Center Matty Beniers will be held out of the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla. due to injury and will be replaced by forward Chandler Stephenson of the Vegas Golden Knights, the league announced on Monday.
The development is a disappointing turn for those looking forward to seeing Beniers, 20, the league’s leading scorer among rookies, play in the annual mid-season classic on the nationally televised stage. He would have been the youngest player to skate in the All-Star Game since Quinn Hughes of the Canucks, three years ago in St. Louis.
Beniers has missed the last two games after an injury suffered in a Jan. 25 win over the Canucks, when he took a blind hit by Vancouver defenseman Tyler Myers, well away from the puck. He fell to the ice, hitting his head, and would not return for the third period.
Myers, who has disciplinary history, was issued a two-minute interference penalty, but no further supplementary discipline by the league office.
Beniers, tied for third on the Kraken with 36 points in 47 games, is currently listed as day-to-day with his recovery.
With Beniers out, no Kraken players are currently scheduled to play in the game. Andre Burakovsky and Vince Dunn were both nominations for a league-driven fan vote, in the mix to attend but failed to receive sufficient votes as selections. Jared McCann was one to consider as a replacement, leading the Kraken with 23 goals in 46 games and on pace to hit the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career.
Instead, the Kraken as a whole are currently in the middle of a nine-day break, which will end Feb. 7 to start a five-game road trip against the New York Islanders. Kraken general manager Ron Francis confirmed via text message with 93.3 KJR-FM that another Kraken player was offered to participate, but declined to play. Numerous Kraken players also made vacation plans in accordance with the league-mandated bye, which started for the team on Sunday.
As one of the league’s most intriguing turnaround stories as a second year team, the Kraken entered the break at first place in the Pacific Division, riding an 11-3-1 record in the month of January. That record came amidst a crunched schedule with 15 games in 28 days.
The NHL All-Star Game will start at Noon PT on Saturday, Feb. 4 at FLA Live Arena, home of the Florida Panthers.