ANAHEIM, Calif. — Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is especially proud to be named to his first NHL All-Star Game because it came off Tuesday thanks to fan voting for the “last man” after the top 10 were named last week. players in the Central Division. league officials.
“That’s why you play – to get respect,” Kadri told The Post after a Wednesday morning ride at the Honda Center.
Kadri enters the game against the Ducks on Wednesday night as the Aws’ top scorer. He is fifth in the NHL with 49 points (14 goals) in 33 games. He is also fifth in points per game (148). The 31-year-old is just 12 points short of his career high of 61 in 2016-17 with Toronto.
“Of course it’s exciting,” Kadri said of the creation of the All-Star Game. “I have done a lot of hard work this year. It could have been any of these guys on the team. It’s an honor and a privilege. I can’t wait to introduce myself and our team.”
Kadri will be the third ABC player and the team’s fourth All-Star. Center Nathan McKinnon is the captain of the Central Division, while defenseman Cale Makar was also named by the league. Colorado Coach Jared Bednar will bench in the 3-on-3 tournament at T-Mobile Arena.
“I don’t think you see it too often,” Kadri said of four of the same team in a 3v3 format. “It’s definitely special, something you’ll remember. And there could be a couple more. Every time you receive such recognition, you are very proud of it.”
Aws right winger Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Devon Toews were among those credited at the All-Star Game but were not named. Rantanen leads Colorado with 20 goals and is seventh in the NHL in scoring with 46 points. Toews has a high league rating plus 30.
“Unfortunately, you have to have representatives from every team,” Bednar said. “But I would say that in the case of Naz, the process worked for him. He gets the last place in the voting, more than twice ahead of the next player, so I think the fans of the game and the people around the game have recognized what he has done this season.
“I love seeing a guy like that who has been in the league for over 10 years and now he has a year of career and he just keeps getting better and better. I’m very happy for him.”
The Avs All-Star contingent will travel to Las Vegas together at least two days before the 3v3 event on February 5th. Skills competitions and other events exclude the holding of a tournament.
Kadri is looking forward to the whole weekend.
“That’s all there is to it on the sidelines,” he said. “I’m dating some guys, enjoying it with my teammates and obviously we’re going to a pretty good place. It will be good – all weekend.”
Footnotes. On Wednesday, the NHL announced it would play 95 games from Feb. 7 to Feb. 22, the timeline originally reserved for the league’s participation in the Winter Olympics. Avs now has seven games – each taking place after the COVID shutdown in December – from Feb. 10 to Feb. 23. … Goaltender Pavel Francoise will start against the Ducks and Darcy Kemper will play in Thursday’s game in Los Angeles. Bednar said Kemper, who pulled out of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild with a head injury, has no symptoms and is cleared to play. … Bednar said forward Valery Nichushkin, who is on COVID protocol after testing positive last week, could potentially join the team in Los Angeles and play against the Kings. “Tomorrow he has a way out of prison, but he must pass a PCR test. So there is a chance,” said Bednar.