New, former Penguins selected for all-star contest
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The Associated Press
The league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning’s top performers will be on full display when the city hosts NHL All-Star Weekend later this month.
Top scorer Nikita Kucherov, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and defenseman Victor Hedman will join captain Steven Stamkos for the skills competition and 3-on-3 tournament Jan. 27 and 28 in Tampa, Florida. Kucherov has the most points in the league and Vasilevskiy the most victories in leading the Lightning to an NHL-best 65 points so far this season.
“It’s going to be a great showcase of a hockey city,” Stamkos said. “To be able to share that moment with them is going to be special, especially in front of our home fans who greatly deserve something like this. I’m sure we’ll put on a great show.”
With four players on the Atlantic Division team, Tampa Bay has the most representation for the showcase event. The Los Angeles Kings will send three players to Tampa: center Anze Kopitar, defenseman Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick. The league announced the full All-Star rosters on Wednesday as selected by the NHL’s hockey operations department.
Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang of the defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins were added to the Metropolitan Division team that also includes Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and goalie Braden Holtby. New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was selected to his fourth All-Star Weekend, and Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov will head to his first.
“Sasha has earned the right to be counted among the league’s elite,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said.
The surprise Vegas Golden Knights got two All-Stars: goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and winger James Neal, both one-time Penguins. The expansion franchise is atop the Pacific Division with the most success so far of any NHL team in its inaugural season.
“There could have been a lot of guys from this team that got to go,” Fleury said. “I wish the other guys could do this, too, and be a part of it.”
Reigning Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers is also on the Pacific Division roster along with Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau. Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne earned his third All-Star spot, all since 2015, and joins teammate P.K. Subban on the Central Division team.
The two Eastern and Western Conference teams will play each other in the semifinals of the 3-on-3 tournament with the winners facing off in the finals for $1 million.
All 31 teams must have at least one representative with the divisional teams limited to six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.