Ahead of Friday night's real thing, we asked SI.com columnists Darren Eliot and Adrian Dater to assume the roles of NHL All-Star Game captains Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom and draft their respective teams.
According to the league's new format, each captain was assigned two alternates, so the Staals (Eliot's team) have been awarded Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green and Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler. The alternate captains for the Lidstroms (Dater) are Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and winger Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Our draft was done according to league rules, with a coin toss determining the first pick and each captain required to choose three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards each. All goalies must be taken within the first 10 rounds; all defensemen by the end of Round 15.
Dater: Okay, Darren, since we're doing this via online chat room 2,000 miles apart, one of us must flip a coin to see who picks first. I've got a quarter here, and what do you know, it came up tails just like I guessed. So here we go.
I get the first pick. Advance apologies for my team beating yours, despite the fact that you played in the NHL and I played twist-'em board hockey only and always lost those little rubber end tips all the time. With the first selection in the 2011 NHL All Star Draft, I take Alex Ovechkin, because I want one guy in this game that most people recognize.
Eliot: I have to pick Marc Staal since I'm representing Team Staal. Rules of the playground: family first.
Dater: Wait, which Staal is he again? Okay, Steven Stamkos for me. He could get 50 goals in this one game alone.
Eliot: No power plays in this game, so he can be your shutdown center. Next, teammates are most important in these games. So I better take Jeff Skinner.
Dater: Oh, playing to the home crowd eh? Okay, I'll see your hometown pick Skinner and raise you with Cam Ward. Every save he makes, the crowd goes wild!
Eliot: He'll be bleary-eyed from the meet-and-greets. I want the goalie who epitomizes the joy and freedom of pond hockey: Tim Thomas.
Dater: Darn it, I wanted Thomas. He was going to be my closer. I'll take Matt Duchene then. I want a guy who's used to playing for a team that gives up six goals a night minimum.
Eliot: I want fancy, so Claude Giroux it is.
Dater: I feel bad for the Maple Leafs. Somebody had to play from them, so I'll take Phil Kessel. I just hope he can keep it to under a minus-10.
Eliot: Give me a dose of Big Buff... as in Dustin Byfuglien. Paired with Green, I want to see which guy opts to stay back defensively. Oh, no I don't... I want them to both roam at the same time.
Dater: Grrr, I wanted Buff, too. Okay, I need to start filling out my roster with defense, because Gary Bettman says I have to. So give me Brent Burns. Nobody steps in front of that slap shot in regular-season games, imagine the shooting lanes in this one.
Eliot: Not sure who's going to stand in front and screen the goalie, though. Speaking of goalies, I'll add Marc-Andre Fleury.
Dater: I need a goalie here. SoCarey Price is right for me. Take that, Jaroslav Halak.
Eliot: I'll take Halak's teammate,David Backes. Maybe he'll run Price.
Dater: Let's hope so! We need some bad blood in this game. Gotta take one more goalie, so let's get that done and takeJonas Hiller. Love the black mask.
Eliot: King Henrik Lundqvist, to dignify the proceedings.
Dater:Shea Weber for me. One of my D-men shooters is sure to break some glass at the RBC, then that might give my 40-year-old captain D-man and minutes-muncher, Nick Lidstrom, some rest.
Eliot: I'd better take a world-class freelancer... no, don't see any... I want Dan Boyle...
Dater: Okay, Erik Karlsson for me. Wait, who is he?
Eliot: At least you didn't step up and select Andreas Karlsson. I think Rick Nash will fit in nicely over here.
Dater: Wait, I see Jonathan Toews is still available. He's mine. Check and Mate, my friend.
Eliot: I'd better get serious then and take a Penguin... Sidney...nevermind... Evgeni... nope. Ah yes, Kris Letang, thank you very much.
Dater: Yeah, I really hope Malkin gets over that...sinus infection. I'm not sure I can work the game that day, either. I feel a hangnail coming on... Moving on, I take Duncan Keith, even though he's played like Keith Duncan a lot this season.
Eliot: I'll take Daniel Sedin and hope you do the right thing...
Dater: Of course. I take Henrik Sedin. But what happens if they switch uniforms after the first period? Nobody will know!
Eliot: Look for the one who passes... he's on your team...mine's the shooter... and I'll take another one as in Patrick Sharp shooter.
Dater: Not a bad pick there. But my next one is better: Ryan Kesler. He'll actually try to play some defense in this thing.
Eliot: He's one of my assistant captains. Please try again, sir!
Dater: Darn it, thought nobody was looking. Okay, give me Zdeno Chara or give me death.
Eliot: Good pick for the hardest shot competition. As for pond hockey, I'll take Keith Yandle... thought he should have been on the original list.
Dater: Who? Sorry, forgot he played for that team that's in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Then I want Loui Eriksson. He's the perfect darkhorse MVP type.
Eliot: But he spells Loui funny. Not funny, but fearsome is Corey Perry. I want him.
Dater: Is Anze Kopitar still available? What, he is? Not anymore.
Eliot: Thought you might take Eriksson's set-up man from Dallas, so I think I'll weigh in with Brad Richards.
Dater: We're getting to the end here, so that must mean I need to take a New Jersey Devil. Patrik Elias then.
Eliot:Martin Havlat, please. Another darkhorse MVP type.
Dater:Paul Stastny was named as an injury replacement for Malkin, so he's mine. He and Duchene will do their "bang-bang" victory dance when this is over.
Eliot: That means Daniel Briere, Giroux's teammate in Philly and All-Star MVP in 2007, is the last guy picked. Sorry, Dan, you'll still get major ice time with me.
Dater: Any parting shots my way, sir?
Eliot: I'm filing a grievance with the NHL selection committee for your attempt to steal Kesler.
Dater: They'll have the smallest ears in the world, my friend. Enjoy your 19-15 loss.
FARBER:The captains leave me cold
HACKEL:Can anything save the All-Star Game?