The NHL has announced its first two injury replacements for the 2012 NHL All-Star game in Ottawa.
Out: Minnesota forward Mikko Koivu and Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
In: Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle and Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang.
The two newest players will add an infusion of youth to the ASG. Eberle, 21, leads the Oilers in goals, assists and points and will be making his NHL All-Star Game debut in Ottawa while Letang, 24, will be making his fourth appearance (two YoungStars/Rookie-Sophomore appearances, two ASGs).
Letang has 23 points in 25 games this season and is playing an average of 26:13 per game for the Penguins.
If you’re looking for potential objections to either of these replacements, look no further than the city of Philadelphia. Flyers fans (and coaches!) have been outspoken in saying Scott Hartnell is deserving of an All-Star spot…and to be honest, they’ve got a point. Hartnell is fifth in the NHL in goals, with 25, and leads the league with 13 power-play markers. Not to discredit the body of work Eberle’s put forth, of course.
On defense, it’s hard to argue with the Letang addition — if he’s healthy, he deserves to go — though Jason Garrison, who leads all defensemen with 13 goals, is a worthy candidate.
That said, both Hartnell and Garrison may still get a chance to go to Ottawa. Jamie Benn, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Suter (yes, even though he’s back tonight) are all dealing with injury issues and could potentially be held out of the All-Star festivities.