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Meet the All Stars: Western Conference Edition

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The approaching All Star weekend is one of the most exciting events of the year for hockey fans. Captivated by the fun environment and unique atmosphere, fans from all over will travel to Toronto to watch the All Star Skills Competition and All Star Game, cheering on their favorite players from their favorite teams. The NHL recently released who will be representing each of the divisional teams. The Eastern Conference teams look tough, but the Western Conference teams are a force to be reckoned with.

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The Central Division is ready to bring the heat this All Star weekend, starting off with Clayton Keller, a right winger for the Arizona Coyotes. He has excellent offensive instincts and is a great playmaker. Though he is young, this is his fourth All Star appearance. Keller is one of the Coyotes’ longest tenured players, playing for Arizona since 2017.

The newest addition to the roster is Kyle Connor, who is a left winger for the Winnipeg Jets. He is known to have a diverse style of playing offense and is a key component to the Jets’ top line. He was added to the All Star lineup this week after it was announced that Connor Bedard would miss the All Star Weekend due to his broken jaw. Kyle Connor is the first Jets player to win the Lady Byng Trophy, which is an award given annually to an NHL player with the best sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

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The first goaltender on the roster is Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars. His insane athleticism and his size make him a powerful figure in the net. He was the first goalie in the expansion era to make his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The next goaltender is Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. He is known for his steady play and always trying to be in the right position to stop the puck. He is a pillar for the Jets’ defense with a save percentage of 0.925. Hellebuyck is known for playing against the odds to make it to the NHL- he went from being unnoticed by scouts to winning the Vezina Trophy, which is the most prestigious award for goaltenders.

Next, there is Kirill Kaprizov, who is a left winger for the Minnesota Wild. He is known for his incredible speed, his agility in out-maneuvering defense, and his creative plays. He has been called “The Face of the Minnesota Wild Franchise” and is fondly called “Kirill the Thrill” by fans.

Then, there is Filip Forsberg, who is a left winger for the Nashville Predators. He plays a strong offensive game and currently leads the Predators in goals and points, with 22, and 49, respectively. Even though Forsberg loves Nashville’s culture, he is not a fan of the city’s famous hot chicken because he has a strong dislike for spicy food.

Next, there is Robert Thomas, who is a center for the St. Louis Blues. Known for his smart plays, he leads the Blues in goals, assists, and points; with 16, 33, and 49, respectively. This will be Thomas’ first ever All Star appearance, which he says is “...pretty exciting, especially for…being in Toronto, my hometown.”

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Rounding out the Central Division from the Colorado Avalanche are Nathan MacKinnon, a center; Cale Makar, a defenseman; and Alexander Georgiev, a goaltender. MacKinnon is one of the top players in the league, having over 80 points so far this season. He is currently the highest paid player in the NHL. Makar is one of the most dynamic defenseman in the league, being the only player to win the Hobey Baker, Norris Trophy, and Conn Smythe awards in his career. He is known among his teammates as “Cale Salad.” Georgiev is known for his quick reflexes and advanced technique in the net. He is the first Bulgarian-born player in the NHL.

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Moving on to the coast, the Pacific division starts off with Frank Vatrano, a right winger for the Anaheim Ducks. He is known for his solid offensive abilities and his powerful shot. He is also known for being a very hard worker and an example to his teammates. Before his hockey career took off, he worked for a short stint at his family’s pizza place in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Next, there is Elias Lindholm, who is a center for the Calgary Flames. He is known for his excellent speed and creative plays. Lindholm currently holds the record for the youngest Swedish player to score his first NHL goal, at 18 years and 311 days old in his fourth NHL game back in 2013.

The first goalie listed is Cam Talbot, a goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings. He is known for his technical and his positional style of goaltending, and he has an amazing save percentage of 0.913. Prior to joining the NHL, Talbot played college hockey for the University of Alabama-Huntsville, and is the second NHL player to come out of that program.

Then there is Tomas Hertl, a center for the San Jose Sharks. He currently leads the Sharks in goals, and points this season; with 15, and 34, respectively. Hertl is the first player born in the modern Czech Republic after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia to appear in an NHL game. 

Coming from the recent Winter Classic win is Oliver Bjorkstrand, a right winger for the Seattle Kraken. Known for being a sniper and excellent forechecker, he leads the Kraken in points this season. Bjorkstrand is an avid soccer fan, and his favorite soccer player is Christian Ronaldo.

Next, from the recent Stanley Cup winning Vegas Golden Knights is Jack Eichel, who is a center.  He is excellent in the tight-checking, physical style of play and for creating playmaking opportunities for himself. He is currently trailing Jonathan Marchessault's 22 goals, with 19 goals for the Knights this season. Though he announced from an early age that he was going to be a professional hockey player, he claims that if he was not a hockey player, he would be an FBI agent. 

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Then comes the dynamic duo from the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, both centers. McDavid has had one of the most successful NHL careers of all time. He is known for his incredible speed, having won the All Star weekend Fastest Skater Competition three times. He currently leads the Oilers in points this season. McDavid is the youngest captain in NHL history, becoming the captain of the Oilers at 19 years old. Draisaitl is known for his calm and calculated style of play, and is behind McDavid with the second-most points this season for the Oilers. Draisaitl is the highest scoring German of all time. 

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To close out the Pacific division is quite the crew from the Vancouver Canucks- Quinn Hughes, a defenseman; Elias Pettersson, a center; J.T. Miller, a center; Brock Boeser, a right winger; and Thatcher Demko, a goaltender. Hughes is the top defenseman in the league right now, with 12 goals and 59 points. He became the fastest defenseman to reach 200 assists, reaching the milestone in 263 games. Pettersson is known for his strong and physical style of play, and is a cornerstone on the Canucks’ roster. Though he is one of the NHL’s most dynamic centers, Pettersson actually began his hockey career as a goalie. Miller is a very versatile player, and he currently leads the Canucks’ roster in points. He is the eighth-fastest, active United States-born player to reach the milestone of 500 points. Boeser currently leads the Canucks’ roster with the most goals scored this season at 27. He is tied for the most goals scored in a season opener in Canucks’ history. Demko is known for his sharp angles and quick movements in the net. He holds Boston College’s record for the most shutouts in a season at 10. 

The Western Conference has some record breaking talent on their teams. It will be exciting to watch them all represent their teams at this year’s All Star Weekend! 

Edited by Giana Robertaccio

Social Media Content Created by Caroline McGuinness

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