Phil Kessel sat only a few seats away from Paul Stastny as the two remaining All-Stars not yet picked to either Team Lidstrom or Team Staal in the NHL’s inaugural All-Star Game Fantasy Draft. It was a moment that the All-Stars both savored and feared coming into the event as they knew that any one of them could be the last one sitting on the floor waiting to become Mr. Irrelevant as the last pick in the draft. But it pays to be the last pick, as Phil Kessel found out.
Team Staal selected Stastny with their 18th Round pick which left Kessel sitting alone on the floor as the inconsequential pick of Team Lidstrom. However, Kessel reaped the benefits as the NHL will donate $20,000 to a charity of Kessel’s choice and also awarded Kessel with a brand new Honda car. Mr. Irrelevant will be riding to the game in style on Sunday.
The Fantasy Draft seemed to go over surprisingly well and created many fun moments as fans got to see the less serious side of many of the players. Perhaps one of the best moments was a shot of Alexander Ovechkin whipping out his camera phone to snap a photo of Kessel sitting all by himself after Stastny’s name was announced. The friendly, joking nature of many of the players came out which was a nice change of pace over the usual serious, game-face demeanor fans are usually treated to during the regular season. The draft also produced some big surprises as many fans pondered the several story lines coming into the event tonight through their own mock drafts and scenarios, much like the one we posted yesterday.
One of the most surprising things from the draft was the layers of loyalties to teammates, ex-teammates and fellow countryman displayed throughout the draft process. It was no surprise that Steve Stamkos was selected by Team Lidstrom with their first pick not only because he leads the league in goals, but also because he plays on a line with Martin St. Louis, one of the assistant captains for Team Lidstrom. But what did come as a surprise was how quick Team Lidstrom was to select players like Brad Richards, who played in Tampa Bay with St. Louis for several seasons, and Martin Havlat, who used to play in Chicago with Team Lidstrom’s other alternate captain Patrick Kane. Team Staal, whose alternate captains are Mike Green and Ryan Kessler, made similar decisions when they selected goaltender Cam Ward with the first overall pick and then followed with Alexander Ovechkin and Daniel Sedin – all teammates of one of the captains.
One of the best moments of the draft had to be watching Phil Kessel squirm in his seat when it came down to him and Paul Stastny as the final selections. Kessel had a big grin on his face but you could tell he was sweating bullets and keeping his fingers crossed that he wouldn’t be the last man picked. Stastny, on the other hand, kept a fairly cool demeanor and if he was worried about being last picked, he sure didn’t show it.
Probably the most no-brainer moment came when the Sedin Twins were selected back-to-back by different teams. For the first time in their lives they will play against each other on different teams. Why was this choice a no-brainer? Well, if either team had allowed the other to select both Sedin Twins they would have immediately put themselves at a huge disadvantage. Have you seen those two play together? Sometimes it appears as if they just communicate telepathically and that’s how they find each other open so often.
In my opinion, one of the worst moments of the event came at the end when Kessel was awarded a new Honda for being the last pick. The donation to a charity of his choice was an incredibly awesome move by the NHL, but did they really need to follow it up by giving the guy a car? I think any one of those players makes enough money per year to buy themselves a decent mode of transportation.
Overall, however, the event was a lot of fun and really added something special and unique to the All-Star festivities. The NHL really hit a home-run with this switch in format and hopefully they can build on the success of the draft into tomorrow night’s skills competition and the actual All-Star Game on Sunday. Let’s just hope that David Backes follows through on his promise to hit lay on a few hits to the captains of the team that didn’t select him. Look out Team Lidstrom.
Take a look below for the final results from the 2011 NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft and be sure to check out the Skill Competition tomorrow night with the All-Star Game following on Sunday afternoon.
|Round||Team Staal||Position||Team Lidstrom||Position|
|–||Eric Staal||F||Nicklas Lidstrom||D|
|–||Ryan Kesler||F||Martin St. Louis||F|
|–||Mike Green||D||Patrick Kane||F|
|1||Cam Ward||G||Steven Stamkos||F|
|2||Alexander Ovechkin||F||Duncan Keith||D|
|3||Daniel Sedin||F||Henrik Sedin||F|
|4||Zdeno Chara||D||Shea Weber||D|
|5||Rick Nash||F||Tim Thomas||G|
|6||Henrik Lundqvist||G||Daniel Briere||F|
|7||Marc Staal||F||Dustin Byfuglien||D|
|8||Patrick Sharp||F||Jonathan Toews||F|
|9||Dan Boyle||D||Marc-Andre Fleury||G|
|10||Carey Price||G||Jonas Hiller||G|
|11||Jeff Skinner||F||Brad Richards||C|
|12||Kris Letang||D||Keith Yandle||D|
|13||Claude Giroux||F||Brent Burns||D|
|14||Erik Karlsson||D||Martin Havlat||F|
|15||Corey Perry||F||Anze Kopitar||F|
|16||Patrik Elias||F||Matt Duchene||F|
|17||David Backes||F||Loui Eriksson||F|
|18||Paul Stasny||F||Phil Kessel||F|
|Team Lidstrom Rookies||Team Staal Rookies|
|Evgeny Dadonov||FLA||F||Logan Couture||SJ||F|
|Oliver Ekman-Larsson||PHO||D||Tyler Ennis||BUF||F|
|Cam Fowler||ANA||D||Michael Grabner||NYI||F|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||COL||D||Jamie McBain||CAR||D|
|Taylor Hall||EDM||F||Tyler Seguin||BOS||F|
|Derek Stepan||NYR||F||P.K. Subban||BOS||D|