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Blackhawks' Kane 1 of 16 rookies heading to NHL YoungStars competition

NEW YORK - Rookie scoring leader Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks topped a list of 16 newcomers invited Tuesday to NHL all-star weekend, this time to compete in a 3-on-3 competition instead of the traditional YoungStars game.

Kane, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, leads all rookies with 40 points in his first 45 NHL games. He, along with seven other Western Conference rookies, will take on eight from the East.

Joining him up front for the West are former London Knights teammate Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers, Peter Mueller of the Phoenix Coyotes and David Perron of St. Louis. The defencemen are Alexander Edler of the Vancouver Canucks, Erik Johnson of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Johnson of the L.A. Kings and Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars.

Kane was the rookie of the month for October when he put up 16 points, the most by a rookie in 15 years.

Headlining the East defencemen is Tobias Enstrom of the host Atlanta Thrashers. He wasn't selected by Atlanta until the eighth round of the 2003 draft, but he has gone on to lead rookies this season in ice time (24 minutes four seconds), was tied for second in assists (23) and ranked fourth in points (26) entering Tuesday's games. He was the NHL rookie of the month in November.

The other East defencemen are Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mike Lundin of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Marc Staal of the New York Rangers. The forwards are Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals, Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers, Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy and Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins.

The 3-on-3 event will be held on Jan. 26 as part of the SuperSkills competition on the eve of the all-star game in Atlanta. The YoungStars will shoot against all-star goalies. Each rookie team will have four forwards and four defencemen.

All 16 players were chosen by the NHL's hockey operations department in consultation with the league's 30 general managers.


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