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11 first-time selections for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game

eAwaz Sports News

Ottawa -Igor Shesterkin, Jason Robertson and Matty Beniers were among 11 first-time selections for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game at FLA LIVE Arena in Sunrise, Florida, on Feb. 4 (3 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Shesterkin, a goalie (New York Rangers), and forwards Robertson (Dallas Stars) and Beniers (Seattle Kraken) were among 32 players selected by the NHL hockey operations department on Thursday to represent their respective divisions. One player was selected from each of the 32 NHL teams.

“The All-Star Game is pretty special, so I’m excited for that,” Beniers said. “(Kraken general manager) Ron Francis and (coach) Dave Hakstol pulled me aside probably like a week ago and told me, so that was pretty cool. It was tough to keep it quiet though, it really was.”

Goalies Linus Ullmark (Boston Bruins) and Logan Thompson (Vegas Golden Knights) were also chosen for the first time, as were forwards Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina Hurricanes), Kevin Hayes (Philadelphia Flyers), Brock Nelson (New York Islanders), Tage Thompson (Buffalo Sabres) and Kevin Fiala (Los Angeles Kings), and defenseman Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets).

“It’s something you dream of growing up, being selected to that,” Thompson said. “To hear my name for that is a rewarding feeling.

“Yeah, it’s been a tough journey, tough road, and I’ve definitely faced a lot of adversity along the way. So I think it just makes you grateful for where you’re at in your career now. It makes you not want to take things like this for granted. So just something I’m going to be able to enjoy, something that I’ve worked for, so it’s going to be a rewarding feeling.”

Hayes, whose brother, Jimmy, died at age 31 on Aug. 24, 2021, said the All-Star nod is extra special to him.

“It’s a cool situation for me because, not to get emotional, it’s probably the only thing my brother, since he stopped playing hockey, wanted me to accomplish,” Hayes said. “I never honestly thought it would happen, but it did.”

Forward Matthew Tkachuk will represent the hometown Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. It will be the second All-Star Game for Tkachuk, who played in 2020 as a member of the Calgary Flames. His brother, Brady Tkachuk, will represent the Ottawa Senators, and the two will be NHL All-Star Game teammates for the first time.

Under the new voting format, the 12 remaining players (two skaters, one goalie per division) will be selected through the 2023 Honda All-Star Fan Vote presented by Guaranteed Rate, which will begin at 9 p.m. Thursday and run through Jan. 17 at midnight ET. In previous seasons, fan-elected captains were voted before hockey operations chose the remaining rosters (not limited to one player per team) and fans chose a final player (Last Men In) for each team.

For the first time, the fan vote will feature a Twitter Vote, which begins Jan. 12 at 12:01 a.m. ET and ends Jan. 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Each fan tweet must include the complete hashtag “#NHLAllStarVote” followed by a player’s full name or a player’s Twitter handle. Only referencing a last name will not count. All Twitter votes will be combined with online vote totals.

The three remaining players per team will be announced Jan. 19.

Colorado Avalanche defensman Cale Makar said his teammate, forward Mikko Rantanen, should be an All-Star.

“Obviously very honored. I’d think that at least a couple more guys from our team should be there as well,” Makar said. “I don’t know if I should have been the first pick. Obviously Mikko has been carrying us the whole year, but it is what it is.”

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin will be playing his eighth All-Star Game, the most among active NHL players. San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Johnny Gaudreau will each be playing his seventh. Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid was selected for the sixth straight time.

“It’s a fun weekend,” Gaudreau said. “I’ve done it a few times now. When I get an opportunity to go, I try to make the most of it and try to get all my family there and spend as much time with them as I can.”

The All-Star Game will feature a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format and showcasing teams from each NHL division. Each of the four teams will include nine skaters and two goalies.

Rod Brind’Amour of the Hurricanes (Metropolitan), Jim Montgomery of the Bruins (Atlantic), Peter DeBoer of the Stars (Central) and Bruce Cassidy of the Golden Knights (Pacific) were selected as coaches, as their teams will have the best points percentage in their respective divisions through games of Jan. 11, when the NHL hits the official midpoint of the season.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings will take place Feb. 3 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS).

“It’s cool,” Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner said. “A couple things you dream of as a kid playing in this league, winning that Stanley Cup, and trying to get to that All-Star Game. So, it’s a cool accomplishment, it wouldn’t have happened without a lot of these guys in this room, really everyone in this room. It’s not a one-man thing out there; it’s all five guys constantly.

“I’ve got thank my teammates for helping me out getting that. It’s a cool accomplishment, but I’m trying to focus on the here and now and when that comes, I’ll enjoy it with my family.”

Flames forward Nazem Kadri said he was honored to be selected, and is looking forward to going to Florida for the game.

“It’s flattering, really. Obviously, to be acknowledged as an NHL All-Star is something you can keep on your resume. Just very privileged and humbled by the nod,” Kadri said. “I’m not the only guy out there. I have lots of help and I’m playing with some great players. That always helps contributing to things like these.

“Very excited to represent the team and head to the All-Star Game. It’s in Florida, so that’s not a bad touch.”

Here are the rosters:

Metropolitan Division (All-Star appearances)

Sidney Crosby, PIT (5th)
F Johnny Gaudreau, CBJ (7th)
F Kevin Hayes, PHI (1st)
Jack Hughes, NJD (2nd)
F Brock Nelson, NYI (1st)
F Alex Ovechkin, WSH (8th)
F Andrei Svechnikov, CAR (1st)
Igor Shesterkin, NYR (1st)

Atlantic Division (All-Star appearances)

Nikita Kucherov, TBL (4th)
Dylan Larkin, DET (3rd)
Mitchell Marner, TOR (2nd)
Nick Suzuki, MTL (2nd)
F Tage Thompson, BUF (1st)
F Brady Tkachuk, OTT (3rd)
F Matthew Tkachuk, FLA (2nd)
G Linus Ullmark, BOS (1st)

Central Division (All-Star appearances)

Kirill Kaprizov, MIN (2nd)
Clayton Keller, ARI (3rd)
Jason Robertson, DAL (1st)
Vladimir Tarasenko, STL (4th)
Seth Jones, CHI (4th)
Cale Makar, COL (2nd)
D Josh Morrissey, WPG (1st)
Juuse Saros, NSH (2nd)

Pacific Division (All-Star appearances)

Matty Beniers, SEA (1st)
F Kevin Fiala, LAK (1st)
Nazem Kadri, CGY (2nd)
F Connor McDavid, EDM (6th)
Elias Pettersson, VAN (3rd)
Troy Terry, ANA (2nd)
D Erik Karlsson, SJS (7th)
G Logan Thompson, VGK (1st) independent corrrespondents Dave McCarthy, Craig Merz, Kevin Woodley, Heather Engel, Aaron Vickers and Alan Robinson contributed to this report