The NHL All-Star fantasy draft kicks off at 7:30 tonight. Kudos to the NHL for thinking of something to make the ASG semi-relevant. Sunday’s game will still be brutally boring.
Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom will each choose a team of players (with the help of a few assistant captains) from a pool created by the NHL.Goalies must be chosen by round 10 and defensemen by the 16th round.
Six players were voted in by the fans which usually means they aren’t worthy of playing in the game but their fans cared enough to vote. The case this year is a bit more forgiving with Sidney Crosby and Carey Price among those six. But Evgeni Malkin is not having an All Star year and Kris Letang is simply not worthy of such an event. Sorry Pens fans.
The bigger travesty here is the choice of the NHL to keep shoveling Carolina Hurricanes into the event. Jeff Skinner was promoted from the rookie pool and Jamie McBain was put in the rookie pool as a replacement. It is bad enough that Brendan Shanahan and the NHL offices decided that Cam Ward was having an All-Star season, while ignoring Ondrej Pavelec, Jonathon Quick or even Pekka Rinne. I guess the league needed a reason to motivate an already lethargic fan base. Here is an idea, host the game in markets who care more about their teams.
I could go all night about the injustice that the Canes are receiving by getting so many players put into the game when true superstars like Jumbo Joe Thornton aren’t participating. However, I want to focus on the game itself and the draft.
The draft is brilliant. No more of this East vs. West crap. Split the players up and let ’em play some shinny. I’m sure the game will still be super boring, but this makes it a bit more intriguing.
The draft also brings some additional fan participation into the situation. My buddy and I formed our own teams and developed a fantasy scoring system. Draft rules were the same but we included the captains in the player pool. Our scoring system is: 2 points for a goal, 1 point for an assist and 1/2 a point for a plus or a minus (minus being a deduction). For goalies is is 3 points for a shutout, 2 for 1 goal against, 1 for 2 goals against and 0 for 3-5 goals against. Anything over 5 you are deducted one point. Add a bonus point for having the first player picked and minus one for owning Mr. Irrelevant. Lastly, we included individual Super Skills events as a separate category, with the same scoring system the league uses.
So, having a small interest in the game helps push me towards the game on Sunday. Of course, I’m still not a fan of the ASG. I personally think they should scrap it entirely. The NHL All-Star weekend should consist of a fantasy draft on the ice and a subsequent skills competition. No more All Star jerseys, just the most talented athletes on the planet showing off their skills. All the league would need to do is expand the skills competition to include a few more events. That would make it fun to watch, and witness, without putting everyone through a dry, played-out exhibition.
Lastly, bring it up to cities that will care a bit more. No more Atlanta, Carolina or Tampa. Keep it up with the Winter Classic. Cold cities who appreciate their teams.