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2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft commentary

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

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.'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.

Toews said he and alternate captains Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Rick Nash of the New York Rangers wanted to give Kessel the feeling of being picked at the other end of the draft.

But Toews also said there were other factors at play in picking Kessel.

"The three of us were just talking, and he's one of the most coachable players out there," Toews said.

Team Foligno alternate captain Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks announced his team's second pick, and not surprisingly took Chicago teammate defenseman Duncan Keith.

Getzlaf then joked that Team Toews should take Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar with their next pick because of how badly Team Foligno alternate captain Drew Doughty would want his teammate.

"You know you guys can take players on other teams, right?" Getzlaf asked his opponent.

But instead, Getzlaf announced that Team Toews was taking Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber.

Doughty announced he would be taking Kopitar with Team Foligno's third pick.

So maybe Team Foligno actually doesn't know they can take players from other teams?

As it turns out, Team Foligno did in fact know they could take players from other teams, selecting Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos with the seventh pick.

There was little threat of it happening, but Stamkos was asked if he was concerned he might wind up getting selected last overall and winning the car that goes with that distinction.

"Everyone says they want the car, but they don't really want the car," Stamkos said. "So I'm happy I won't get it."

Team Foligno showed how immersed his leadership group is in their work. When they were called on to make their pick, Foligno looked up and said, "What's going on?"

They were apparently talking strategy. Sure.

Then, after knocking the other team for homer picks, Team Toews took Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with its fourth pick.

Pot, meet kettle.

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo is in Columbus with his children, and while backstage he told NBCSN's Pierre McGuire he would rather play for Team Toews because his kids prefer the white All-Star jerseys to the black ones being work by Team Foligno.

In Round 6, Luongo's kids won the draft, and a new jersey they'll like.

"Based on not disappointing his kids, and also because he has the most gel in his hair of anyone in the National Hockey League," Nash said explaining the pick.

A slicked-back Luongo came on stage and quickly corrected Nash's assertion.

"This is not gel." he said, "This is natural oil."

Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin and Stamkos attended the fantasy draft wearing the exact same shoes, which was somehow noticed by Doughty.

Asked why that was, Stamkos explained, "We both obviously have good fashion sense."

Seguin noted how versatile the shoes were because they worked when you were "dressed down or dressed up."

After they talked about shoes for a while longer, the draft continued.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin lobbied from the start that he wanted to be taken last because he needed a car.

I hope he's not offended if we doubt the veracity of that statement.

Anyway, halfway through the draft, it looked like Ovechkin was on track to have that wish fulfilled.

Team Foligno and Team Toews each had to select a goalie with their 10th pick, because all the goalies needed to off the board by that round.

Foligno took Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues, and Toews took Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders, who didn't win a car for being the last goalie selected.

Interestingly, Elliott and Halak were picked in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Draft. And here they are, draft buddies once more, except with a far more elite field.

Ovechkin remained on the board, his fingers crossed not to hear his name called.

Foligno wondered Friday afternoon at the NHL All-Star Media Day presented by DraftKings that if he and Toews were able to make the first trade in All-Star history whether or not NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would come on stage to announce it.

Instead, Foligno did it himself.

"I've always wanted to do this," Foligno said. "We have a trade to announce."

The trade did not disappoint.

"It's worked out for both teams in the past, so we're going to trade Tyler Seguin for Phil Kessel," Foligno said.

After which someone on stage added, "Plus 16 first-round draft picks!"

Kessel and Seguin were never actually traded for each other, but the Boston Bruins used one of the three draft picks they acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kessel to select Seguin with the No 2 pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.

Seguin was then traded to the Dallas Stars after winning a Stanley Cup in Boston, so the disappointment of knowing a team no longer wanted him was nothing new.

"You never expect to get traded," Seguin said. "It's tough to swallow."

Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano was never drafted into the NHL.

Moments before he was drafted in the All-Star Game, Giordano had Ovechkin sitting on his lap as he was interviewed by McGuire, and said he would happy to be able to say he was drafted before the guy who was sitting on him.

Moments later, Getzlaf made that happen.

"Me and him recently had some incidents on the ice, but I'd like to put that behind us," Getzlaf said in making the pick.

Giordano acknowledged that the last time the Flames played the Ducks, "We didn't agree on everything."

But he was more than happy to join Getzlaf for the weekend.

"I'm thankful he was the first guy to ever draft me," Giordano said.

Alas, Ovechkin's quest to get selected last came up short.

When Kane called his name to add him to Team Foligno, Ovechkin stared at the sky in the green room and feigned like he was refusing to report before coming on stage.

"Just buy the car, Ovie," Kane told him when he got on stage.

Ovechkin, a four-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner as the League's top goal-scorer, went in the 17th round, 33rd out of 35 picks.

As it turned out, Ovechkin was closer to the car than he thought.

In a twist this year, fans were given the opportunity to vote for who would be the second-to-last pick in the draft, and by a slim margin of 51 percent to 49 percent, the fans decided Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers would go to Team Foligno, making rookie Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators the last pick for Team Toews.

"I really wanted that car bad," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I'm a little disappointed right now."

That disappointment lasted less than a minute.

Because the fans decided who the last pick would be, it was announced that Nugent-Hopkins and Forsberg would each get a 2015 Honda Accord, so everyone was happy.

Everyone except Ovechkin.

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