The Toronto Maple Leafs dynamic duo was finally added to the NHL All-Star Game roster Thursday night. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul will join teammate Dion Phaneuf as two of three Leafs in Ottawa on Jan. 29 as non-starters.
Phaneuf was voted in as a starter last week by fan balloting while Kessel and Lupul, two of the league’s top five scorers, were among 36 players added by the league’s hockey operations department. Kessel was picked last in Raleigh, NC. at last year’s All-Star Game but won’t be ridiculed this time. The 23-year-old, who was shamelessly photographed by Alex Ovechkin last year, is tied second in total points with 48, only behind Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin with 50. Lupul, a first-time all-star, isn’t far behind with 45 points, fifth best overall.
The league’s top nine scorers, including Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, were added. The host Senators lead the way with five players in the All-Star game while the Leafs, Rangers, Canucks, Bruins and Blackhawks have three. The starters will be Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson, Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf and Boston’s Tim Thomas in net.
The All-Star Game will once again feature a fantasy player draft, to be held on Jan. 26, captains choosing the players for their respective teams. The captains and assistant captains will be announced next week. In addition to 36 roster players, 12 rookies have been asked to participate in the weekend preceding’s skills competition including Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is recovering from a separated left shoulder. The nationally-televised draft will take place on Jan.26.