There's nothing quite as fun as a fantasy draft. You spend weeks making cheat sheets, lists, figuring out who is due for a breakout season and who can be a steal in the late rounds.
But a fantasy draft where the players picked will actually perform for you on the ice? That's what the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover is all about.
Of the 42 players who will take part in the game, six (2 forwards, 1 defenseman per team) will be chosen as captains. They will then choose sides in an 18-round fantasy draft that will determine the teams for the All-Star Game.
There's never been anything like it.
For this fantasy draft done by NHL.com staff writers Dan Rosen and Dave Lozo, the rules are exactly the same. The first six picks were used to choose the players who would be selected as captains and alternates. In the real draft to be held Jan. 28 at the Raleigh Convention Center, the captains will be decided by the real players.
However, Dan and Dave used the first six picks of the draft to build their executive staff and then built their teams they way wanted, going by the same rules the actual captains will use -- all goalies must be taken by Round 10, all defensemen must be gone by Round 15.
Dave won the coin toss and chose first and wound up with Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Dustin Byfuglien. Rosen selected Nicklas Lidstrom, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.
Crosby and Ovechkin as teammates? You bet.
The magic of Stamkos and St. Louis staying together? Absolutely.
After that, it was time to start the draft with Dave having the first pick. Here is how they chose sides with some commentary from the writers about their picks.
Lozo -- Henrik Sedin (C)
The defending Hart Trophy winner is on pace for 108 points this season. His play-making magic and ability are made for the All-Star Game.
Rosen -- Daniel Sedin (W)
The hockey world has wanted to know what it would be like to have the twins on different sides, and here's their chance. Don't expect to see Daniel challenging his brother to a fight, but wouldn't it be awesome if he did?
Lozo -- Eric Staal (C)
Rosen ruined my plan to have the Sedins playing together. So I made a little reach here and passed on Nash to take the hometown kid, because no one will be more motivated to play well in Raleigh than Staal.
Rosen -- Rick Nash (W)
Lozo is going to leave me with the best power forward available, the same guy who three years ago in Atlanta could have won MVP honors. Fine by me. Nash thrives at the All-Star Game.
Lozo -- Kris Letang (D)
The slick, offensive defenseman was too good to pass up. I also didn't want to bunch up all my defensemen right before Round 15, so I locked up what I feel is the best available scoring blueliner.
Rosen -- Zdeno Chara (D)
So, my top two defensemen are Lidstrom and Chara. That's about enough in the explanation department for this selection. It speaks for itself. Plus, Chara will win me some points in the Honda SuperSkills competition with his shot.
Lozo -- Evgeni Malkin (C/W)
I would just like to see what a line of Crosby, Ovechkin and Malkin would do in a real game. I bet it's worth watching.
Rosen -- Tim Thomas (G)
Since I've got to have three goalies by the end of Round 10, I figured I better start with the guy who has been the best in the League all season. Thomas is also the most exciting goalie to watch, and we're going for style points, too.
Lozo -- Duncan Keith (D)
His numbers aren't as good as they were last season, but his smooth skating and vision are even more important in a virtual non-contact game filled with talent. He's also not too shabby defensively.
Rosen -- Jonathan Toews (C)
Until now Stamkos was my only center. I've got great wings in Daniel Sedin, St. Louis and Nash, but I needed another center. Toews is also pretty awesome in the shootout, which could help in the Saturday night skills competition.
Lozo -- Ryan Kesler (W)
How can I not grab a guy who only slightly off a 50-goal pace as basically my ninth pick? Could work well with Sedin.
Rosen -- Shea Weber (D)
We're already six rounds in and Lozo doesn't have a goalie yet, so I know he's going to have to make a run on them soon. This leaves me the ability to take one more skater and Weber gives me a D that can't be matched.
Lozo -- Jonas Hiller (G)
Finally grabbed a goalie here, and I figured who better to start an All-Star Game than the guy who is facing more shots per game than anyone in the NHL.
Rosen -- Marc-Andre Fleury (G)
I was hoping Hiller would slip one more spot so I can grab him. He's the hottest goalie in the League right now. But, I'll happily take Fleury. Considering Crosby, Malkin and Letang are on Lozo's team, I better get the goalie that knows them best.
Lozo -- Corey Perry (W)
He's big, he's tough, he can score. I figure if I have no choice about taking goalies with my next two picks, it makes sense to get a big winger here.
Rosen -- Brad Richards (C)
Probably could have gone with a goalie here and still gotten Richards in the next two rounds since Lozo has to pick goalies, but it's pretty hard to pass up on the leading scorer left on the board who just happens to be a center, too.
Lozo -- Cam Ward (G)
Another hometown pick. I also decided that after Hiller, I would treat goalies like kickers in fantasy football drafts and take them in the latest possible round.
Rosen -- Henrik Lundqvist (G)
Lozo is tugging at the heart strings of the Raleigh fanbase by going with Eric Staal and Cam Ward. Lundqvist in Round 9 works for me. Unlike Ward, Lundqvist has done the All-Star thing before and he won't be feeling pressure from the hometown fans.
Lozo -- Carey Price (G)
And that's how I wind up with Price here. There's not a lot of difference in the six goalies to me, so I'm OK with waiting to grab my last two until the end.
Rosen -- Dan Boyle (D)
My philosophy was to have four defensemen by the end of the 10th round because it frees me up to pick forwards with three of my next five picks. Boyle and Weber played together at the Olympics and I'll have them together again in Raleigh.
Lozo -- Mike Green (D)
I wanted Boyle, but got him stolen out from under me. A lot of the forwards left seem the same to me, but the dropoff from Green to the remaining two defensemen is steep.
Rosen -- Patrick Kane (W)
It was either Kane or Patrick Sharp, but I'm going for style points here and Kane will give me plenty. I already have Toews, so I figured getting his running mate would be apropos.
Lozo -- Patrick Sharp (W)
This pick gives me four of the top-six goal scorers in the NHL through Monday's games. I'd be up 11 goals after two periods if I was really playing Rosen's collection of players.
Rosen -- Marc Staal (D)
Lozo -- Tobias Enstrom (D)
This pick gives me three of the top-four point producers among defensemen through Monday's games. Maybe I'd be up 12 after two with this pick.
Rosen -- Anze Kopitar (C)
Again with the trash talk Lozo? We'll see how your collection fares against a team that is loaded down the middle like the one I'm putting together. This pick gives me a list of centers that includes Stamkos, Toews, Richards and Kopitar.
Lozo -- Loui Eriksson (W)
He's eighth in the League in scoring and is my ninth forward taken. This team could've done something special.
Rosen -- Matt Duchene (C)
Yet another pivot for me, Mr. Lozo. This pick gives me five guys for four center spots. Someone will have to move to the wing, but it's a heck of a lot easier to move to the side than slide into the middle. Duchene has 9 goals in his last 14 games.
Lozo -- Brent Burns (D)
Erik Karlsson in Round 15. I went with the guy with 12 goals because that's a lot for a defenseman after 40 games.
Rosen -- Erik Karlsson (D)
I had no choice here considering I need six D-men by the 15th round and he was the only one left. But, he's 20 years old and Karlsson has something to prove. He can do that at All-Star Weekend. Happy to have him.
Lozo -- Jarome Iginla (W)
He has 17 goals and 20 assists in 42 games with the Flames. Imagine what he could do with any of my centers dishing him the puck. Scary.
Rosen -- Claude Giroux (C/W)
One of your centers, Lozo? Who are you kidding? Giroux gives me six guys who can play the middle, but he's been on the wing for the Flyers and seems at home there with 16 goals, including 6 on the power play and 3 shorthanded.
Lozo -- Phil Kessel (W)
He's a top-20 goal scorer. You take what you can get in the penultimate round.
Rosen -- David Backes (W)
Backes will be my point person for the media, and that alone will give the team some excellent publicity. He's a quote machine this guy. Oh, and he's a pretty good hockey player, too. Backes has 31 points and a plus-13 rating.
Lozo -- Patrik Elias (W)
Nine goals and 21 assists aren't going to blow anyone away, but the fact he's done it on what is one of the lowest-scoring teams in recent history makes it a tad more impressive.
Rosen -- Ales Hemsky (W)
Mr. Irrelevant? Hardly. Hemsky has 24 points in 27 games this season and we expect that he'll have some extra bounce at All-Star Weekend considering he was the last pick of the draft.