The NHL is planning to expand on the participation of women's hockey players at the upcoming all-star game in St. Louis with a 3-on-3 scrimmage expected to take place, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan.
The players who will attend the all-star weekend are part of the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association and are now participating in the Dream Gap Tour where 200 of the top female hockey players in North America have been traveling across the continent to compete in a series of games.
The plan to hold the three-on-three game has been in the works for months, with as many as 24 players set to participate after the final rosters were being established late last week, two of the people told AP.
The NHL Stars Weekend will take place January 24-26 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
This isn't the first time the National Hockey League has invited top women's players to its All-Star weekend.
The NHL is expected to announce later this week more details, including a new element at the skills competition.
What's hard to gauge is what signal the NHL might be sending by having a number of the world's top female players sharing the spotlight when women's hockey is in a state of flux. Three members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Team - Dani Cameranesi, Kali Flanagan and Gigi Marvin - with three times medalist at the World Championships Annie Pankowski, will be added to the lists and will participate in real games and skills competition.
A majority of players, however, balked at making the jump to the NWHL and instead vowed to not play professionally in North America this season.
The addition of a women's three-on-three game is seen as the next step in the league's bid to promote women's hockey. The NHL now provides modest financial support to the NWHL.
The NHL isn't the only league hosting top women's players in it's All-Star event.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has previously said he would be interested in establishing a women's league under the NHL umbrella, but only if there are no existing North American alternatives.
NWHL founder and commissioner Dani Rylan has taken offense to the National Hockey League questioning its investor-backed business model.
This year, the three-on-three scrimmage will feature some of the world's highest-profile players representing their respective countries.