team All-Stars for the 2010s decade consists of forwards Connor McDavid, Jonathan Toews, and Evgeni Malkin, defencemen Drew Doughty and Shea Weber, and goaltender Marc-André Fleury.
Connor McDavid – It’s difficult to include a player on this list who is only now in his fifth full NHL season. However, when that player is Connor McDavid, the decision becomes a whole lot easier. Already, at just 22 years of age, McDavid has won two Art Ross Trophies, two Ted Lindsay Awards, one Hart Memorial Trophy, and one gold medal for Canada at the 2016 World Hockey Championships (just one year before that he won the World Junior equivalent). McDavid is also currently on pace for his fourth straight 100 point season, and he’s rapidly closing on 500 career points as well. It’s really just a matter of time until this guy does some serious damage in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unfortunately for the Edmonton Oilers, that might not be destined to happen this season, as they are now battling with a glut of other teams for a wild card position. Luckily there’s still time for the Oilers to recover and make the playoffs, but I don’t honestly think they’ve quite got the lineup in place just yet to really make much impact even if they do make the cut. But, as I said before, McDavid is only 22, so there’s still plenty of time for the Oilers to figure things out.
Jonathan Toews – Universally recognized as one of the best leaders in the game today, Toews’ resume is not unlike Sidney Crosby’s in a number of key areas. He too has three total Stanley Cups to his credit (all as team captain), two Olympic gold medals, one World Championships gold, a World Cup championship, a Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award. Unlike Crosby, however, Towes also has a Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward—no small accomplishment! While Toews’ individual numbers are not quite as impressive as Crosby’s, he still has well over 300 NHL goals and a very impressive playoff resume (40 goals and 110 points in 128 games played). Though the past couple of seasons have been difficult for Toews’ Chicago Blackhawks, he’s still done more than enough to crack the forward line as one of the decade’s Second Team All-Stars.
Evgeni Malkin – Evgeni Malkin is, in my view, the best Russian born player to ever grace the NHL with his presence. Had his Conn Smythe Trophy performance not fallen just outside of the last decade (2009), his name (rather than Ovechkin’s) would be listed among the decade’s First Team All-Stars. As it is, Malkin has more Stanley Cups than Ovechkin (three overall), scores more points per game than Ovechkin (1.18 versus 1.11 at the time of this writing), and arguably even has a better international record than Ovechkin (both in terms of individual scoring and overall team success). For instance, Malkin’s individual numbers at the men’s international level are 39 goals and 86 points in 83 games played (Ovechkin has less points and only marginally more goals in considerably more games played), and when Malkin plays in the World Championships, Russia almost always wins a medal of some colour (7/8 = .875), while Ovechkin brings home a medal at a much lower rate (9/13 = .692). Of course, all of this overlooks the fact that Malkin has also collected his share of NHL hardware over the years, including two Art Ross Trophies (one this past decade), one Ted Lindsay Award, one Hart Trophy, and one Calder Trophy (aside from the aforementioned Conn Smythe Trophy and 3 Stanley Cups). But whether or not you rate him up there with Ovechkin, Malkin certainly deserves to be listed among this past decade’s best.
Drew Doughty – Not only is Drew Doughty an absolute monster when it comes to eating up ice time, but he’s also the kind of defenceman who, had the Los Angeles Kings not fallen on hard times over the past couple of seasons, may well have made the decade’s First Team All-Star selections. With just a little bit of luck—such as maybe one more deep playoff run, or a second Norris Trophy (he secured his first such honour at the end of the 2015-16 season), he would have had a very solid case for that list. But, as it is, I guess he’ll just have to settle for being a two time Stanley Cup and Olympic champion, a World Cup champion in 2016, and a pre-2010s World Junior Championships gold medalist and World Championships silver medalist representing Canada. At just age 30, Doughty may still have another full decade of greatness ahead of him if the Kings can manage to turn things around relatively soon. But even if they don’t, Doughty’s previous decade is already more than enough to make him a Hall of Fame defenceman at the end of his career.
Shea Weber – Shea Weber is probably the best defenceman of the past decade not to have won a Norris Trophy thus far in his career. This, however, is through no fault of his own. Though Weber has been a finalist on multiple occasions, the members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association seem to prefer flash over substance when it comes to Norris voting, and thus they mistakenly keep giving the trophy to glorified forwards like Erik Karlsson. Meanwhile, Weber keeps on playing high level defence while also showing excellent leadership qualities. This has led to one Mark Messier Leadership Award for Weber, but the remainder of his accolades come merely from winning—everything from his two Olympic gold medals to his World Cup in 2016. Before the decade started, Weber was already a winner with one World Championships gold and one silver medal, as well as one World Junior Championships gold. It’s just too bad that most of his NHL career has been spent toiling for poorly managed clubs like the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens, otherwise Weber would likely have a Stanley Cup or two to go along with his other team hardware. Even so, as Weber approaches his 1000th game in the NHL (which, barring injury, will take place this season), he’s still a threat to beat you—or beat you up, on any given night. And for goodness sake, don’t try to block his slapshot!
Marc-André Fleury – Choosing between Marc-André Fleury, Jonathan Quick, and Henrik Lundqvist (lack of a Stanley Cup or any best-on-best championships significantly hurt him) as Second Team All-Star goaltender for the 2010s decade was not an easy decision. While Lundqvist was consistently solid for most of the decade and Quick had a great first half to his (with Stanley Cups in both 2012 and 2014), I ultimately had to go with Fleury due to his combination of both Cups and consistency. And not only that, but Fleury had great playoff performances with two different teams, winning two of his three career Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the middle part of the decade (2016 and 2017) and then going on to backstop the Vegas Golden Knights to a Cup Finals appearance in their very first year of existence (2018). Add to that his 300+ regular season (and 47 playoff) wins this decade, his four All-Star appearances (two each with both the Penguins and Golden Knights—not counting his selection to this season’s game that will be played outside of the decade), and his 2010 Olympic gold medal with Canada (albeit in a backup role to Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur), and Fleury has had a very solid decade indeed! In fact, he made the playoffs in each season of the decade (regardless of which team he was playing on), and that is a very rare feat in today’s NHL! Although it was a fairly close decision, Fleury got the nod due to his combination of Cups and overall consistency.
And those are my Second Team All-Star selections from the past decade of hockey. Do you agree, disagree, or fall somewhere in the middle? Have your say by letting me know in the comments section below, and stay tuned for the remainder of the full 23 man All-Star roster coming up soon on Hockey Controversial.