WASHINGTON — Mathew Barzal is an All-Star veteran at age 22.
The Islanders’ top-line center and leading scorer was named an NHL All-Star for the second straight season as the league’s hockey operations department announced the bulk of the rosters on Monday afternoon.
The top-line center was picked for the Metropolitan Division squad for All-Star Weekend Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis, including the main-event, three-on-three tournament among the four divisions.
“Last year, what I took out of it was I got to see Sid [Crosby] and [Claude] Giroux close up, and that was cool for me because those were two of the players I looked up to growing up,” Barzal told Newsday. “This year I’m going to go in and just have fun and try to enjoy myself. Last year I was a little nervous because it was my first one. This year I just have a better understanding of how it works.”
Islanders center Brock Nelson also is an All-Star possibility. He was selected as the team’s last-man candidate for fan voting between Wednesday and Jan. 10.
“I think Nellie had a pretty good start to the year,” Barzal said. “I thought maybe he could’ve gotten invited.”
Nelson is second on the Islanders in scoring with 13 goals and 16 assists. Barzal has 16 goals and 17 assists.
Barzal had five points in his first All-Star appearance in San Jose. That included two goals and three assists as he played on an electric trio with Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang in a 10-5 win over Central in the title match.
Neither Penguins star was named to this season’s Metropolitan squad, but Barzal said he’s intrigued about possibly playing with the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin and Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones.
“I’d be excited to play with Panarin, that’s for sure,” Barzal said. “I think me and his game could be good three-on-three. Seth Jones is one of the better defensemen in the league. That’d be a pretty good three-man unit.”
The Metropolitan squad already needs to replace fan-voted captain Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, who announced he will not participate, and injured Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
“I think either of our goalies could have the opportunity to go. They’ve both been really good for us,” Barzal said of Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss.
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