Now before I dive into this blog post, you should know that I am not a fan of the All-Star game, nor this new way of drafting players. So there may or may not be some All-Star game/draft bashing included in this blog. So last night was the 2nd annual All-Star fantasy player draft, a new concept the NHL came up with to help keep the fans interest in the All-Star game.
Here's what we learned from the 2nd annual All-Star draft; many NHL players need a translator as their English is atrocious. The Toronto/Ottawa rivalry is alive as ever; as each time Toronto Maple Leafs forward and assistant captain for the All-Star Game Joffrey Lupul went to make his selection, he was welcomed with a chorus of boo's. Not to mention the "Leafs Suck" chants that broke out. The fact that a stupid and hopefully drunk fan yelled out "pick Wade Belak", really was disgusting and classless. Ottawa Senator Jason Spezza, literally never stops talking and should seriously consider a career in TV, you know if this whole "hockey player" thing doesn't work out for him. That A rivalriy can not be forgotten for even one night; Zdeno Chara did not pick a Vancouver Canuck, instead picking his two Bruin teammates; Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin. While Daniel Alfredsson didn't pick any Leaf players, instead opting to pick his Senators teammates; Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, and Eric Karlsson.
Surprises; The first major surprise came right off the bat, with the first overall pick; Chara won the puck flip and was awarded first pick, and instead of selecting teammate Tim Thomas, he choose the veteran Pavel Datsyuk. Now people are saying this shouldn't be a surprise for people, as Datsyuk is one of the most respected players in the league, noted for playing the game the right way. It was clear that both captains had Datsyuk in mind, as Alfredsson even commented on how worthy Datsyuk was to have gone first. But to me it came as a surprise, Datsyuk wasn't even on my radar for the number 1 pick; I thought Thomas or Malkin, or Stamkos would have been first. But Datsyuk as good and respected as he is, is one of those players that fly under the radar, when you think of the best players in the league you automatically say Ovechkin or Crosby (ironically neither were present at this years all-star festivities). But Datsyuk is always near the top in points, has won 2 Frank Selke trophies, 4 Lady Byng trophies, a Khalamov trophy and 2 Stanley Cups. So Props to Chara for thinking outside the box with his first overall pick and not wasting it, I couldn't think of a player who deserves the honour more.
Second surprise was Steven Stamkos didn't get picked in the top 10! I'm sorry But in what world do you let Steven Stamkos slide out of the top 10. The kid is natural goal scorer, a solid guy and a former 1st overall pick! Not to mention he's leading the league with 32 goals, I can see you skipping out on him 3 or 4 times but I literally didn't see this one coming. I understand the hometown and country biasis, but I'm dumbfounded by Stamkos going so low. I expect him to respond by having an amazing All-Star game; not that it matters!
How about Jimmy Howard being the last goaltender picked! Howard is well on his way to having a career year with the Red Wings. If going 30-11-1 with a 92.4 save percentage is what get's you taken last of the 6 all-star goalies, I'd hate to see what stats you'd need to go first, maybe a goal? Oh yeah the guy who got credit for a goal wasn't invited! Howard was even selected behind the struggling Carey Price who is having a season to forget; 17-17-8 with a 91.4 save percentage. This was pretty much a slap in the face for Jimmy Howard. Hopefully much like Phil Kessel did, Howard can use this as motivation and continue dominating the league, win a Stanley cup, invite Price to the party and ask if he wants a picture with the cup, since he'll never actually win one himself.
Marian Gaborik another highly skilled forward fails to crack the top 10, heck Gaborik failed to crack the top 20! Gaborik went 31st overall, and his own teammate was an assistant captain for team Alferdsson, talk about a slap in the face! Even Lupul protested his boy Phil Kessel. Gaborik is 6th in the league in scoring with 25 goals and 39 points, pretty decent numbers, considering his own teammate Henrik Lundqvist wouldn't stand up for him, expect Gaborik to pot a few past his teammate during the game. Not to mention after being picked by team Chara, Gaborik went to the wrong team, he got his jersey and went to the Team Alfredsson side by mistake. He said he just wanted to keep things interesting.
It appeared that neither team really wanted to pick the Sedin twins, Chara basically made it clear that no Canuck players would be on his roster, so it was almost a done deal that Alfredsson would receive the last two Art Ross winners, but boy did the twins have to wait! Daniel Sedin was taken 18th overall by Alfredsson while brother Henrik had to wait till the 26th pick. As expected both Sedins ended up on Alfredsson's team; could we see a Sedin-Alfredsson-Sedin line come Sunday?
Selecting Seguin late was a bit of a surprise, but also a very stratigic logical move by Chara; despite letting his teammate wait until the final 4, it allowed Chara to take some of the players he wanted, knowing that Alfredsson wouldn't snatch up Seguin. Now all be it Seguin didn't exactly deserve his fate, with the amazing numbers he's put up; 43 points in 46 games and a +34. So it worked out perfectly for Chara, he played Alfredsson perfectly, snatching up some of the other players he wanted and still getting his teammate. The two even hugged it out at the end.
I was very happy to see that Alfredsson saved Jason Pominville from being one of the last picks. It was well documented that Pominville didn't have any friends with either captain or their assistants, so we new he was unlikely to get picked very high. And indeed Pominville was made to wait till the final 4, and ended up being the 3rd last pick in the draft, by Alfredsson. I was very impressed with the pre-pick speech given by Alfredsson, saying that "he had a lot of respect for Pominville". I had a feeling Pominville would be last or second last, not because he deserved it but rather because he had no rather neutural allias. But Alfredsson spared Pominville and the Sabres from once again being the laughingstock of the league.
San Jose Shark Forward Logan Couture had the honour of being the last pick, and winning a brand new car! (although the could have come up with a better car, than a soccer moms car). But Couture handled it with class. "I had fun with it, you can't take it personally" was Couture's response. Good on the kid, following Phil Kessel's model of not caring. It's a joke and something "fun" it sucks for the last player, but it's nothing serious and you really can't dwell on it. Couture will also get to donate $20,000 to a charity of his choice; "Being a young guy here for the first time, playing on the West Coast, it was something I knew was a possibility. I just wanted to have a good time with it, and I did." Good on Couture for not being upset, or having his ego bruised! It's more than a little ridicoulous the way the NHL has set it up, having 2 captains, that can and will pick teammates and their favorite players first, leaving one player the last man standing to be made a mockery and bunt of all jokes for the next year. I know it's something the fans suppossodely like and brings more interaction and interest, but I'm not a fan of it.
But the teams are set, we saw the first and last picks, now all thats left to determine is who will come out on top after Sunday's game. Will not having Ovechkin or Crosby at the game effect the ratings?
We can only watch and see! Good luck to both teams!
Here's a complete list of the rostors;
- Joffrey Lupul (A), RW, Maple Leafs
- 1. Pavel Datsyuk, C, Red Wings
- 2. Tim Thomas, G, Bruins
- 3. Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins
- 4. Marian Hossa, RW, Blackhawks
- 5. Kimmo Timonen, D, Flyers
- 6. Corey Perry, RW, Ducks
- 7. Carey Price, G, Canadiens
- 8. Phil Kessel, RW, Maple Leafs
- 9. Ryan Suter, D, Predators
- 10. Jimmy Howard, G, Red Wings
- 11. Brian Campbell, D, Panthers
- 12. Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks
- 13. Dion Phaneuf, D, Maple Leafs
- 14. Jarome Iginla, RW, Flames
- 15. Dennis Wideman, D, Capitals
- 16. Marian Gaborik, RW, Rangers
- 17. Jordan Eberle, RW, Oilers
- 18. Tyler Seguin, C, Bruins
- 19. Jamie Benn, LW, Stars