In an attempt to generate more interest in this year's All-Star Game, the NHL created a new format for the selection of the teams: forgoing the usual East vs. West lineup for a fantasy player draft, where designated captains selected the All-Stars like kids in gym class or the neighborhood.
Tonight in Raleigh, N.C., the team captains - Carolina's Eric Staal and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom - along with their alternate captains - Washington's Mike Green and Vancouver's Ryan Kesler (Team Staal) and Patrick Kane and Martin St. Louis (Team Lidstrom) - selected from the remaining 36 players to round out their All-Star lineups.
Minnesota fans will not have to divide their allegiance this weekend as both Wild defenseman Brent Burns and winger Martin Havlat were selected by Team Lidstrom. A newly shaven Burns was taken 26th overall in the 13th round, while Havlat was Team Lidstrom's next selection at 28th overall.Watch what Brent Burns had to say after the draft.
In a setting that mirrored the NHL Entry Draft, the captains, flanked by their alternate captains, made their selections on a stage, while the All-Stars sat next to each other below the stage waiting for their names to be called. The 90-minute draft featured plenty of good-natured ribbing between teammates, and in some cases, brothers.
After flipping a hockey puck to determine which team would select first, Team Staal tried to keep the home-crowd support by selecting Carolina goalie Cam Ward with the No. 1 overall pick. Tampa Bay star center Steven Stamkos was selected next as the first pick of Team Lidstrom.
After Team Stall opened Round 3 by selecting Vancouver winger Daniel Sedin, Team Lidstrom made sure to break up the twins for the first time in their career, selecting Canucks center Henrik Sedin with the next pick.
Eric Staal ensured his team will have the full support of the hometown crowd when he chose Carolina's Jeff Skinner to start Round 11. He also made his parents happy, selecting his brother, New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, earlier with his pick in Round 7.
The bright smiles among the players in the crowd did seem to fade as fewer were left to be picked. While it was all in good fun, the players are still highly competitive and their faces resembeled those of not wanting to be the last man standing.
Yet, one All-Star was going to be this draft's Mr. Irrelevant. Toronto's Phil Kessel took the title tonight, but in doing so won a new car and earned $20,000 to be donated to his charity of choice.
The NHL rookies selected to participate in the All-Star Weekend festivities got to choose the team they will compete for, with the crew led by Taylor Hall choosing Team Lidstrom after winning the puck flip.
Team Staal will sport white jerseys highlighted with red while Team Lidstrom will wear blue jerseys during this weekend's festivities. The All-Stars will compete in the NHL Superskills competition tomorrow at 6 p.m. CT and the 2011 NHL All-Star Game Sunday at 3 p.m. CT. Both events will be televised live on VERSUS.
Complete results from Friday night's All-Star Fantasy Player Draft:
1. Cam Ward, G Carolina, Team Staal
2. Steven Stamkos, C Tampa Bay, Team Lidstrom
3. Alexander Ovechkin, RW Washington, Team Staal
4. Duncan Keith, D Chicago, Team Lidstrom
5. Daniel Sedin, W Vancouver, Team Staal
6. Henrik Sedin, C Vancouver, Team Lidstrom
7. Zdeno Chara, D Boston, Team Staal
8. Shea Weber, D Nashville, Team Lidstrom
9. Rick Nash, W Columbus, Team Staal
10. Tim Thomas, G Boston, Team Lidstrom
11. Henrik Lundqvist, G N.Y. Rangers, Team Staal
12. Daniel Briere, C/W Philadelphia, Team Lidstrom
13. Marc Staal, D N.Y. Rangers, Team Staal
14. Dustin Byfuglien, D Atlanta, Team Lidstrom
15. Patrick Sharp, LW Chicago, Team Staal
16. Jonathan Toews, C Chicago, Team Lidstrom
17. Dan Boyle, D San Jose, Team Staal
18. Marc-Andre Fleury, G Pittsburgh, Team Lidstrom
19. Carey Price, G Montreal, Team Staal
20. Jonas Hiller, G Anaheim, Team Lidstrom
21. Jeff Skinner, C Carolina, Team Staal
22. Brad Richards, C Dallas, Team Lidstrom
23. Kris Letang, D Pittsburgh, Team Staal
24. Keith Yandle, D Phoenix, Team Lidstrom
25. Claude Giroux, RW Philadelphia, Team Staal
26. Brent Burns, D Minnesota, Team Lidstrom
27. Erik Karlsson, D Ottawa, Team Staal
28. Martin Havlat, RW Minnesota, Team Lidstrom
29. Corey Perry, RW Anaheim, Team Staal
30. Anze Kopitar, C Los Angeles, Team Lidstrom
31. Patrik Elias, LW New Jersey, Team Staal
32. Matt Duchene, C Colorado, Team Lidstrom
33. David Backes, RW St. Louis, Team Staal
34. Loui Eriksson, LW Dallas, Team Lidstrom
35. Paul Stastny, C Colorado, Team Staal
36. Phil Kessel, RW Toronto, Team Lidstrom
Team Staal: Logan Couture, C San Jose; Tyler Ennis, LW Buffalo; Michael Grabner, RW N.Y. Islanders; Jamie McBain, D Carolina; Tyler Seguin, C Boston; P.K. Subban, D Montreal.
Team Lidstrom: Evgeny Dadonov, RW Florida; Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D Phoenix; Cam Fowler, D Anaheim; Taylor Hall, LW Edmonton; Kevin Shattenkirk, D Colorado; Derek Stepan, C N.Y. Rangers.