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All-Star captains not stressed by NHL Fantasy Draft

by Arpon Basu /

COLUMBUS -- The NHL Draft often is called a crapshoot because of how difficult it is to project the future of 18-year-old hockey players.

The 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) is the exact opposite of that.

There are no projections to be made for captains Nick Foligno of the host Columbus Blue Jackets and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, just a list of the best players in the world to choose from.

"I’m happy that I can't really [mess] this draft up; I can't really draft a bad player," Foligno said. "I'll be nervous I'm sure, but I'm going to have a great time."

Foligno will be helped at the draft table by alternate captains Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Toews will receive advice from Rick Nash of the New York Rangers and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.

Each team of captains planned on spending hours Friday afternoon pouring over statistics and coming up with line combinations to make sure their teams have the right mix of veterans and young players and an even distribution of right-hand and left-hand shots.

OK, maybe not.

"I doubt we're going to meet, but I don't know. I'll have to talk to my captain," Getzlaf said. "[Toews] is pretty serious at some points so maybe he'll want to meet with us and we'll go over a little bit of it.

"I'm going to bring my empty portfolio and open it up like we're going to talk about something real."

Getzlaf isn't kidding.

He proved just how little he has thought of the draft process when he was asked who he would like to see picked last overall.

"Maybe Doughty," Getzlaf said. "[Doughty] could use it; it would knock him down a little bit. Let him sweat it out at the end. He'd be real nervous too at the end if he's still up there."

When told Doughty is an alternate captain like him, Getzlaf felt vindicated that his lack of knowledge of the All-Star roster was genuine.

"See? There you go. I don't even know who the assistants are," he said. "I've got to get my list. I've got some research to do this afternoon."

Doughty, on the other hand, showed he had some semblance of an idea of what was going on when he was asked the same question.

"That's funny. I was talking to [Kings center Anze Kopitar], and doesn't the last pick get a car or something like that?" Doughty said. "So me and [Kopitar] were going to try to work out a deal to make him the last pick. But now that [Getzlaf] said that I'm hoping … is he a captain too?"

Yes, Drew. He is.

"Ah, so I can't draft him last either," Doughty said.

The captains also have the option to make a trade, something that never has happened at the All-Star Fantasy Draft and something that was news to Toews.

"Is that for real?" he asked.

Jonathan Toews
Center - CHI
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 42
SOG: 111 | +/-: 16
The player who gets picked last in the draft becomes the star of the show, in a way, but it's the type of notoriety no player particularly wants even though there usually is a nice prize attached to it. Toews and Foligno have the fate of that player in their hands, but they claim not to be targeting anyone in particular.

Toews said if he had his way, Kane would be picked last, knowing full well that's impossible. And Foligno was comfortable in the knowledge it wouldn't be him.

"I still think everyone's pride doesn't want to go last, so no matter what the car is they don't want to be the last guy picked," he said. "I'm just glad I'm the one picking and don't have to worry about that."

Ultimately the only real strategy involved in an event like this was described perfectly by Doughty, taking into account the spirit of an event and a weekend like this one.

"No matter who you draft you're getting an All-Star," Doughty said. "I kind of more so want to draft guys I know, guys I've hung out with in the past. I just want to have a room full of guys that want to have fun, that are relaxed and just enjoying the moment."

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