The 20-year-old has 20 points in 39 games this season, 11 of which are goals.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing and funny at the same time,” Girgensons said. “It came out of nowhere. I know people know me back home, but I didn’t think it was going to go that far. That’s like crazy far.”
Back home is Latvia, where a rip-roaring fanbase made Girgensons’ All-Star dreams a reality. The rabid Sabres fanbase helped, too, and his genuine personality has helped out a great deal.
Girgensons was selected 14th overall by the Sabres in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, becoming the highest drafted Latvian in history. He was always a projected first round pick, thanks to his play as the captain of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL. The buzz was so profound that the Sabres traded for the pick they’d use on Girgensons.
After the draft, Girgensons was set to play for the NCAA Vermont Catamounts. This changed after he signed a professional contract with Buffalo and attended camp. Following that, he skated the 2012-2013 season with the Rochester Americans in the AHL and began the following season in the big leagues with the Sabres.
In 70 games in the 2013-2014 NHL season, Girgensons had eight goals and tapped out with 14 assists.
Some traditionalists will obviously argue that a player like Girgensons is no All-Star, but that’s hardly relevant. The fans have spoken and he’s in, like it or not.
The NHL announced the top six vote-getters, in fact, and behind Girgensons were five members of the Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Corey Crawford made up the group. Kane was the next top vote-getter with 1,232,201 votes.
There were 35 million votes in total, which is up 52 percent from 2012’s voting. As we all remember, there was no All-Star Game in 2013 due to the lockout and 2014 was also without one thanks to the Olympics.
So when that puck drops on January 25 in Columbus, it’ll be one Zemgus Girgensons leading the way. At least for a little while.