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Aho, Teravainen make selections for Last Men In at NHL All-Star Game

Hurricanes forwards pitch fellow Finns Laine, Barkov for trip to San Jose

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

NEW YORK -- Though some fans are meticulously breaking down the merits of who should earn selections for the 2019 NHL All-Star Last Men In presented by adidas, Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho had no such qualms.

The Last Men In is a new initiative that allows fans to select a player from each division to join the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game rosters. The game will be played at SAP Center in San Jose on Jan. 26 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"I'll go all the Finns," said Aho, a native of Rauma, Finland, who was selected by NHL Hockey Operations to represent the Metropolitan Division. "This is easy: (Patrik) Laine, (Aleksander) Barkov, (Teuvo) Teravainen."

 

[RELATED: Vote for All-Star Last Men In | Last Men In candidates debated]

 

That does knock off three of the four divisions, and each player is a worthwhile candidate.

Laine, a forward with the Winnipeg Jets in the Central Division, has 32 points (24 goals, eight assists) in 41 games. Barkov, a center and captain of the Florida Panthers from the Atlantic, has 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 40 games. Teravainen, Aho's linemate with the Hurricanes in the Metropolitan, has 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 41 games.

But what about the Pacific Division, which doesn't have a Finland-born player on its eight-man ballot? 

"That's harder," Aho said during a visit to the NHL offices on Monday. "Who would I go with? (Ryan) Getzlaf, I guess. There are no Finns. He's a great player, tough to play against. I was thinking it was between him and (Anze Kopitar)."

Video: Deciding on "Last Man" candidates for All-Star Game

Getzlaf, a forward and captain of the Anaheim Ducks, has 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists) in 37 games. Kopitar, a center and captain of the Los Angeles Kings, has 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) in 42 games.

Aho, who has 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 41 games, made the switch from wing to center this season, so it is not surprising there would be solid two-way centers on the top of his list from the Pacific.

Teravainen also played the Finnish card when asked about his Last Men In votes, but highlighted a few other deserving players.

In the Pacific, he went with Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Drasaitl, who has 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 42 games and is tied for ninth in NHL scoring with Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. 

"I feel like he is a pretty good player," Teravainen said. "Fifty-two points; that's a lot of points. I feel like he should probably be in there."

In the Central, he stumped for Laine, citing his five-goal game against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 24, 2018. But he also made a compelling argument for center Jonathan Toews, the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks.

In the Atlantic, it was Barkov.

"He's a really good player and the captain, so I feel like he deserves to be there," Teravainen said.

If not Barkov, he said it should be Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner, who played with the Hurricanes from 2010-17 before being traded on Aug. 2, 2018. Skinner has 28 goals this season, second in the NHL to Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (30). Ovechkin was selected as Metropolitan captain in a fan vote but announced last week he was not going to participate in the festivities.

"He's had a really good year and I know him from Carolina, it's nice to see him doing good," Teravainen said of Skinner. "He's scoring a lot of goals."

Does Teravainen think he has a chance to carry the vote in the Metropolitan, which also has Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils, Anders Lee of the New York Islanders, Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers, Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers, Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals as the other options in the Last Men In vote?

He's not sure, but he is honored to be involved.

"It means a lot," he said. "It's a new spot for me to be in. Aho really deserves to go, he has had a great season. I didn't even know there was anything like this, so I was kind of surprised to see me in this kind of vote.

"It is kind of fun that the fans can vote someone in, so we'll see who has the most fans."

Voting for the Last Men in continues through 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday. Fans can vote at NHL.com/Vote or on a mobile interactive ballot on the NHL app.

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