NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft: Predicting the Top 10 Picks
The 2012 NHL All-Star weekend is just three weeks away, and the "fantasy draft" will be taking place on Thursday night, January 26.
Last year's fantasy draft, led by team captains Nick Lidstrom and Eric Staal, saw a number of unusual sights including the Sedin twins playing on different teams and Phil Kessel being chosen last overall.
Although the All-Star game team captains have yet to be announced, it would not be a stretch to see the home team's captain, Daniel Alfredsson, as one of the captains.
For the six players who have been selected as All-Star game "starters" (whatever that means), I would pick Dion Phaneuf as the other team captain.
This would create a rivalry among the two teams before they even started choosing players, on the basis of the "Battle of Ontario."
So going on that basis, let's take a look at the way that the first 10 picks might fall and who will end up on "Team Alfredsson" and "Team Phaneuf."
Team Alfredsson's First Pick: Jason Spezza
This pick will make the locals happy, and with 41 points in 41 games, Jason Spezza provides a sure fire offensive threat.
Spezza has played with Alfredsson since Spezza was drafted second overall in 2001 and he provides a great offensive threat, whether shooting or passing the puck.
Spezza is a great playmaker, having put up 71 assists in 2005-06, and Alfredsson will likely reward him for playing with him for so many years by selecting him with the first overall pick.
Team Phaneuf's First Pick: Phil Kessel
Nobody likes to be picked last, even in an All-Star draft.
Kessel was the last man sitting in last year's All-Star game and has seemed to have taken that as motivation to dominate the NHL this season.
Kessel now ranks second in goals and third in points in the NHL with 23 goals and 46 points.
He's a dynamic player who can score off of the rush and is determined to make it to the net when on the rush.
Look for Phaneuf to choose his fellow Maple Leaf teammate and save him the waiting.
Team Alfredsson's Second Pick: Erik Karlsson
Karlsson's 32 assists currently rank second in the NHL behind only Vancouver's Henrik Sedin.
This draft looks like it is turning into a battle of locals against foreigners, but Karlsson has played well enough to where this selection should not come as a surprise to many.
Karlsson is only 21 years of age, so his 37 points in 41 games are quite remarkable considering the ineptitude of the young Ottawa roster.
Team Phaneuf's Second Pick: Claude Giroux
Giroux leads the NHL in points despite missing a few games with concussion-like symptoms.
Anyone who leads the NHL in points would make an excellent top choice in the NHL fantasy draft, but I'm sure Giroux will settle for fourth overall.
Giroux is an excellent playmaker, with 30 assists, he sits at third in the NHL in assists, and he is a big reason for the Flyers' early season success.
Look for him to set up a few in the All-Star game itself as well.
Team Alfredsson's Third Pick: Steven Stamkos
Stamkos leads the NHL in goals with 28, five more than Toronto's Phil Kessel.
Need any more reasons to select him with this pick?
I didn't think so.
Team Phaneuf's Third Pick: Nick Lidstrom
Dion Phaneuf is a defenseman and understands the importance of good defensive play.
"What's that? Nick Lidstrom is one of the best defensemen of all time?"
Well, in case you haven't been following hockey for the last two decades, Lidstrom is the best defenseman of the past two decades.
Lidstrom was also a plus-seven as last year's All-Star game captain, and his team won 11-10.
Good enough reasons for Phaneuf to select him with this pick.
Team Alfredsson's Fourth Pick: Tim Thomas
It's about this time in the fantasy draft when both captains realize that they have yet to select a goalie.
With the fourth pick for his team, Alfredsson will select Tim Thomas, the soon to be Vezina Trophy finalist.
Thomas will go first because even though he has less wins than Detroit's Jimmy Howard, he has a lower GAA and a higher save percentage.
Team Phaneuf's Fourth Pick: Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard has been the game's best goalie in terms of games played.
Howard has 24-9-1 record and has five more wins than his nearest competition.
Howard's numbers are slightly worse than Thomas's in terms of GAA and save percentage, but he is still in the top eight in goalies for both categories.
He will make an excellent addition with his defenseman Nick Lidstrom.
Team Alfredsson's Fifth Pick: Henrik Sedin
It's no secret that the NHL's best playmaker is Canucks' forward Henrik Sedin.
Sedin leads the League in assists with 38 and is tied for the lead in points with 48.
He has 196 assists over his past two-and-a-half seasons.
It may, however, come as a surprise to some that he is being taken this late in the draft, but due to the previously mentioned teammate obligations (Alfredsson with Karlsson and Spezza, and Phaneuf with Kessel) he has fallen to No. 9 overall.
But Henrik comes off the board here and plays with Team Alfredsson.
Team Phaneuf's Fifth Pick: Daniel Sedin
Anyone surprised here?
Just like they've been doing their whole lives, the Sedins are selected one after the other, and Dion Phaneuf likely knows better than to let them play on the same team.
Daniel Sedin comes off the board here at No. 10 overall, ranking in the top nine in goals, assists and points, just four points back of his brother.
That's all for now, but I will have more fantasy draft mock draft coverage in my next article.
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