NEW YORK - Rookie scoring leaders Michael Ryder of Montreal and Trent Hunter of the New York Islanders were selected Saturday for the NHL YoungStars game, to be played during All-Star weekend.
Ryder had 14 goals and a rookie-best 36 points while playing in 48 of the Canadiens’ first 49 games this season. Hunter has also emerged as a rookie of the year contender by scoring 16 goals — including an NHL-high six winners — in 43 games.
Both Ryder and Hunter will play for the Eastern Conference team, made up entirely of rookies.
The Western Conference boasts seven rookies on its 11-man roster that features center Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who will represent the host Minnesota Wild in the Feb. 7 game. Bouchard, the eighth pick in the 2002 draft, had seven goals and 13 assists in 50 games last season, when he was 18.
Joining Bouchard up front for the West are, Jonathan Cheechoo of San Jose, Edmonton’s Raffi Torres, and rookies Matthew Lombardi of Calgary, Joffrey Lupul of Anaheim, Tuomo Ruutu of Chicago, and Columbus right wing Nikolai Zherdev.
The defensive unit will be made up of Alexei Semenov, a second-year player from Edmonton, and rookies Christian Ehrhoff of San Jose, and Nashville’s Dan Hamhuis. Rookie Philippe Sauve, the backup in Colorado to David Aebischer, will be the goalie.
Although the Western Conference will be the home team, local fans will have reason to cheer for both squads. New Jersey defenseman Paul Martin, a Twin Cities native and member of consecutive NCAA championship teams at Minnesota, was also chosen for the East.
Martin, born in Minneapolis, was the 1999 Minnesota high school player of the year with Elk River. Last season, he helped the Golden Gophers become the first school since Boston University in 1971-72 to win consecutive NCAA championships. The 22-year-old Martin, voted to the All-Tournament team last season, has two goals and seven assists in 37 games with the Devils.
He will be joined on defense by Garnet Exelby of Atlanta, Brooks Orpik of Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia’s Joni Pitkanen. Andrew Raycroft, who posted 15 wins and two shutouts in 33 games for Boston, will be in goal.
The remaining East forwards are 18-year-old Patrice Bergeron of Boston, Eric Staal of Carolina and Ryan Malone of Pittsburgh. That trio ranks third through fifth among rookie scorers behind Ryder and Hunter.
Bergeron is the game’s youngest player. Staal, Bouchard and Zherdev are the other teenagers at 19.
The teams, chosen by the NHL’s hockey operations department in consultation with general managers, will skate four-on-four for three 10-minute periods of running time. If the game is tied after regulation, a sudden-death shootout will determine the winner.
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