COLUMBUS – The NHL’s best and brightest have made their way to Columbus. Now they just need to find out which team they’ll be on.
Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks will select the All-Star squads Friday night at the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings (8 p.m., NBCSN, SN).
Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons isn’t sure where he’ll be picked and has had thoughts that, because he’s a second-year player who won the Fan Vote by an over 300,000-vote margin, he could be picked last. While it’s been on his mind, he said he’s not too worried about it and where he’s picked doesn’t matter.
Of course, there is some incentive for being the final selection. The player whose name is called last will take home a new car.
“That’s not too bad of a deal,” Girgensons said at All-Star Media Day on Friday at Nationwide Arena.
Foligno’s brother, of course, is Sabres forward Marcus Foligno and Marcus has made sure Girgensons is on the draft radar.
“Marcus told me that right away I’ve got to try to get Zemgus on the team, for sure,” Foligno said.
So would Girgensons like to play with Nick Foligno?
“Yeah, if he doesn’t pick me last,” he said, laughing. “…All the players I meet here, they’re all unbelievable players and it’s an honor just to be next to them.”
He did say that he would like the chance to play with Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau, who was added to the roster on Thursday. Girgensons and Gaudreau were linemates when they played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL in 2010-11.
“Z, he’s just a great player, a great teammate and a great guy off the ice,” Gaudreau said. “He deserves to be here. He’s one of my really good buddies. He plays so hard and he’s a pretty good leader too. I’m pretty happy for him.”
There’s no telling where Girgensons or any of the players could be picked, really. The team captains haven’t thought too much about their draft strategy yet.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane are alternate captains on Team Foligno and will assist in making the picks.
“Oh, I’m definitely just going to get up there and wing it,” Doughty said. “I’m sure we’re not going to come up with a plan – at least I’m not going to. I think it would be more fun to just wing it.”
It seems like the captains are open to being bribed...or at least Foligno is.
“Bobby Ryan’s been making so pitches already,” Foligno said. “I haven’t been offered dinner yet. I’m still waiting on that one.
“…I’m happy that I can’t really screw this draft up. That’s the good news. I can’t really draft a bad player. I’m going to have a lot of fun. I’m going to be nervous, I’m sure but it’ll be a really great time and I think the fans and everyone’s going to have a good time with it.”
Toews will lend on the advice of his alternate captains, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and the Rangers’ Rick Nash.
Getzlaf will first need to make sure he knows who’s even playing in the game.
“I’ve got to look at the rosters first. I don’t know who’s all here,” he said. “We’ve had a few guys drop off the last few days [due to injury] so we’ll have to check it out tonight.”
It’s possible that Toews could schedule a meeting of the captains.
“Maybe he'll want to meet with us and we'll go over a little bit of it,” Getzlaf said. “I'm going to bring my empty portfolio and open it up like we're going to talk about something real.”
Once the teams are formed, they’ll compete against each other in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday and then in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday.
Playing in the All-Star Game will also mark the first one Girgensons has ever really watched. He never had too much interest in them before.
“I haven’t really seen an All-Star Game at all. I never really watched hockey as a kid either,” he said. “[I was playing] too much already. I see it every day.”
Girgensons hasn’t found out which event he’ll be participating in during the Skills Competition, but he’s hoping he isn’t picked to do something too challenging.
“Definitely one you can’t mess up – something easy,” he joked.
Stay tuned to Sabres.com all weekend long for coverage of All-Star Weekend, including Girgensons’ reaction to Friday’s draft.