Rangers stars among first players selected to play in 2025 4 Nations Face-Off

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY SportsCredit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEAGS — Adam Fox has been selected to play for the United States and Mika Zibanejad has been selected to play for Sweden in the 2025 4 Nations Face-Off tournament. The New York Rangers stars were named as one of the first six players for their respective countries on Friday.

The new tournament involving Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States will replace the NHL All-Star Game next season. It features NHL stars representing their respective country, with games being played at Bell Centre in Montreal and TD Garden in Boston from Feb. 15-20.

In partnership with the NHLPA, the NHL will shut down to accommodate the best-on-best tournament. This sets the stage for NHL players to return to the Winter Olympics in 2026 in Turin, Italy, after missing the past two Olympics.

“We know how important international competition is to our players. We know how much they love and want to represent the countries from which they’re from, and we think this is a great stage for the best on best in what obviously we all believe is the best sport,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in February at NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

As a way to promote this tournament, each of the four countries taking part announced the first six players to their roster Friday.

Related: Rangers stars recognized at 2024 NHL Awards ceremony

Adam Fox, Mika Zibanejad of Rangers among first players named to play in 2025 4 Nations Face-Off

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Fox joins fellow defensemen Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins) and 2024 Norris Trophy winner Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks), and forwards Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jack Eichel (Vegas Golden Knights) and Matthew Tkachuk (Florida Panthers) as the first six players for the United States.

The 26-year-old Rangers defenseman has been a top-five finisher for the Norris Trophy five consecutive seasons. He won the award in 2020-21 and has 308 points (53 goals, 255 assists) in 357 NHL games.

Last season, Fox scored an NHL career-high 17 goals and finished with 73 points in 72 games.

Fox helped the United States win a gold medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship and a bronze medal at the 2018 WJC. He also represented the United States at the 2019 World Championship.

Zibanejad joins defenseman Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning), Erik Karlsson (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Gustav Forsling (Panthers), and forwards Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators) and William Nylander (Maple Leafs) as Sweden’s first six players.

The Rangers center represented Sweden most recently at the 2018 World Hockey Championship, when he helped his country win the gold medal. He also helped Sweden win gold at the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Zibanejad has 294 goals and 678 points in 848 NHL games with the Rangers and Ottawa Senators, The 31-year-old is a nine-time 20-goal scorer, who had an NHL career-high 41 goals in only 57 games with the Rangers in 2019-20.

Last season, Zibanejad had 26 goals and 72 points in 81 regular-season games and 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 16 postseason games.

No Rangers player was selected to Finland’s group of six announced Friday, though Kaapo Kakko is an option to be named later on. The 23-year-old, who’s rumored to be on the trading block, represented Finland at the World Championships in 2019 and 2023 and the WJC in 2019. He enjoyed the rare feat of winning gold twice in 2019 at the World Juniors then World Championship.

The first six players named for Finland were goalie Juuse Saros (Predators), forwards Aleksander Barkov (Panthers), Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes) and Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche), and defensemen Miro Heiskanen (Dallas Stars) and Esa Lindell (Stars).

Canada announced a who’ who of five star forwards among their first six players. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), 2024 Hart Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon (Avalanche), Brad Marchand (Bruins) and Brayden Point (Lightning) were named along with defenseman Cale Makar (Avalanche).

One would think that after breaking out in 2023-24, Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere will receive consideration to be selected at a later date if he puts together another strong season for the Rangers.

Since Russia is not one of the countries taking part in this tournament, Rangers stars Igor Shesterkin and Artemi Panarin will have a late-winter vacation next season.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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