A few days ago, it was announced that Syracuse Crunch/Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov would not be participating in the American Hockey League All-Star game due to his current call up with Tampa Bay. Nesterov was supposed to playing alongside forward Vladislav Namestnikov, who also got a nod for the Crunch. It wasn't known at the time who the league was going to pick to replace Nesterov, especially since roster replacements don't have to come from the same team.
Even though Nesterov is a defenseman, news broke this afternoon that the Crunch would be sending a forward instead as their second player at the league's All-Star event: Jonathan Marchessault. From the team's official release:
Marchessault, 24, leads the Crunch with 36 points (10g, 26a) in 39 games, tied for fifth in the league. This is the third time in his four-year career that Marchessault has been honored with an AHL All-Star selection. Marchessault has seven multi-point games on the campaign and has points in 27 of his 39 games. He recorded a point in eight straight games, Nov. 1-19, capped by a three-game goal streak.
Through 266 AHL games, the Quebec native has 233 points (78g, 145a) with Connecticut, Springfield and Syracuse. In Calder Cup play, Marchessault has seven points (4g, 3a) in 17 games. Marchessault, undrafted, was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets March 5, 2014.
Marchessault is arguably one of the most deserved players on the roster to get a replacement spot. He's been a steady rock for Syracuse's top line all season, and hasn't once been ruffled by the coming and goings of the players around him. Many were surprised he wasn't nominated the first time around.
It was also announced that Namestnikov has been voted by the fans of the league as a starter for the Eastern Conference's All-Star team. The starting lines for both conferences are as follows:
G - Anton Forsberg, Springfield
D - Austin Madaisky, Springfield
D - Derrick Pouliot, W-B/Scranton
F - Chris Bourque, Hartford
F - Tom Kostopoulos, W-B/Scranton
F - Vladislav Namestnikov, Syracuse
G - Jacob Markstrom, Utica
D - T.J. Brennan, Rockford
D - Bobby Sanguinetti, Utica
F - Connor Brown, Toronto
F - Cal O'Reilly, Utica
F - Teemu Pulkkinen, Grand Rapids
The 2015 AHL All-Star Classic is taking place in Utica, N.Y. next week. The All-Star Skills Competition is at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25 and the All-Star Game is at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26.