This weekend is the NHL’s annual All-Star Weekend. For Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell it is also his first trip to the All-Star game. Rakell had a breakthrough season in 2015-16 and hasn’t looked back since.
First Time All-Star Rickard Rackell
The Ducks drafted Rakell in the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft, 30th overall. Its taken some time to develop, but Rakell earned his spot as an All-Star. In the 2015-16 season, he put together hi first 20 goal campaign. He alos added 23 assists for 43 points that season, while only having 19 penalty minutes in 72 games. The following year, he got a late start to the season due to contract negotiations. He wasted no time after signing a six-year $22.8 million contract extension. Rakell made his season debut against the cross-town rival Los Angeles Kings. He hit the ground running, scoring a goal and two assists in the game. It was just the start.
In 71 games Rakell lead the Ducks in goals with 33. He added 18 assists and 12 penalty minutes. He earned a spot on the top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, until the arrival of Patrick Eaves. He was a massive part of the Ducks push into the playoffs and taking the fifth consecutive Pacific Division championship. As the Ducks made their way deeper into the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, Rakell may have scored the most important goal of his career to date. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinal, Rakell scored the tying goal in one of the most amazing comebacks in Stanley Cup playoff history. The Comeback on Katella is the stuff sports fans dream about.
The 2017-18 season
Rakell started the season on the top line again. This year he has a team-leading 18 goals. He added 18 assists to lead the Ducks in overall points with 36. He was selected as the sole representative for the Ducks in the all-star game. Even with as big of a personal honor as it was to earn his spot in the mid-season classic, he found a way to spread that joy.
The 21st Duck
Katie Hawley, 17-year-old die hard Ducks fan who also happens to have cancer has been the honorary 21st Duck this year. She was diagnosed at age 9. Since then she has endured numerous surgeries and rounds of chemo. Katie had the chance to skate out with the Ducks on opening night against the Arizona Coyotes. As a huge Rakell fan she requested that her favorite player score a goal. He did. The game-winning goal.
After his invitation to the all-star game, Rakell extended invitation to Katie to accompany him to Tampa.
Looking forward to showing you all the fun from Florida this weekend. pic.twitter.com/fKolUIpXT7
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) January 24, 2018
As the Ducks prepare to head into the all-star break, they have one more game. They face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night, after which Rakell and Katie will head to Tampa Bay. Rickard Rakell will be an amazing addition to the Pacific Division team. The All-Star game will take this weekend, the skills challenge on Saturday and the games on Sunday.