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Lightning will have four players in NHL All-Star Game in Tampa

Victor Hedman joins Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy for Jan. 27 classic in Tampa.

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman always hoped he'd make his second NHL All-Star Game appearance this season, especially because it's in Tampa on Jan. 27.

But with an unfavorable roster format, and three Lightning teammates already locks for the 10-member Atlantic Division team – Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy – Hedman didn't know if he'd make it.

"I wasn't really having high expectations," Hedman said. "There's a lot of guys that are really deserving on our team."

That's why Hedman was so excited that he'll join his three teammates – Stamkos, Kucherov and Vasilevskiy – in All-Star weekend. This is the most all stars the Lightning has ever sent. And it's not surprising that the Lightning (31-9-3), which boasts the league's best record, has the league's most all-stars. Plus coach Jon Cooper behind the bench for the Atlantic.

They could field an entire 3-on-3 team with Lightning players, with Vasilevskiy in net.

"I hope so," Hedman said. "It'd be pretty cool. It could be a good lineup, and very special for us to have that opportunity."

Stamkos was named captain of the Atlantic All-Star team last week. Cooper was announced coach a few days later. Kucherov, tied for the league-lead with 27 goals, was a no-brainer among the Atlantic's six forwards.

But for Vasilevskiy, who leads the league in all major goalie statistics, it his is first one.

"He was a lock in my opinion," Hedman said. "He's been arguably the top goaltender in the league this year. If it was not for  him, I don't know where we'd be in the standings or how we would have finished. He's won so many games for us.

"That was not a surprise, in my eyes, that he got picked for his first one. Without a doubt it won't be his last one."

2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game Rosters

Atlantic Division (All-Star appearance)
F    Aleksander Barkov, FLA (1st)
F    Jack Eichel, BUF (1st)
F    Nikita Kucherov, TBL (2nd)
F    Brad Marchand, BOS (2nd)
F    Auston Matthews, TOR (2nd)
F    Steven Stamkos, TBL* (5th)
D    Mike Green, DET (2nd)
D    Victor Hedman, TBL (2nd)
D    Erik Karlsson, OTT (5th)
G    Carey Price, MTL (6th)
G    Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL (1st)
Head Coach: Jon Cooper, TBL (1st)

Metropolitan Division (All-Star appearance)
F    Josh Bailey, NYI (1st)
F    Sidney Crosby, PIT (3rd)
F    Claude Giroux, PHI (5th)
F    Taylor Hall, NJD (3rd)
F    Alex Ovechkin, WSH* (7th)
F    John Tavares, NYI (5th)
D    Noah Hanifin, CAR (1st)
D    Seth Jones, CBJ (2nd)
D    Kris Letang, PIT (4th)
G    Braden Holtby, WSH (3rd)
G    Henrik Lundqvist, NYR (4th)
Head Coach: Barry Trotz, WSH (3rd)

Central Division (All-Star appearance)
F    Patrick Kane, CHI (7th)
F    Nathan MacKinnon, COL (2nd)
F    Brayden Schenn, STL (1st)
F    Tyler Seguin, DAL (5th)
F    Eric Staal, MIN (5th)
F    Blake Wheeler, WPG (1st)
D    John Klingberg, DAL (1st)
D    Alex Pietrangelo, STL (1st)
D    P.K. Subban, NSH* (3rd)
G    Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (1st)
G    Pekka Rinne, NSH (2nd)
Head Coach: Peter Laviolette, NSH (3rd)

Pacific Division (All-Star appearance)
F    Brock Boeser, VAN (1st)
F    Johnny Gaudreau, CGY (4th)
F    Anze Kopitar, LAK (4th)
F    Connor McDavid, EDM* (2nd)
F    James Neal, VGK (3rd)
F    Rickard Rakell, ANA (1st)
D    Brent Burns, SJS (5th)
D    Drew Doughty, LAK (4th)
D    Oliver Ekman-Larsson, ARI (2nd)
G    Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK (3rd)
G    Jonathan Quick, LAK (3rd)
Head Coach: Gerard Gallant, VGK (2nd)