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NHL's Bright Future Is On Display

by Staff Writer / Colorado Avalanche

If you thought the stars came out only for the NHL All-Star Game this season, then you were mistaken. The rosters for the YoungStars Game presented by Upper Deck on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas also pack quite a punch in the luminary category.

The NHL's impressive rookie class will be on display in this unique four-on-four game that precedes the All-Star Skills competition.

Pittsburgh Penguins rookie sensation Evgeni Malkin leads the way and is joined by teammates Ryan Whitney and Jordan Staal, whose brother Eric will play for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game.

Boston's Phil Kessel, who just returned to the ice from cancer surgery, also will play for the Eastern YoungStars.

The Western YoungStars are led by the Kings' Anze Kopitar, who also has been a standout performer this season.

Here is a look at the YoungStars rosters.
Eastern Conference
Kari Lehtonen, G, Atlanta
The Atlanta Thrashers goaltender is regarded as one of the top goaltending prospects to come to the NHL in decades. The second-overall pick in the 2002 Entry Draft, Lehtonen has posted a 19-11-7 record so far with the Thrashers and has a 2.81 goals-against average.

Mike Green, D, Wahington
The unheralded Green finally gets to take a turn in the spotlight after playing so well for the Washington Capitals this season. The 29th pick in the 2004 Entry Draft, Green has been a very steady performer for the improved Caps and has scored two goals and six assists in 42 games.

Andrej Meszaros, D, Ottawa
The 23rd pick in the 2004 Entry Draft, Meszaros is in his second full season with the Ottawa Senators, scoring four goals and 19 assists in 46 games. In 2005-06, Meszaros scored 10 goals and 29 assists in 82 games.

Ryan Whitney, D, Pittsburgh
An important member of the Penguins' kiddie corps, Whitney is emerging as a top-notch defenseman. The fifth pick in the 2002 Entry Draft, he already is closing in on improving his stats from last season, when he scored six goals and 32 assists. In 42 games this season, Whitney has seven goals and 19 assists.

Patrick Eaves, F, Ottawa
Picked 29th in the 2003 draft, Eaves is the son of former NHL player Mike Eaves. And like his dad, he is showing he can play in the NHL. Eaves scored 20 goals for the stacked Senators last season and in 46 games this season, he has scored nine goals and 13 assists.

Phil Kessel, F, Boston
No one knew what to expect when word came that Kessel would need surgery for testicular cancer. But the fifth pick in the 2006 Entry Draft has made a remarkable recovery and already is back on the ice. In 29 games, he has five goals and four assists.

Evgeni Malkin, F, Pittsburgh
Malkin has more that lived up to the hype that greeted his entry to the NHL. The second pick in the 2004 draft is averaging more than a point per game with 20 goals and 21 assists in 28 games. He is a big, strong forward who has an on-ice presence that reminds many of Penguins owner Mario Lemieux.

Zach Parise, F, New Jersey
A super sophomore for the New Jersey Devils, the son of former NHLer J.P. Parise is making quite a name for himself with the Atlantic Division leaders. With 17 goals and 17 assists already this season, he has surpassed his rookie totals in goals and points and needs just one assist to equal his rookie total in that department.

Jordan Staal, F, Pittsburgh
Get ready hockey fans, the Staal family is getting ready for a long run in the NHL. Carolina's Eric already is a prime-time player and Jordan make the Pens as an 18-year-old and has been a marvel and has scored 12 goals and three assists in 41 games, with five os his goals being shorthanded.

Alex Steen, F, Toronto
More NHL bloodlines here as Alex is the son of longtime Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen. He has nine goals and 10 assists in 45 games for the Maple Leafs this season.

Thomas Vanek, F, Buffalo
A revelation in his sophomore season, the Sabres' Vanek has shown an appreciation for the number 23. In 44 games this season, Vanek has 23 goals, 23 assists and is a plus 23. He had 25 goals, 23 assists and 48 points all of last season, so he is poised to obliterate those stats this season.

Western Conference
Peter Budaj, G, Colorado
This young Slovakian has played very well for the Colorado Avalanche this season, posting a 12-9-2 record and 2.59 goals-against average in 24 appearances.

Matt Carle, D, San Jose
The former Hobey Baker Trophy winner has three goals and 18 assists in his first 39 games for the Sharks. He is a former second-round pick (47th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft.

Brent Seabrook, D, Chicago
Drafted 14th overall in 2003, Seabrook is emerging as one of the NHL's top, young defensemen. He has the size - 6-foot-3, 220 pounds -- and skill to be a fixture on the Chicago backline for years to come. In 42 games this season, he has two goals and nine assists.

Ladislav Smid, D, Edmonton
Acquired from Anaheim in the Chris Pronger trade, the Oilers are delighted with the contributions of Smid, who has nine assists in 40 games of his rookie season. He was selected ninth overall by the Ducks in the 2004 Entry Draft.

Shea Weber, D, Nashville
A second-round pick in 2003, Weber has made a home for himself on the Predators' blue line. In 44 games, he has seven goals and 16 assists, surpassing the two goals and eight assists he has in 28 games last season.

Ryan Getzlaf, F, Anaheim
A terrific sophomore season for the 19th pick of the 2003 Entry Draft. Getzlaf has scored 18 goals and 11 assists in 46 games this season after picking up 14 goals and 25 assists in 57 games last season.

Jussi Jokinen, F, Dallas
A shootout marvel, scoring 10 goals on 13 attempts last season, Jokinen is a dangerous presence for Dallas. He has scored four goals in five chances already this season and has netted nine goals and 13 assists in 45 games.

Anze Kopitar, F, Los Angeles
Get used to this name, you'll be seeing it a lot. The first Slovenian player in the NHL has shown terrific skills. In 45 games, he has scored 12 goals and 27 assists.

Alexander Radulov, F, Nashville
The king of the goal celebration, the young Predator has shown tons of talent in his short NHL career. He has 11 goals and nine assists in 31 games and looks to have a long career ahead of him.

Lee Stempniak, F, St. Louis
A fifth-round pick by the Blues in 2003, this Dartmouth product is quickly making a name for himself. This season, he has 13 goals and 13 assists in 43 games after netting 14 goals and 13 assists in 57 games last season.

Wojtek Wolski, F, Colorado
Selected 21st in the 2004 Entry Draft, Wolski made an positive impression during a brief tenure with the Avalanche. This season, he is furthering that positive impression with 15 goals and 16 assists in 42 games.


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