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Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson named to 2018 NHL All-Star team

Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) shields Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the puck in the third period during an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec 16, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Pittsburgh defeated Arizona 4-2. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will represent the Arizona Coyotes at the 2018 NHL All-Star game on Jan. 28, his second career All-Star appearance.

Ekman-Larsson has recorded 19 points — six goals and 13 assists — in 43 games so far this season.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I still think I can play better hockey, but at the same time, it means that I’m doing something good and people like what they see. I love this team and I love everything about the Coyotes, so I’m happy to be the guy who goes to the All-Star Game and hopefully I don’t get to embarrass myself out there.”

The Coyotes veteran earned the All-Star nod over rookie forward Clayton Keller, the team leader with 32 points. Keller was the Coyotes’ first-round pick who went seventh in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Ekman-Larsson follows goalie Mike Smith (2017) as the most recent Arizona player to appear in the All-Star game.

In 2016, winger John Scott was voted into the All-Star game as a Coyote but before the game was traded to the Montreal Canadiens — the NHL allowed him to play in the All-Star game, leaving Arizona without a representative in the contest.

Ekman-Larsson earned his first All-Star nod in 2015.

“I was super nervous,” Ekman-Larsson said of his first All-Star appearance. “Being around all the superstars, stuff like that. This time, I’m probably not going to be that nervous but it’s still going to be a lot of fun and just to get the chance to know some other players and be around them for a couple days, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

This year’s All-Star Game will be the third year for the league’s 3-on-3 format, in which four separate All-Star teams will compete in a tournament of three 20-minute games. This year’s captain for the team representing the Coyotes’ Pacific Division is the Oilers’ Connor McDavid, while the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and Predators’ P.K. Subban round out the All-Star captains.

98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Matt Layman contributed to this report.

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