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The All-Star Fantasy Draft: a hometown pick, two free cars and a trade (!)

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets


Can we fast forward to Saturday night?

It was certainly an eventful evening at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, host of the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings. Both captains, Nick Foligno of the Blue Jackets and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, were charged with selecting the teams for the Skills Competition and Honda NHL All-Star Game -- and there were plenty of agendas in play.

However, one of the elements of suspense was taken care of right away.

Team Foligno made hometown star Ryan Johansen the first pick of the draft after Foligno won the “puck flip” to open the draft. Team Toews, seeking to answer the immediate scoring threat of Johansen, responded by selecting Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs with its first pick - but Kessel was hilariously traded later in the draft for Tyler Seguin, an homage to the blockbuster deal between Boston and Toronto from years back.

In its next few picks, Team Foligno made sure to bulk up down the middle, because we all know that’s how winning teams are built. Anze Kopitar and Steven Stamkos were selected with Team Foligno’s third and fourth picks, after assistant captain Patrick Kane campaigned to get his Chicago teammate Duncan Keith on the squad.

And both teams seemed determined to draft players to position themselves for the Skills Competition; Shea Weber (a hardest shot favorite) was selected second by Team Toews and Team Foligno had to do something, so they selected Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien with their eighth pick.

Goaltenders featured a little wrinkle: they all had to be selected by the 10th round. The first goaltender selected was Corey Crawford, no doubt a “homer” pick by Captain Toews. Roberto Luongo was the loudest campaigner amongst the netminders, almost begging to be chosen by Team Toews because his children liked the white jerseys better.

Well, it worked — Luongo was selected with Team Toews’ sixth pick. All of the Luongos were happy.

Other goaltenders selected: Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury and Brian Elliott (Team Foligno) and Jaroslav Halak (Team Toews).

For all of the strategy involved, perhaps the greatest and most hilarious plotting surrounded Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who began some early campaigning for the last pick. He wanted the brand new Honda Accord as the draft’s last pick and he made it abundantly clear, which may have played into Foligno’s decision to pick him with his 17th selection.

Oh, and there was a twist: instead of only the last player selected getting the car, the final two players left standing were given brand new Accords from Honda. Those were awarded to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers and Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators, so it's not all bad for those guys.

As you could expect, Ovechkin was not pleased.

“I need a car,” he repeated…to no avail.

“Pick Ovi…it’ll (tick) him off,” Foligno said to his assistants before making the Ovechkin pick. “Who cares, what’s he gonna do?”

We cannot confirm reports that Ovechkin was seeking out his captain after the draft, demanding an explanation for his pick. Foligno joked that Ovechkin “had crushed (the Blue Jackets’) dreams” many times by scoring against them, so returning the favor in tonight’s draft was the least he could do.

Don't forget to tune in for the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday night, beginning at 7 p.m. ET LIVE on the NBC Sports Network. The fun is only beginning.

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