NHL All-Star Game rosters dominated by 18 first-timers

The NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 5 will be a celebration of the next generation after 18 of the 36 players named to represent their respective divisions by the league’s hockey operations department were chosen for the showcase contest for the first time.

The midseason game at Las Vegas still will have its fair share of star power among the four captains selected by fan vote. Selected to head their squads were the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan Division), the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews (Atlantic), the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon (Central) and the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (Pacific).

Players not selected All Stars included the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand, the Maple Leafs’ Williams Nylander, the Nashville Predators’ Matt Duchene, the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin and the St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko.

NHL All-Star captains and first-timers

Ovechkin, who is tied for second in the NHL with 24 goals, was named to the All-Star Game for the 12th time. McDavid, who is tied for the NHL points lead with teammate Leon Draisaitl, was named for the fifth time. Matthews and MacKinnon will participate for the fourth time each.

“Obviously, it’s a privilege,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter if you are voted by the fans or the league selects you. It’s a privilege. It’s representing your team, yourself and, obviously, have fun with the best players out there on the ice. It’s a pretty cool moment.”

nhl all stars
Mar 9, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) skates with the puck between Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (74) and Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) in overtime at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

First-time participants on the Metropolitan roster: forward Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and defensemen Adam Fox of the New York Rangers and Adam Pelech of the New York Islanders.

First-timers on the Atlantic squad: forwards Drake Batherson of the Ottawa Senators and Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres and goalie Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It means a lot to be recognized and get the support from the fans, obviously Leafs Nation,” Matthews told ESPN. “I’m really looking forward to Vegas.”

First-timers on the Central team: forwards Kyle Connor of the Winnipeg Jets, Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks, Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild and Jordan Kyrou of the St. Louis Blues, along with defenseman Cale Makar of the Avalanche and goalies Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators and Cam Talbot of the Wild.

First-timers on the Pacific roster: forwards Adrian Kempe of the Los Angeles Kings, Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks and Mark Stone of the Golden Knights, along with goalie Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks.

All-Star Coaches

Head coaches already named for the 3-on-3 tournament were the Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour (Metropolitan), the Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette (Atlantic), the Colorado Avalanche’s Jared Bednar (Central) and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Peter DeBoer (Pacific).

One more roster spot for each of the four teams will be decided by fan vote through Monday.

The NHL is putting on its All-Star Weekend for the first time since 2019-20 season. Last season’s event did not take place because of the condensed schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–Field Level Media