(HockeySTL) -- Forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk are headed to the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.
Both players were announced to the All-Star roster Saturday evening. The roster consists of 40 other participants, with each team represented. The All-Star Game will take place on Jan. 25 in Columbus at Nationwide arena and it will be the first All-Star event the Blues have had two representatives at since 2004.
Tarasenko has had a breakout year with the Blues, tallying 43 points on the season. The 23-year-old forward is in the top ten in the NHL in both goals (22) and points (43).
“The caliber of play that he’s at when he has the puck is like nothing I have every played with,” teammate T.J. Oshie said.
It will be Tarasenko’s first appearance at the event. Last year the young Russian forward participated in the Olympics, a much larger stage than the one held later this month. He will be accompanied by Shattenkirk, who was a part of the rookie festivities in 2011.
“He is someone I have talked to about it,” Shattenkirk said. “I don’t see how he won’t be there. Not only given his success but given some of the highlight-reel plays he has made this year. He’s an exciting player and the whole thing is a weekend to showcase the talent in the league and show the fans a lighter side and fun side to the game. He is someone who we know really enjoys hockey and has fun with it. It would be the perfect weekend for him.”
Shattenkirk is also deserving of the honor. The 25-year-old is tied with Calgary’s Mark Giordano for most points by a defenseman this season (36) and leads the league in power-play points (23). However, Shattenkirk was believed to be on the bubble for a selection due to a limited number of spots following the six fan selections, which were announced earlier this month.
“Only natural (to want to be picked),” said Shattenkirk. “Just talking about the similarities to last year, worrying about the Olympics. The Olympics is obviously a much higher level but similar feeling just sitting around and waiting, really just wanting the waiting to be over, whether the decision is good or bad.”
The NHL has been criticized recently for allowing a fan vote to pick some of the All-Stars. The criticism came after five Chicago Blackhawks players were chosen by fans for the event.
“It’s tough because it’s a weekend for the fans,” said Shattenkirk. “It’s for them to see the fun side of the game. Those five guys are all deserving players. But it’s tough. If you are on the other side of it and your guys aren’t getting picked, it’s easy to say that the system is flawed but those are all guys who are All-Star players.”
Head coach Ken Hitchcock spoke about the selection process Thursday. He said his club had several players deserving of selection, but knew there could be some snubs.
“It’s a great event but we have had a number of players who have had All-Star years and I know the way it works,” said Hitchcock. “You have 30 teams and everybody has to be represented. There are always people that are legitimately disappointed. That is the only thing that bothers me, that there are always players who richly deserve to go but don’t get in.”
“I’m hopeful that the guys I think should go get a chance. If not, we will have to talk about that.”
The weekend event will kick off with a fantasy draft on Friday, Jan. 23. The players will participate in a skills competition on Saturday, Jan. 24 leading up to the All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 25.