How often is an NHL 40 goal scorer left off the next season’s All-Star ballot?

Posted on November 16, 2010

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Alexander Semin during warmups of Game 2 of th...

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You can’t really say that Alexander Semin’s recent scoring surge for the Washington Capitals came too late for him to make this season’s NHL All-Star ballot.

You could, but even if the league drafted the ballot at the end of October, one month into the 2010-11 season, Semin had 6 goals and 5 assists through 11 games at that point—a pretty nice start.

More importantly, Semin was a 40 goal scorer last season, good enough for 7th best in the league. He also racked up 44 assists, finished 13th in the NHL in points and was +36 to tie for 5th best in +/-, while playing on what has become one of the most high profile teams in the league.

And last season was no fluke. Over the last four seasons, Semin has averaged 34.5 goals and 35 assists. Due to injuries, he’s done that while playing only 68.75 games on average during those four years.

So, as I was seeking to put the omission of Semin into further perspective, I found myself thinking, when was the last time a 40 goal scorer one season did not make the All-Star ballot the next?

Looking at last season, there were seven players in the league who scored 40 goals: Sidney Crosby (51 goals), Steven Stamkos (51), Alex Ovechkin (50), Patrick Marleau (44), Martin Gaborik (42), Ilya Kovalchuk (41), and Semin (40). All but Semin are on this season’s All-Star ballot.

As Peerless points out, “Of the top 15 goals scorers among forwards from last season, two are not on the ballot. One is Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows, who missed the first ten games of the season with a shoulder injury and is 1-1-5, plus-3 in five games so far.” Semin is the other.

There was no All-Star Game during the 2009-10 season due to the Olympics.

Looking at 2008-09′s All-Star ballot, there had been 10 players who scored 40 goals the season before. They were Ovechkin (65 goals), Kovalchuk (52), Jarome Iginla (50), Evgeni Malkin (47), Henrik Zetterberg (43), Brad Boyes (43), Gaborik (42), Dany Heatley (41), Vincent Lacavalier (40) and Daniel Alfredsson (40). Every single one of those 40 goal scorers from 2007-08 made the All-Star ballot for the 2008-09 game.

There was also another guy on that 2008-09 All-Star ballot worth noting: Alexander Semin. He was coming off a 2007-08 year when he’d scored 26 goals and recorded 16 assists in 63 games, with a +/- of minus 18.

Injuries kept Semin from playing more games that year, but if you project those numbers out over 73 games (the amount he played last season), you get 30 goals (that would have landed him at 28th in the league) and 19 assists (which would have put him at 223rd in the league). Those numbers would have seen him finish 107th in total points.

Semin followed that up by coming out of the gates fast in the 2008-09 season, scoring 8 goals and tallying 8 assists in just 9 games during October, right before the All-Star ballot was released in November.

It’s hard to believe that a 2007-08 season of good but not incredible numbers, plus an October 2008 red hot streak, were enough to propel Semin onto the ’08-’09 ballot yet, this year, averaging a still-impressive point per game in October and coming off a 2009-10 season in which he posted 40 goals and 44 assists, he’s somehow fallen short in the eyes of the ballot creators.

There are other factors that could be considered—such as who else was All-Star worthy versus the number of ballot slots available—but the omission of any 40 goal scorer from the ballot, regardless of competition, leaves me dumbstruck, without even wading into any of these other parts of the debate.

Ten people, give or take a few, score 40 goals a year these days in the NHL. And we’re not talking about the final All-Star roster, when it gets even tougher to include all the worthy players. This is just about the ballot, which has 1oo players on it this season, 53 of them forwards. Semin wasn’t deserving of one of those 53 slots after being one of the top seven goal producers in the league last season, not to mention his other stats?

Going back one more year to the 2007-08 All Star ballot, there had been 10 players who scored 40 goals the year before: Lecavalier (52 goals), Heatley (50), Teemu Selanne (48), Ovechkin (46), Martin St. Louis (43), Marian Hossa (43), Thomas Vanek (43), Kovalchuk (42), Simon Gagne (41) and Jason Blake (40). All ten of those 40 goal scorers were on the ballot, except for Selanne who was not playing in the NHL at the time.

The 2006-07 game is the only other All-Star Game that’s been played post lockout and I’ve been unsuccessful in finding the ballot for that. 2005-06 was an Olympic year and so no All-Star Game was played. So unless it happened to someone with that 2006-07 All-Star Game, Semin is the only post lockout player (other than Selanne who was not yet signed to an NHL team) to be left off the ballot the year after scoring 40 goals.

That’s as far back as I can take this right now, due in part to it not being easy to find some of these ballots. But if anyone can point me to even older ballots, I’d love to know how far back you have to go to find the last time a 40 goal scorer was snubbed the next season in the ballot creation stage of the All-Star selection process.

And even without digging any further back, it certainly seems there is ample evidence to show hockey fans are right to question why only one Alex from Washington is on this season’s All-Star ballot. Comment or blog away if you disagree but, in my opinion, Semin was robbed.

The good news, for anyone else scratching their head about the league’s decision to omit Semin, is that you can write him in. Just scroll down to the bottom of the ballot and you’ll find the space for it there.

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