BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rasmus Dahlin is an All-Star after all.
The Sabres’ top defenseman will replace leading scorer Tage Thompson at the NHL All-Star Weekend in Florida after Thompson sustained an upper-body injury Wednesday night in Buffalo’s last game before the break, a 5-1 loss at home against Carolina.
Dahlin, the Sabres’ second-leading point producer, will participate in the hardest shot event at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Friday night.
“I want to see what I can do,” Dahlin told NHL Network on Thursday, before noting that his shot power is “not even close” compared with Thompson’s.
The 22-year-old Dahlin was an All-Star a year ago and has been even better this season. Dahlin’s 14 goals are a career-high and he leads the Sabres with 40 assists. He ranks second among NHL defenseman with 54 points, the second-most by a Buffalo blue-liner through the first 50 games in history. He is on pace to break Hall of Famer Phil Housley’s team record for points by a defenseman (91).
Dahlin began the season setting an NHL record for defenseman with goals in the first five games, and was named the NHL’s first star of the season’s opening week. He has missed one game this season and ranks third in the league in average ice time (26:07).
The NHL All-Star Skills Competition will start at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN. The All-Star Game, which will be a 3-on-3 tournament among teams from the NHL’s four divisions, is at 3 p.m. Saturday on ABC.
Thompson was selected as a first-time All-Star during a season in which he stands among the league leaders with 34 goals and 68 points. He left Wednesday’s game after the second period and remained in the dressing room after the third. Coach Don Granato said postgame that he did not know the details about Thompson’s injury. Thompson was held out of practice Monday for maintenance.
Dahlin is the lone defenseman on the Atlantic Division roster. Fans voted three additional forwards to be All-Stars after the NHL selected one player from each team.
The other Atlantic All-Stars are: David Pastrnak (Bruins), Dylan Larkin (Red Wings), Aleksandr Barkov (Panthers), Matthew Tkachuk (Panthers), Nick Suzuki (Canadiens), Brady Tkachuk (Senators), Nikita Kucherov, (Lightning) and Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs) along with former Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark (Bruins) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning). Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was selected but will not participate due to injury. He was replaced by Suzuki.
Dahlin represented Buffalo at last year’s All-Star Game during a breakout season win which tallied 13 goals and 53 points in 80 games. He exceeded those scoring totals in 46 games this season.
The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is set to feature two new outdoor events in South Florida: a mix of hockey and golf and a dunk tank on the beach.
The league announced details Tuesday for the opening of All-Star Weekend, which is set for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise and Fort Lauderdale, including the return of women’s hockey players.
In what the NHL is calling “Pitch ’n Puck,” six players will play a par 4 with a combination of golf and hockey shots. “Splash Shot” will involve players shooting pucks at targets to dunk their opponents.
The third new event, taking place indoors, is a goaltender shooting competition. The league started going outside for new skills competition ideas last year on the Las Vegas Strip.
Women’s players have been involved in the skills competition for a few years now and will return with Americans Hilary Knight and Alex Carpenter and Canadians Emily Clark, Rebecca Johnston and Sarah Nurse taking part.
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.