LOS ANGELES — Linus Ullmark came to Boston hoping to raise his game.
As far as individual accolades go, he is now at the height of the puck-stopping profession.
Two seasons into a four-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Bruins, Ullmark is a first-time All-Star.
The NHL revealed the first 32 selections for the Feb. 3-4 All-Star Weekend on Thursday, one pick from each club. The 29-year-old Swedish netminder will carry the Spoked-B flag.
Ullmark’s former Sabres teammate, Tage Thompson, is the other first-time All-Star among the first batch of Atlantic selections. The rest of that squad includes the Tkachuk brothers, Brady (Ottawa) and Matthew (Florida); Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay); Dylan Larkin (Detroit); Mitch Marner (Toronto); and Nick Suzuki (Montreal).
The Metropolitan team, so far, is Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Johnny Gaudreau (Columbus), Jack Hughes (New Jersey) and first-timers Kevin Hayes of Dorchester, Mass. (Philadelphia), Brock Nelson (N.Y. Islanders), Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina), and Igor Shesterkin (N.Y. Rangers).
In the Western Conference, the Central Division team, so far, is Cale Makar (Colorado), Jason Robertson (Dallas), Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota), Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis), Clayton Keller (Arizona), Seth Jones (Chicago), Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg), and Juuse Saros (Nashville). And the Pacific Division team is Logan Thompson (Las Vegas), Connor McDavid (Edmonton), Matty Beniers (Seattle), Troy Terry (Anaheim), Kevin Fiala (Los Angeles), Nazem Kadri (Calgary), Elias Pettersson (Vancouver), and Erik Karlsson (San Jose).
Additionally, Bruins coach Jim Montgomery will represent the Atlantic Division as a first-time All-Star head coach.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Ullmark said before the Bruins faced the Kings. “I remember watching it when I was young, as well. It was one of the few things we actually taped when I was younger, to watch Peter Forsberg, Nick Lidstrom, Joe Sakic, those guys when they played in the All-Star Game. It was always fun watching it. It’s a little surreal to be here now.”
Growing up in Lugnvik, Sweden, Ullmark recalled that his goal was to play for the local club team. Making it to the NHL felt like another galaxy.
Asked how he improved his game to this point, Ullmark pointed to the team in front of him.
“Sometimes it’s been me bailing them out,” he said, “but a lot of times they’ve bailed me out, multiple times. You’ve got to have that, a couple bounces with you. There’s small things in the game of hockey that, if it goes your way, you’re lucky enough to be on the winning side.”
A sixth-round pick of the Sabres in 2012, Ullmark he played in 117 games over six seasons with the Sabres (50-47-13, 2.78, .912). He had more head coaches (four) and general managers (three) than playoff appearances (zero).
In Boston this season, Ullmark’s stats are best in the league — a 21-1-1 record, 1.86 goals-against average, and .939 save percentage — and the best of his eight-year career.
“It’s a no-brainer,” center Charlie Coyle said. “He’s given us more than a great chance every night.”
Ullmark was chosen by the NHL’s hockey operations department, which chose four goaltenders (one from each division) among the first 32. Whether David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm, Patrice Bergeron, or other Bruins join him for All-Star Weekend in Sunrise, Fla., depends on the hockey-watching public.
Fans will vote for the rest of the players. The league will count votes at NHL.com and on Twitter.
This is different from last season, when fans voted for four division team captains, NHL hockey ops filled in the blanks, then fans nominated for four “last men in.”
On Thursday, the NHL opened voting for fans to select the final 12 players — two skaters and one goalie from each division — for All-Star Weekend.
The fan vote runs from 9 p.m. Thursday through Jan. 17 at NHL.com. According to a league executive, the online voting booth will be available in eight languages: English, French, Czech, Finnish, German, Slovak, Spanish, and Swedish.
Online votes will be melded with Twitter data, the latter of which includes mentions of a player’s name or Twitter handle with #NHLAllStarVote. Retweets, replies or quote tweets also count, as long as that hashtag is included.
Twitter votes will be tabulated from 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 12 through 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 14, then blended with the NHL.com vote.
The dozen players voted in by fans are expected to be announced on Jan. 19.
As for the coaches, the Bruins’ run atop the Atlantic Division makes Montgomery a first-time All-Star. The coaches will be selected Jan. 11, from the division leaders in points percentage at the end of that night’s games.
With 62 points entering Thursday (29-4-4), the Bruins have that locked up. Toronto (23-8-7) had four games from Thursday to Jan. 11, but it wouldn’t be able to catch Boston.
Montgomery will be happy to give the net to Ullmark.
“I know there are other goalies who are having great years, but I think he’s having the greatest year,” Montgomery said before Thursday’s puck drop. “His impact to our consistent success has been immeasurable.”
The Bruins have been sound in net for years, going back to Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas. Montgomery didn’t change much of Bruce Cassidy’s defensive system, which his predecessor adapted from Claude Julien’s foundation. Ullmark’s performance this season, Montgomery said, is not solely about the sound structure in front of him.
“I don’t think he’s had to carry the team the entire year,” Montgomery said. “The first 20 games he was unreal at making the big save at the appropriate moment, because I thought we were more in control of games back then. In his last maybe five to seven starts he’s been the difference.”
Matt Porter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.