Citing a nagging lower-body injury, the Caps pulled captain Alex Ovechkin out of this year's All-Star Game, thereby opening up a spot on the Metropolitan Division team's roster for this weekend's game - and this morning, the NHL announced that the spot will be taken by Ovechkin's teammate, Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Kuznetsov currently leads the team in scoring with 49 points, and ranks fifth in the League in that department (behind four guys who are already headed for the All-Star Game), and his selection is one more accomplishment in what has already been a pretty spectacular season for the third-year pro.
From the team:
ARLINGTON, VA. - Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov has been selected to participate in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game, the NHL announced today. The game will be played at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Jan. 31. Kuznetsov will join Capitals teammates Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby on the Metropolitan Division Team and Barry Trotz will serve as head coach.
Kuznetsov has registered 49 points (15 goals, 34 assists) in 47 games this season. The 6'2", 192-pound center leads the NHL in primary assists (29), assists per 60 minutes (2.44) and multi-assist games (10), ranks tied for first in three-assist games (3), three-point games (7), plus/minus (+24) and points per 60 minutes (3.55), tied for fourth in assists (34) and multi-point games (14), tied for fifth in points (49) and tied for seventh in overtime goals (2). The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native registered his first career hat trick and tallied a career-high five points (3g, 2a) on Oct. 23 at Edmonton. He became the first Capitals player to record five points in a game since Backstrom (1g, 4a) on Dec. 10, 2013, against Tampa Bay and the first to tally five points on the road since Backstrom (1g, 4a) on Feb. 4, 2010, against the NY Rangers. On Jan. 19 at Columbus, Kuznetsov registered a career-high four assists, marking his second consecutive three-assist game (1/17 vs. NYR: 3a). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the fifth different player in franchise history to record three or more assists in back-to-back games and the first since Backstrom in 2007-08 (1/19/08-1/21/08: 8a).