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Top pick in draft puts Blue Jackets together for game

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 11:01 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The fate of Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen was decided when teammate Nick Foligno, captain of Team Foligno, won the puck toss for the first selection of the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings.

That left no chance for Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, leader of Team Toews, to swoop in and steal Johansen in front of the hometown fans at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Friday.

True to his words to the media beforehand, Foligno made Johansen the top pick in a reunion of linemates with the Blue Jackets for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"[Johansen] had to be my first pick," Foligno said. "He's a guy who's battled with me all year long so I wanted to make sure he was first."

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Laughs, first-ever trade make for exciting All-Star draft

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 10:59 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- NHL All-Star Weekend is a celebration of hockey and it is supposed to be fun.

The rosters for Team Foligno and Team Toews were selected Friday night during the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft, but the jokes and the entertainment stole the show.

Laughs were the soundtrack as Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews selected teams for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports) and 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"It was really fun. I was nervous going into it, but I had a great time with it," Foligno said. "The guys made it really easy. The personalities really came out. It was a lot of fun."

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Ovechkin has fun trying for new car at All-Star draft

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 10:48 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin stole the show Friday with his pleas to be the last pick in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings so he could leave with a new car. His all-star peers got a kick out of watching Ovechkin's comedy act, but in the end, they got the last laugh.

"He wanted the car, but it seems like he always gets exactly what he wants, whether it's goals or Rocket Richard [Trophies]," said Rick Nash, an alternate captain for Team Toews. "The captains had a plan for that."

Ovechkin was selected by Team Foligno with the third-to-last pick.

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Jackets' Johansen top pick at All-Star Fantasy Draft

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 10:26 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL Public Relations

Forward Ryan Johansen of the All-Star host Columbus Blue Jackets was the first overall selection at the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft™ presented by DraftKings, conducted at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft™ presented by DraftKings divided the All-Stars and rookies into two teams for the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Columbus, Jan. 23-25: Team Foligno, led by captain Nick Foligno of the All-Star host Blue Jackets along with assistant captains Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) and Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks); and Team Toews, featuring captain Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks with assistant captains Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Rick Nash (New York Rangers).

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Blues goalie Elliott ends vacation for All-Star shot

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 9:52 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott was snorkeling with his wife, Amanda, off the coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Thursday. Twenty-four hours later they were on their way to Columbus, by way of St. Louis so they could pick up some clothes and Elliott his gear.

Elliott's all-star vacation was supposed to last until Saturday; he cut it a day short because being part of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend was too important to him and too big of an opportunity to pass up.

"From a young age being a goalie, whenever I got a chance to go on the ice, I always said, 'Yes,'" Elliott told NHL.com during a phone interview Friday night before he boarded his flight from St. Louis to Columbus. "That's usually what happened in the summertime. I'd play a game and the next team would say they were missing a goalie and (ask) would I play. I always said, 'Yes.'

"With an honor like this, you can't turn it down. That honor doesn't get taken lightly and that's why I wanted to say yes and come as quickly as I could. It's just awesome to be able to do it."


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2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft commentary

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 9:36 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

COLUMBUS -- The 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings was held Friday, and captains Nick Foligno of the hometown Columbus Blue Jackets and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks shaped their teams for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBSN, CBC, TVA Sports) by picking the players they feel can lead them to victory, or just pick their buddies.

NHL.com's live Fantasy Draft blog followed where your favorite player was chosen, and be sure to check out the official rosters page.

Team Foligno got the first pick after winning the puck toss, and Foligno made the hometown crowd happy by picking Blue Jackets teammate and linemate Ryan Johansen.

"We really enjoy playing together," Foligno said.

Team Toews, instead of following Foligno's lead and taking one of his three available Blackhawks teammates who are in Columbus, decided to right a previous wrong.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who was the last pick at the first All-Star Fantasy Draft in Carolina in 2011, was a first-round pick this time.

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All-stars find it 'fun to hang out with' competition

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 8:59 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- Patrik Elias was surveying the room Friday, watching players mingle and talk with each other behind the stage at the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings. He recognized almost all of them, but admitted there were a few faces he couldn't place with the name, in particular Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons.

Forgive Elias. At 38, the New Jersey Devils forward is the oldest player participating in the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad wasn't born when Elias made his NHL debut for the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 7, 1995. Ekblad was 4 years old when Elias won the Stanley Cup for the first time.

"There are so many young players here," Elias said. "Good for them."

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NHL Fan Fair attracts all kinds of allegiances

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 6:31 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- Where else but the 2015 NHL Fan Fair could fans of so many teams wearing so many hockey sweaters co-exist?

Thousands of (peaceful) fans flocked to the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Friday, the first of three days for the festival in conjunction with the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports), creating a rainbow of colors.

In an unscientific survey of the crowd over a 45-minute period, at least 20 NHL teams were represented in a variety of old and new styles. The host Columbus Blue Jackets led the way but there was a large presence of Pittsburgh Penguins fans.

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Nash, Voracek return to city where NHL careers began

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 4:36 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- There are two players who were drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets and have more than 300 career NHL points, and each is in the city this weekend for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

Rick Nash is widely acknowledged as the best player in team history. Selected No. 1 in the 2002 NHL Draft, he became the first franchise player for the precocious organization, and the team's best player for nearly a decade before being traded to the New York Rangers.

Jakub Voracek was the first pick by the Blue Jackets in 2007, the year the NHL Draft was held in Columbus. After being selected seventh overall, Voracek began to develop into a solid player, but he didn't become a star until after the Blue Jackets traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers as part of a package for Jeff Carter in 2011.

Both have returned to the city where their NHL careers began.

"I love coming back to the city," Nash said. "It is always strange to come back for hockey because I suited up in this rink for nine, 10 years, but it is fun to see the capital of the hockey universe be Columbus."

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Columbus' Foligno, Johansen proud to show off city

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 4:24 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- NHL All-Star Weekend is an opportunity for the two hometown players to showcase their city but also a respite from a hard season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Forwards Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen will be the Blue Jackets' representatives for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky withdrew from the game after he sustained a lower-body injury Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blue Jackets (20-22-3) were expected to compete for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but are 14 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot, partly because numerous injuries have cost the Blue Jackets nearly 300 man-games.

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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday