The NHL revealed the 16 Eastern Conference players that will head to Toronto for NHL All-Star Weekend, with Mat Barzal representing the NY Islanders. This will be Barzal's third All-Star game appearance.
Barzal is having his best season since his rookie campaign, totaling 37 points (10 goals, 27 assists) through 36 games, leading the Islanders. He's currently on pace for 84 points, which would put him one short of his 85 during his Calder Trophy-winning season in 2017-18.
Shifting Barzal to the wing was an experiment Lou Lamoriello and the Isles were hoping would work when they acquired Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks, and it seems to have benefitted everyone. His uncanny ability to dictate play and find his teammates has Horvat on pace to shatter his career-best 61 points, set in 2018-19.
Barzal's nifty stick handling and speed will make him a sight to see in the high-scoring 3-on-3 game without much physicality. He'll surely be a competitor in the fastest skater competition at the skills competition, hoping to claim his second title. In 2020, Barzal beat out the rest of the group, including Connor McDavid, with a time of 13.175 seconds - just .003 seconds off the record.
With the NHL announcing one representative from each team tonight, the fans will have an opportunity to vote for the final 12 roster spots, which will be announced on Jan. 11. Noah Dobson, Bo Horvat, and Brock Nelson are all potential suitors to join Barzal. Last season, Ilya Sorokin, Nelson, and Horvat represented the Islanders at All-Star weekend, with Horvat donning the super rare Western Conference NY Islanders sweater.
A third day will be added to All-Star weekend as the NHL is going away from divisional rosters and will instead go back to a fantasy draft. Celebrities will join four captains to select each team, consisting of nine skaters and two goalies.