Badgers in the NHL: Three All-Star Selections

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues observes the National Anthem prior to playing against the Calgary Flames at the Scottrade Center on November 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The University of Wisconsin has long been known as one of the top development paths on the way to the National Hockey League. Guys like Chris Chelios, Mike Richter, and Scott Mellanby have carried the torch of famous alumi in the league.

That torch continues to burn brightly.

It was announced on Thursday afternoon that the Wisconsin hockey program will once again be well represented at the NHL All-Star game. Former Badgers Brian Elliott (St. Louis Blues), and Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators) have been chosen for the 2012 Tim Horton's NHL All-Star Game.

Additionally, rookie Craig Smith (Nashville Predators) has been chosen along with 11 other rookies to participate in the All-Star skills competition.

Elliott is enjoying the best year of his professional career after being written off by almost everyone in the NHL. The former NCAA National Champion signed with the Blues this off-season on a two way contract. It wasn't even guarenteed that he'd make the team out training camp.

Now he's an NHL All-Star.

Elliott, who carries a 15-5 record with St. Louis this season is second in the league in goals against average (1.62), and save percentage (.940). If you're not familiar with goaltending numbers, those are absolutely SILLY good. Those numbers would be outstanding at any level. Elliott is putting them up in the best league in the world.

Suter, who was a member of the same 2003 recruiting class at Wisconsin with Elliott is also making his first NHL All-Star appearance. An impending free agent this summer, Suter is set up to sign a monster contract. The 26 year old defenseman has recorded five goals and 20 assists for 25 points in 42 games this season for the Preds. The Madison native is also second on the club in the +/- category at a +8.

Smith, a 22 year old rookie who at this time last season was your top line center for the Badgers has burst onto the NHL scene without looking back. A kid who many didn't even expect to make the team out of training camp is third on the Nashville roster in total points with 26 in 42 games (9G, 17A). Smith is also third in the league in rookie scoring, trailing only Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers) and Adam Henrique (New Jersey Devils).

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For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Chuck on Twitter (@UWChuckSchwartz)

Chuck can also be reached via e-mail at chuckschwartz@live.com

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