The 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft is set for Thursday night in Ottawa. Recently, TampaBayLightning.com caught up with Sun Sports television play-by-play man Rick Peckham and color analyst Bobby “The Chief” Taylor to pick their brains on the upcoming selection showcase in an ongoing exchange of dialogue that spanned the gamut from serious, to at times, comical.
If each of you were serving as captains for the two respective sides, who would you take with your first overall pick?
Rick: I think it would be hard for me not to go with Evgeni Malkin. He’s been best player in hockey for the past month and right now at least, I think it would be difficult to go find anybody more skilled than he is. I think you go with the hot hand and build around that. My only prediction though is that Phil Kessel isn’t going last. That’s going to be my prediction.
Chief: Who would I take with the first overall pick? Well if Rick is going to take Malkin then I’d take the board.
Rick: Well come on, Chief. You can’t just take everybody.
Chief: No, not that board. I’m talking about the board behind the net because that’s probably the only way you can stop a guy like Malkin. If I was picking first I would take Steven Stamkos. I think it’s going to be a wide-open game and the closest there will be to a check might be five feet. But Stamkos is a pure shooter and a natural goal scorer so that’s who I’d choose.
What are you expecting out of Stamkos this year at the All-Star Game compared to what you witnessed a season ago in his first year at the event?
Rick: I think he’s going to be a lot more comfortable this time around. He’ll benefit from being there and I think now people are starting to see him as a guy who is expected to perform. I think he’s very comfortable with all those expectations. Heck, he could easily even come home with a car.
Chief: I think this year he feels like he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. I think the difference now is that people regard him as a pure superstar.
What aspect of the All-Star Weekend are you most interested in seeing?
Rick: I’m interested to see how the goalies fare since they’re at such a disadvantage in a game like this. Occasionally you get a performance where a guy stands on his head. I think Tim Thomas did that a few years ago. In his portion of the game he was coming up with circus save after circus save, but the odds are so stacked against the goaltenders that the over/under has to be around 25.
Chief: I’m pretty curious myself to see how the coaches run the bench. Do you think they’re going to shorten the bench? They’re All-Stars, so who the heck do you sit out? You have to roll four lines I would imagine, but you never know, these guys might be out there to win.
What player might surprise some people a little bit at this year’s event?
Rick: I think people have forgotten about Claude Giroux. He was doing great and then he got hurt, but I think he’s a young player who is going to be around for years and years to come.
Chief: One guy I’ve really been intrigued with all year long is Tyler Seguin. I think he’s going to be the next big-name guy out there. He does everything well and he’s very responsible defensively. I know he plays on a team that scores a lot, but I also think they prevent a lot of goals too. I like his speed and his awareness out there. It’s a matter of people waking up and seeing how good he is. There are also guys who can really move the puck and do amazing things in open ice. Maybe the defensemen will surprise us a little bit and put on an offensive performance.
What advice would you give to Steven Stamkos for the All-Star Game?
Rick: Well, as John Tortorella always used to say, “Safe Is Death.” Being that it’s an All-Star Game, I think he’ll really embrace that one.
Chief: I’d tell him to go have fun. He’s so established now and he’s been scoring all these goals, putting up pretty much the same totals consistently for the past two seasons and including this one, and there’s nobody that’s been able to match him. He can play with anybody. There’s no question about that.