Rookies Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine were among the 40 players selected Tuesday for the NHL's 62nd midseason showcase at Staples Center. The Chicago Blackhawks led the league with four players selected for the All-Star weekend, which will be held Jan. 27-29 in Los Angeles.
The game format will again be a 3-on-3 tournament featuring a team from each of the NHL's four divisions. The players also will compete in a skills competition on Saturday, Jan. 28.
The Pacific Division won the tournament last year, but the weekend was dominated by the unlikely story of Scott. The journeyman enforcer scored two goals and was voted the MVP after an equally improbable grassroots online campaign by fans to vote him into the game as a captain — even after he was traded from Arizona to Montreal and sent to the minors.
The NHL changed its fan voting rules this season to reduce the chances of a similar situation, adding stipulations that players had to be on their team's roster on Nov. 1 and hadn't been sent to the minors before Jan. 26. The fans' eminently logical choices for captains this time around were Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Edmonton's Connor McDavid, Nashville's P.K. Subban — who has been out with an injury since Dec. 15 — and Montreal goalie Carey Price.
Although some fans were angered by the rule change, major sports leagues are searching for balance between encouraging fan participation in All-Star events and trivializing those showcases with vote manipulation and organized silliness.
Millions of fake accounts on social media could potentially warp fan vote totals for events like the NBA's upcoming All-Star showcase . Major League Baseball canceled more than 60 million ballots for the 2015 All-Star Game after an elaborate campaign to manipulate the results to favor the Kansas City Royals, among other teams.
The NHL rosters include many veteran stars, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Erik Karlsson and Chicago teammates Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford.
McDavid, the NHL's 19-year-old leading scorer with 48 points, is headed to his first All-Star Game after missing out on last season with a broken collarbone. Crosby, right behind McDavid with 44 points, incredibly hasn't played in an All-Star Game since his second NHL season in 2007, missing out on four subsequent selections due to injuries.
The coaches will be Columbus' John Tortorella, Minnesota's Bruce Boudreau, San Jose's Peter DeBoer and Montreal's Michel Therrien.
The Los Angeles Kings will be represented by forward Jeff Carter and defenseman Drew Doughty in their home rink, while the nearby Anaheim Ducks are sending center Ryan Kesler and defenseman Cam Fowler.
Among the first-time All-Stars is Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds, who began his NHL career with Los Angeles before being traded 5 1/2 years ago.
"It's kind of surreal," Simmonds said after a morning skate in Buffalo. "It makes me think when I was a young kid watching the All-Star games, and watching all the great players who played in it. To even be mentioned in the same breath as All-Stars in the NHL is pretty special, and it's a great accomplishment."
Columbus, which has roared to the top of the overall NHL standings with its recent 16-game winning streak, will send only defenseman Seth Jones and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to the All-Star Game. Forward Cam Atkinson, tied for eighth in the league with 39 points heading into Tuesday's games, was not selected.
The top two picks in last summer's draft also made the game after scoring 21 goals apiece this season. The 19-year-old Matthews is Toronto's sole representative, becoming the Maple Leafs' youngest All-Star since Wendel Clark made it 31 years ago.
The Winnipeg Jets are represented solely by Laine, the Finnish teenager with 37 points in his torrid rookie season. Laine is out indefinitely with a concussion, however.
"Patrik Laine is kind of an All-Star kind of player," Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault said. "He makes a difference. He's that threat to score at all times, which is something we didn't really have in the past here."
Although the rosters frequently change due to injury, every team currently has a player representative at the midseason extravaganza, which changed format last season to a four-team tournament of 20-minute games. Each team consists of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies.
Arizona ended up without a player at last year's game after Scott was traded to Montreal. The Coyotes will be represented this time by 34-year-old goalie Mike Smith, an All-Star for the first time in his 11-year NHL career.
"I'm just excited to play with the list of players that I am joining," Smith said. "The best players in the league in a format like that is kind of scary for a goaltender, but it'll be a lot of fun."
2 Bruins included on NHL All-Star Game roster
The Bruins will contribute two players for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, set to be hosted in Los Angeles.
The game, which will take place at the Staples Center on January 29 (3:30 p.m. ET), will include Bruins forward Brad Marchand and goaltender Tuukka Rask. The rosters were announced earlier on Tuesday, with the Bruins as one of three teams from the Atlantic Division to have multiple representatives (along with the Canadiens and Lightning).
Marchand and Rask (and all other All-Stars except the team captains) were selected by the NHL’s Hockey Operations Department. A fan vote decided the captains. For the Atlantic Division, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was picked by fans to be the team captain.
So far in the 2016-2017 season, Marchand, 28, has 35 points in 43 games. The forward has 11 goals and 22 assists. Rask has 20 wins in 32 starts with a 1.93 goals-against average.
NHL All-Star Game 2017 Rosters: Full Player List, Comments and Reaction
The NHL released the official rosters for the 2017 All-Star Game on Tuesday. The 62nd edition of the annual showcase is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
|F||Auston Matthews||Maple Leafs|
|F||Frans Nielsen||Red Wings|
|G||Carey Price (C)||Canadiens|
|F||Sidney Crosby (C)||Penguins|
|D||Seth Jones||Blue Jackets|
|G||Sergei Bobrovsky||Blue Jackets|
|D||P.K. Subban (C)||Predators|
|F||Connor McDavid (C)||Oilers|
This year's game will once again feature the three-on-three format that debuted one year ago. It creates an exciting end-to-end brand of attacking hockey that's more entertaining than the standard five-on-five approach of years past since there was little defense played anyway.
The Metropolitan Division is stacked at forward with the presence of Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as well as Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin. It will be intriguing to see whether those three end up on the ice together without a defenseman at some point.
Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid, the heir apparent to Crosby as the best player in the league, is making his All-Star debut after missing last year's game due to an injury. He's joined on the Pacific Division team by a strong defense of Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) and Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks).
The Central Division is the only one with the offensive firepower to keep pace with the Metropolitan. It will feature a star-studded forward group, led by Chicago Blackhawks stalwarts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, along with Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Division seems like the early underdog. It's a bit surprising that Kyle Okposo got the nod as the Buffalo Sabres' representative over Jack Eichel, whose speed and skill is better suited for the three-on-three competition, but Eichel did miss a quarter of the season due to injury.