The NHL announced the remaining players for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game, and several familiar and high-scoring stars will descend upon Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for All-Star Weekend.
The host Nashville Predators have three players among the 40 named Wednesday by the NHL's Hockey Operations Department: goalie Pekka Rinne and defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi will play for the Central Division All-Stars.
"It's awesome," Weber said. "As a kid you grow up, and you watch all the best players in the world go to these All-Star games. It's almost like you're a little kid again in some ways. You watch these other players and you play against them during the year, and it's a challenge. Obviously there's some very good talent and you love the challenge, but now you get a chance to be on their team and go out there and make plays and try to win with some of the guys you always compete against.
"We're fortunate, the three of us, that we get to do it in our home city in front of our home fans here. They're going to blow the roof off of this place like they do every game night. It's good for the city. They're going to experience an All-Star Game for the first time. I think it's been a long time coming, but they're definitely going to put on a good show."
Rinne was named an All-Star last season, but was unable to play because of an injury.
"It's probably the only time in my career of being able to enjoy it in your hometown, in the town where you play," Rinne said. "Very special. ... I feel excited. My first reaction was surprised, but it is a great, great honor."
Joining the Predators trio are a number of all-too-familiar Nashville rivals who will now become fan favorites in the new 3-on-3 divisional format instituted this season.
Chicago Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are on the Central Division roster, as are Dallas Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko and Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene.
Kane, who was the voted in as captain of the Central Division team, and Toews starred as the Blackhawks knocked the Predators out of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in six games during the Western Conference First Round. Benn and Seguin are the driving force behind the Stars, who lead the division this season by eight points.
Together, the Central Division's six forwards have scored 125 goals. Benn leads the League with 24 goals and Kane, who leads the League in points (59), Seguin and Tarasenko are tied for second with 23. Duchene, who has 18 goals, is also in the top 10 among League scorers.
Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets) and goalie Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota Wild) are the other two members of the Central Division team.
In the new format, each division has a roster of six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. One player from each division was voted onto the team by the fans and will serve as captain. Each All-Star team will have at least one player from every team in its division.
The game, to be played Sunday, Jan. 31 (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports), will be a 3-on-3 tournament pitting the four divisions against one another in a winner-take-all format. The Atlantic Division will face the Metropolitan Division in one semifinal and the Central Division will face the Pacific Division in the other semifinal. The winners play in the championship game.
Games will be 20 minutes in length and will be decided by a shootout if tied after the 20 minutes.
The 44 players will also be involved in the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).
The Central Division, coached by Lindy Ruff of the Stars, will have its share of competition when it comes to star power.
Alex Ovechkin, selected captain by the fan vote, heads the Metropolitan Division team, which will be coached by Barry Trotz of the Capitals. Ovechkin has 21 goals this season and is just four short of reaching 500 goals for his NHL career. He is joined by linemate Nicklas Backstrom, who has 35 points, and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, who is tied for the division lead in points with 37.
John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and Brandon Saad of the Columbus Blue Jackets are the other Metropolitan forwards. The defensemen are Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes, who is tied for the League lead in power-play goals (12), Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Metropolitan Division may have the best goalie tandem in the tournament. Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals leads the NHL in almost every goalie category, including a League-best .932 save percentage among goalies to appear in at least 20 games. Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils has been the runaway MVP of one of the League's more surprising teams in the first half.
Jaromir Jagr, the captain of the Atlantic Division, is one of three representatives from the Florida Panthers, another of the big surprise teams in the first half. The Panthers lead the Atlantic Division in part because of the play of Jagr, 43, who has a team-best 29 points, goalie Roberto Luongo, who has 18 wins and a .930 save percentage, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Their coach, Gerard Gallant, will coach the Atlantic All-Stars.
Ben Bishop from the Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning is the other goaltender for the Atlantic Division and is joined by teammate Steven Stamkos, one of six forwards on the team. The other forwards are Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Ryan O'Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings and Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Atlantic Division boasts a defense that is hard to beat as it features Ekblad, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens. Karlsson and Subban have combined to win the Norris Trophy in three of the past four seasons and Karlsson is the current holder. Ekblad, meanwhile, won the Calder Trophy last season, the first defenseman to do so since Tyler Myers in 2010.
The Pacific Division has a mobile and skilled defense corps, led by Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, who averages 27:56 per game. He is joined Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, No. 2 in average time on ice in the division and Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, No. 6 in that category.
The goalies for the Pacific Division are Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks. Quick leads the division with 22 wins and Gibson, in a platoon situation in Anaheim, has a .932 save percentage in 15 appearances
The Pacific Division, coached by Darryl Sutter of the Kings, also has a good mix of youth and veterans among its forward. John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes, voted in by the fans, leads the veteran contingent, joined by Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim's Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks. Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers represent the youth movement.
Hall, 24, leads the Pacific Division with 41 points while Gaudreau, 22, is second with 39 points.
* - Fan-elected captain