SAN JOSE – Following a first half for the ages, San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson – to no one’s surprise – was selected to play in this year’s NHL All-Star Game.
Karlsson on Thursday was among 32 players, one from each team, chosen to participate in the NHL’s all-star weekend festivities, which take place Feb. 3-4 at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida.
The NHL’s department of hockey operations selected the initial eight-man rosters for each of the four divisions. The three remaining players per division, two skaters and one goalie, will be selected by a public vote that began Thursday night and ends on Jan. 17.
This is the seventh time Karlsson, 32, has been selected for the game, although this might be the most meaningful.
Not only is he fully healthy, but he’s also now a father to two young children, a daughter, and a son.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been in one, so it would obviously be fun,” Karlsson said Thursday morning before the initial all-star rosters were announced. “It would be the first time if I get to go, that I can bring my family and kids.
“I have a three-year-old that probably won’t remember much of it, but she can still be around and I’m sure she will enjoy the whole aspect of it. So I think that will be the most exciting part, is to be able to share it with my kids, have them around, and build some good memories.”
It’s been an unforgettable first half of the season so far for Karlsson, who is putting together a resume that might put him in line for a third Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.
Prior to Thursday, Karlsson, in 39 games, led all NHL defensemen in goals (13) and assists (40) and is on pace to become the first blueliner in over 30 years to eclipse 100 points in a season.
Karlsson’s 53 points so far mark the fastest start he’s had in his 13-plus years in the NHL and is already greater than any season total he’s had since he came to the Sharks in a blockbuster trade with the Ottawa Senators in 2018. He has either scored or assisted on a staggering 44.2 percent of the Sharks’ 120 goals this season.
Going into Friday’s game with the Anaheim Ducks, Karlsson is on a Sharks franchise-record 13-game point streak and is one of only eight defensemen in league history to have at least 40 assists in 39 or fewer games. Only 26 NHL defensemen have had point streaks of 13 games or more.
The last defenseman to score at least 100 points in a season was the New York Rangers’ Brian Leetch, who had 102 points in 1991-1992.
Karlsson’s last all-star game appearance came in 2019 when the event was held at SAP Center in San Jose. Karlsson, who was playing through a groin injury at the time, was joined on the Pacific Division team by former Sharks Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns.
“I’ve always enjoyed the ones that I’ve gone to before,” Karlsson said of his previous six all-star game selections. “I’ve got lots of friends around the league and it’s always nice to reconnect with them and spend some time with people that you don’t get to spend that much time with.”
Among the other seven players chosen for the Pacific Division were Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Los Angeles’ Kevin Fiala, and Seattle’s Matty Beniers.
NHL all-star weekend will feature the skills competition on Feb. 3 and a four-team 3-on-3 tournament on Feb. 4.