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Staal mulling draft strategies for All-Star Weekend

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Staal mulling draft strategies for All-Star Weekend
Will he pick teammate Cam Ward? Brother Marc from the Rangers? Southeast rival Alex Ovechkin? Eric Staal discussed possible Fantasy Draft strategies on Tuesday.
If there's one guy inside the NHL community that Carolina captain Eric Staal can trust to keep his draft ideas secret, it would be his brother Jordan in Pittsburgh.

"(Eric) told me a few things about his decisions," Jordan Staal admitted to the Penguins' website Tuesday.

And why wouldn't he?

Jordan will be in Raleigh this weekend for the Staal family reunion (yes, they are having one). His two NHL-playing brothers as well as a pair of Penguins' teammates (Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang) will be in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover, but otherwise Jordan doesn't have a real horse in this race, so he can be totally unbiased.

If Eric asks, he can give an honest answer.

Rangers defenseman Marc Staal can't. He'll be in the pool of 36 players available to Team Staal and Team Lidstrom on Friday at the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco, so he is completely biased.

Eric Staal said Tuesday he's getting pressure from his mom to pick Marc, but he has his own reasons to lean in the other direction.

"The Rangers were just here to play us and I said to him, 'If you let me score a hat trick here at home I'll take you first,' and that hat trick never happened," Staal told NHL Live! on Tuesday. "He's slipping down the charts."

Carolina goalie Cam Ward is also in the draft pool, but he doesn't have to wonder about his status because Staal made it abundantly clear Tuesday that his goal is to keep the two Hurricanes together in Raleigh this weekend so Team Staal would have a real home-ice advantage.

"I think we need to be on the same team and let the home crowd cheer for one team," Staal said.

When told of Nicklas Lidstrom's possible plan to pick Ward in order to divide the home crowd's allegiances -- something Lidstrom talked about during a conference call Monday -- Staal said he might have to "figure something out as far as making a trade." He told Bill Clement and Don LaGreca on NHL Live! he might have to bribe Lidstrom by offering to buy him dinner.

However, when asked if Ward will be his first pick if he wins the pre-draft coin flip, Staal was wishy-washy.

Hey, he doesn't want to let the cat out of the bag early.

"There are plenty of other options out there," Staal said. "You never know."

Staal said he is a little bit nervous about how the entire draft is going to play out, but his intent is to have fun with it.

"I've got two alternates in Mike Green and Ryan Kesler and they'll do the thinking for me," he said, joking. "We're just going to enjoy it. Obviously you have to have some rhyme or reason as far as picks go, but there's a ton of talent there and no bad picks. There's no wrong way to go about it."

True, but Staal admitted you have to "have some rhyme and reason" to your picks, and he definitely has some ideas on what might be the right way to go in order to spice up the weekend even more.

For instance, he's all for the idea of separating the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel.

"We can ask Ryan who he likes the best and take him and leave the other guy for the other team," Staal said. "They're talented together and it would probably be weird for them and weird for everyone else to have them on different teams. We'll see."

Green could offer his two cents about teammate Alex Ovechkin, but it's not like he would say anything Staal doesn't already know, being from the Southeast Division.

"Eric gets to play against him all the time and knows what he's about," Green said.

Green, though, may tell Staal to steer clear of No. 8.

"It'd be nice to have him come down one-on-one with you," Green said.

Staal said he's been listening to some of his Carolina teammates giving him some free advice on how to handle the draft.

"Some interesting scenarios some of the guys in the room are coming up with," Staal said on NHL Live!, "like leaving a couple of the goal scorers until the end so they can see how it feels because they've probably never been picked last in their lives."

Staal has a lot to think about -- does he try to win with offense or defense? -- and that's probably why he leaned on Jordan a little to discuss some of his options.

He has a different level of responsibility in this All-Star Game than the previous three he's participated in, but Staal appreciates the opportunity and he's looking forward to the challenge.

And hey, he can't really go wrong because no matter what he does he'll have the host city behind him.

"It was a great idea," Staal said of the Fantasy Draft. "It adds a different element, different aspect. You haven't seen anything like this in pro sports before. With football pools, hockey pools and baseball pools and the amount sports fans pay attention to that stuff, why not have athletes in the same mix for an all-star event. I think the idea was very cool."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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