Any vacation plans Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau may or may not have had in mind for the NHL's All-Star weekend - from Jan. 23-25 - are now officially useless, as both players have been selected to partake in the weekend. Giordano is one of 12 defencemen who will be playing the entire weekend, while Gaudreau is one of six rookies who are there for the skills competition.
Giordano, the NHL's top-scoring defenceman (as he has been pretty much all season), joins a group of 37 undrafted players to make it to the All-Star Game. He currently has 10 goals and 36 points over 42 games played, all the while playing in the most difficult circumstances out of all the most-frequently played defencemen in the league, and being an incredible asset to his team to boot:
I'm sure TJ Brodie's invitation got lost in the mail, or something, but he'll probably see a few All-Star Weekends throughout his career yet.
Still, Giordano is one of the most worthy candidates. He almost singlehandedly carried the entire Flames team throughout the first half of the season, and looks poised to keep it up the rest of the way. The only current undrafted NHL captain is closing in on 500 games. Remember that he was a missed camp invite away from never playing professional hockey, and spent a year in Russia over a contract dispute. He's come a long way, so this is pretty special.
On the rookie side of things, Gaudreau is currently second in scoring, with 13 goals and 31 points over 41 points. There was initial doubt he would play the entire NHL season, but after a healthy scratching six games in he proved himself impossible to send down, scoring all 31 of his points over the 35 games since. Johnny Hockey has found himself in the Calder discussion since he really began to take off and agitate teams by being seemingly impossible to stop.
Compared to his fellow rookie participants (all of whom are rather good), Gaudreau plays in moderately difficult circumstances:
He has among the worst zone starts among the six (although being rookies, it's no surprise they're all relatively sheltered), and while he doesn't play the level of opponent Filip Forsberg does, he still faces difficult competition, and looks good doing it.
Gaudreau has something in common with Giordano: the ability to singlehandedly keep (or drag) his team (back) in a game. Such was the case when the Flames were in danger of losing their ninth straight game, this time against the Los Angeles Kings. Down 3-0, Gaudreau scored a natural hat trick in the first multi-game goal of his career to force overtime, which Giordano then won. So if you want to think Flames All-Stars, just think of that 4-3 overtime victory right before Christmas.
The All-Star Weekend consists of the draft, which is on Jan. 23, followed by the skills competition on Jan. 24 and the game itself on Jan. 25. Giordano will participate in all three events, while Gaudreau is spared from wearing one of the most hideous - sorry, "bold" - jerseys of all time, as his participation ends after the skills competition.
Let's be real, though, Johnny Gaudreau in a skills competition is going to be by far the best thing to watch.