The NHL announced on Tuesday that New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad was one of four “Last Men In” voted into the 2022 NHL All-Star Game to be held in Las Vegas on Feb. 5.
Due to personal reasons, however, Zibanejad will unable to attend. the event. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel has taken his place to represent the Metropolitan Division team.
For Zibanejad, it was his first-ever selection to an All-Star Game as he’s recorded 14 goals and 21 assists (35 points) in 39 games this season — continuing to carry the burden of first-line center duties for the Rangers.
After a slow start last season, the Swede put together a strong showing in 2020-21 with 24 goals and 26 assists (50 points) in 56 games. This after a breakout 2019-20 season in which he potted 41 goals in 57 games before the season was halted due to COVID. He’s on pace to flirt with 30 goals and 75 points this season.
The 28-year-old would have been the third Rangers player selected to the All-Star Game this year, joining defenseman Adam Fox and forward Chris Kreider.
It’s the 34th time ever and the ninth time since the 1976-77 season that the Rangers have had three or more players selected to the same All-Star Game. It’s also the first time since 2011-12 when the Blueshirts sent Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, and Marian Gaborik to the event.
Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic Division), Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (Central), and Anaheim Ducks right winger Troy Terry (Pacific) were the other three “Last Men In” selected to the All-Star Game.