|Daniel Alfredsson welcomes fellow Swede and Senators teammate Erik Karlsson to his squad with his first pick in the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Some might call it his all-star dream team.
Or we could state the obvious and label this group a Sens-ational squad.
All three of his Ottawa Senators teammates, every Swede available ... so Daniel Alfredsson
, how do you feel about the way things worked out at the helm of your first Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft.
"I love my team," the Senators captain said with a wide grin when asked about the Team Alfredsson lineup he selected Thursday night at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau. "We’ve got a good team and we should have a lot of fun. We’ll have the crowd on our side, but we’re going up against a good team, too. I look forward to it."
Nothing pleased Alfredsson more than being able to assure the three available Senators in the draft would be part of his squad. As he'd suggested earlier, he went with defenceman Erik Karlsson
— a fellow Swede and sometimes babysitter in the Alfredsson household — with his top pick after Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara chose Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings first overall.
"I worked his kids pretty hard," a smiling Karlsson said after Alfredsson called his name. "I'm really happy I could join my fellow Swede."
So, too, was Jason Spezza
, the second-round pick for Team Alfredsson. And much as Karlsson joked the Spezza was miffed about not being chosen ahead of him, the Senators centre knew that wasn't going to be the case.
"Erik’s part of Alfie’s family, so you pick family first," said a grinning Spezza. "I’m happy I got picked second. We’re just happy we’re all together. I’m glad Milo could be with us, too, and we’re going to have a great weekend.
"It worked out the way we wanted it to work out, and we’re happy we could all be together."
Milo is Senators forward Milan Michalek
, the speedy Czech who had to wait a while longer before learning he'd been joining Alfredsson, Karlsson and Spezza on what should truly be a home team in Sunday's 2012 Tim Hortons All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place (4 p.m., CBC).
"We wanted to be together and we’re happy it ended up like that," said Michalek, who's playing in his first NHL all-star game (Karlsson and Spezza are both second timers, while this is No. 6 for Alfredsson).
Added Alfredsson: "I wanted to make sure I got Erik and Jason and unfortunately, I had to bump (Milan) down a few spots, but I'm happy to have him, too."
Even better for the Alfredsson family — his team includes a raft of Swedes from around the NHL, most notably twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks, who played on opposite sides a year ago in Raleigh, N.C. Alfredsson's lineup also includes two more Swedes — Canucks blueliner Alex Edler and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who helped the Senators captain do the picking in the draft.
|Jason Spezza hugs Senators teammate Daniel Alfredsson after learning the two will be joining forces at the Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft at the Hilton Lac Leamy (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images). |
"What I like about the team is there’s a lot of Swedes," said Alfredsson. "I know them and they’re good friends and it’ll be fun to play with them. I’ve never played on a line with the Sedins and I hope I get to play at least a few shifts with them. And also, we got a lot of local people with (Claude) Giroux (of the Philadelphia Flyers, whose family lives in Orleans) and (Logan) Couture (of the San Jose Sharks, a former Ottawa 67's star).
"I’m really happy with our team and pretty confident we’re going to have the crowd with us."
Perhaps the only fly in the ointment — when the 12 rookies who'll take part in Saturday's Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition (7 p.m., CBC) were distributed, Senators forward Colin Greening
wound up on Team Chara. But he takes solace in the fact he'll compete alongside Luke Adam of the Buffalo Sabres, a fellow Newfoundlander.
While the rules for this year's fantasy draft allowed for one trade, Greening said he didn't ask for one.
"Chara came up and talked to me and asked me if I would like one," he said. "It was really nice of him to do that, but I realize this is all part of it and it didn’t really need to get to that ... Would it have been nice to be with Alfie and the rest of the guys? Yeah, sure. Maybe it’ll give me more incentive in the skills competition to beat them."
Said Spezza: "He’ll probably win the fastest skater, so he’ll be all right. The fans will cheer for him, I’m sure."
Alfredsson's team also includes former Senators goaltender Brian Elliott, now of the St. Louis Blues; netminder Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings; defencemen Kris Letang (Pittsburgh), Dan Girardi (Rangers), Shea Weber (Nashville) and Keith Yandle (Phoenix), and forwards Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay), James Neal (Pittsburgh), John Tavares (N.Y. Islanders), Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia) and Jason Pominville (Buffalo).
Rookies added to Team Alfredsson for the skills competition included Sean Couturier and Matt Read (Philadelphia), Justin Faulk (Carolina), Carl Hagelin (Rangers), Nick Johnson (Minnesota) and Craig Smith (Nashville).