Host of Russians selected for NHL All-Star Game
Russian hockey stars including Alexander Ovechkin have been selected among the 32-man list announced by the NHL for its 2023 All-Star Game, which will take place in Florida next month.
The league confirmed the first names on Thursday after they were chosen by the NHL Department of Hockey Operations. A further 12 players will be added to the rosters for the league’s four decisions following a fan vote.
The six Russians already named include Washington Capitals star Ovechkin, who has been selected for the NHL showpiece for the 13th time – a franchise record. Ovechkin, 37, continues to chase history this season after moving into second place in the NHL’s all-time scoring charts, behind only Wayne Gretzky.
Ovechkin was on target again on Thursday night in the Capitals’ 6-2 rout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The goal was the 809th of Ovechkin’s NHL career and his 29th of the season.
Ovechkin has missed the last three All-Star Games he was selected for, opting out in 2019 and 2020 in favor of taking a rest for the remainder of the season, and being forced out in 2022 after testing positive for Covid-19.
Elsewhere on the list for 2023, Ovechkin was joined on the roster for the Metropolitan Division by Russian right wing Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin – winner of the Vezina Trophy for the NHL’s best goalie last season. Svechnikov, 22, has been selected for the NHL showpiece for the first time, as reward for a season in which he has thus far registered 33 points in 38 games – as well as tallying 78 hits.
In the Atlantic Division, Russia’s Nikita Kucherov will represent the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kucherov and his team missed out on an historic ‘threepeat’ of Stanley Cup triumphs last season, falling at the final hurdle against the Colorado Avalanche. Kucherov, 29, continues to impress and has 54 points across 37 games thus far this season. For Kucherov it is a fourth All-Star selection.
Russia has two representatives on the roster for the Central Division. Left wing Kirill Kaprizov, 25, is enjoying an impressive season at the Minnesota Wild, where he has set franchise records on the way to racking up 22 goals and 47 points in total. Kaprizov will be making a second consecutive appearance in the All-Star Game after his debut last season.
Russia’s Vladimir Tarasenko, 31, was also included on the Central Division roster, but the St. Louis Blues right wing will likely be replaced after suffering a hand injury. Tarasenko has nonetheless been named on the list for the All-Star Game for the fourth time, following selections in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Under the new NHL format, the remaining 12 players for the All-Star Game – one goalie and two skaters for each division – will be selected by a fan vote. The 2023 All-Star weekend will be held on February 3 and 4 at the FLA Live Arena, which is the home of the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.
The action will feature the NHL All-Star Game itself as well as an All-Star Skills Competition. The All-Star Game will again be played in a 3-on-3 format, in a tournament featuring 11-player teams from each of the league’s four divisions.