Of all the events of All-Star Weekend, one of the best is happening tonight when Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara take their turns picking teams for this weekend at the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft. Anything can happen and I know it'll be great to watch when the show comes on tonight at 8 ET (NBC Sports Network, TSN), but before we see what Alfie and Big Z do, I've got my own take on what will happen.
Here is what I would do with my first five picks if I were Alfredsson or Chara tonight.
I'm going to assume that Alfredsson wins the coin toss because he's the local boy with the game being at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. Now, I'm a big picture guy and I would want to do what's best for the NHL. If I'm Alfredsson and I'm the NHL, I want to work it so Alfredsson gets all the Senators on one team. I want the Sens fans to get to root for their guys together, so if I'm Alfredsson, I'm taking Erik Karlsson. I want that defenseman that can skate.
If I'm Chara, I could do what Eric Staal did last year and take my goalie with the first pick since Tim Thomas is out there; me, I don't care about goalies. They mean nothing in an All-Star Game. They all play only one period and they're just trying to get through it without being embarrassed. To me they're a second thought. A team has to pick its three goalies by the 10th round, so for me, I'm picking my starting five first. Let the other team waste high picks on goalies. I'm going after skaters. If I'm Chara, I'm taking Steven Stamkos, because few can score and skate like him.
If I'm Alfredsson, in the second round I've got to stick with my guys and I'm taking my teammate Jason Spezza. Now I've got two forwards and a defenseman as well as a goalie in my assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist. I'm on my way.
If I'm Chara, to go with Stamkos and my assistant captain Joffrey Lupul up front, I'm taking Phil Kessel. I want another flying forward and don't forget, Phil is still motivated about the All-Star Game after being embarrassed by being the last pick last year. I think he'll be fired up, and it's in Ottawa, which I think matters to a Toronto player.
My next pick as Alfredsson is Milan Michalek. Now I've got three forwards, a great skating defenseman and all of my Ottawa players on one team. Everyone in the stands can cheer for one team this way.
Now if I'm Chara and I can put another forward up top, I'm going with Henrik Sedin, a guy I can't imagine dropping any further than this. He's simply too good a playmaker to stay unpicked for long.
If I were Alfredsson, the next guy I would take is Dustin Byfuglien because I love a guy who plays with his size and does what he does, but with Big Buff injured I'll have to get a different physical defenseman. To fill that role I'm going to go with a big tough guy who can hit, and I'm taking Dion Phaneuf. Now I've got Alfredsson, Spezza and Michalek up front and Karlsson and Phaneuf at the back -- an all-Ontario team for a game in Ottawa.
If I'm Chara, I come back with Brian Campbell, so now I've got that skating defenseman alongside Chara. Chara's an offensive threat when he wants to be, but he doesn't lead the rush all the time. I want to give him that offensive defenseman that can do that, and that's Brian Campbell.
Fortunately, if I'm Alfredsson I've already got my buddy in the back with fellow Swede Lundqvist in net, a player who just happens to have been the best goalie in the League this year. With that, it's time to get the second line going, and I'm going to anchor it with one of the best centers you can find, and take Claude Giroux, a boy who grew up in Ontario, with my last pick.
As for Chara, with my last choice I'm going to fill out my team at the back and take my goalie, Tim Thomas.
That's the way the teams should work out. An event like this is all about the fans, it's about making everybody happy and I think this is what would make the most people happy. Tonight we'll get the chance to see how it all works out.