Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker, a potential NHL All-Star, will get his first taste of the mid-season festivities after being selected to the YoungStars game on Jan. 24.
Boedker, 19, will join 19 other players in the newly formatted rookies vs. sophomores game, which will feature a three-on-three matchup.
“It’s a big honor and obviously special to be with all of the All-Stars there,” Boedker said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for me to see all those guys play and it’s going to be a lot of fun to be on the ice with all of the guys there. It’s a big honor for me.”
The native of Brondby, Denmark is the sixth member of the Coyotes organization to earn an invitation to the game, which was introduced in 2002. Forward Peter Mueller knows what Boedker should expect after participating last season in Atlanta.
“He should have fun,” said Mueller, who has nine goals and 16 assists this season in 41 games. “He deserves it. He had a great first half. It’s exciting to go to something special like that and see a lot of things and a lot of great players. When he comes back, he’s going to have a whole bunch of confidence.”
Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky believes Boedker, who has seven goals and 11 assists, deserved to be invited.
“He has done everything we have asked of him,” Gretzky said. “He’s stepped in and been a very nice hockey player for 19 years old. He’s partly on the penalty kill and power play. He’s got NHL speed. He is a tremendous young man and he wants to get better.”
While Boedker’s family won’t be joining the Danish star in Montréal, his family will be there in spirit.
“I’m sure my dad will be there in front of the computer screen watching,” Boedker said.
This season has been a big change for Boedker, who was playing with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League last season.
“Everybody is so good and so competitive,” Boedker said. “It’s so competitive up here and tight for a playoff spot. Everyone wants to win and it’s a lot of fun.”
“I think that any time an 18-year-old steps in the National Hockey League, it’s difficult,” Gretzky said. “I don’t care who you are. (Steven) Stamkos (from Tampa Bay) will tell you the same thing. It’s a big change. You go from hanging around and spending time with 17- and -18-year old kids, to living with and being around men who have families and kids. The game itself is a much better game. It’s stronger and faster. Travel is quite unique.”