Hanifin chosen for NHL All-Star Weekend

20-year-old defenseman will make his first appearance at midseason showcase of the NHL's best players

Lightning center Steven Stamkos skates with the puck as Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin defends during the first period at Amalie Arena on Tuesday. (Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports)

For the fourth straight year, a defenseman will be the lone representative for the Hurricanes at NHL All-Star Weekend. But unlike the last three years, it won’t be Justin Faulk.

Noah Hanifin found out Wednesday he is headed to Tampa Bay just days after his 21st birthday, with the All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, Jan. 27, followed the All-Star Game the next day.

Hanifin will play for the Metropolitan Division coached by Washington’s Barry Trotz and joins the Islanders’ Josh Bailey as the only first-time All-Star on the Metro team.

Hanifin, in his third professional season out of Boston College, leads the Hurricanes defense in goals (seven), assists (14) and points (21), and has already set a career high for goals and is on pace to shatter his previous mark of 29 points set last season.

Hanifin was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft and has played more NHL games than any player from the class. Only fellow 2018 All-Stars Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, also both 20, are younger than Hanifin among this year’s All-Star participants.

Hanifin (6-foot-3, 206 pounds) is part of one of the best young blue lines in hockey, but has been overshadowed at times by fellow Hurricanes Faulk, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. Slavin and Pesce were recalled early in the 2015-16 season after Hanifin made the team out of training camp and have already received long-term contract extensions that will kick in next season.

Hanifin’s All-Star selection will certainly serve as a bargaining chip for him in negotiations for his new deal. Last offseason, Slavin received a seven-year contract worth $37.1 million (an average of $5.3 million a season), while Pesce’s six-year extension pays him $4.025 million a season.