NHL Superskills in Montreal

David PonichContributor IJanuary 21, 2009

This Saturday, the NHL all-star's will be taking part in the HONDA/NHL Superskills competition. During this event, there will be five different events. They are the hardest shot, fastest skater, breakaway challenge, most accurate shooter, Youngstars game, and the elimination shootout.

Here's a look ahead to see who's competing and which players I expect to win each event.

The first event in this competition is the fastest skater. Competing in this event is Jeff Carter, Zach Parise, Brian Campbell, and Jay Bouwmeester. While this is a group of extremely talented skaters, it is unlikely that anyone will be breaking Mike Gartner's record of 13.386.

Jeff Carter could be a heavy favorite with his long legs giving him tons of power. Zach Parise is a tremendously fast skater, however this is once he gets going. Brian Campbell finished second behind Shawn Horcoff at last year's all-star game.

Watching him put it on this year, I believe Brian Campbell will be the first defenceman to win this competition since 2004 when Scott Niedermayer accomplished it.

The second event is the Breakaway Challenge. This event will have a bit different format from last year. The player will get one minute in the offensive zone, and is allowed to do whatever he wants to get that puck in the net and win over the crowd.

Competing in this event is last year's winner Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Ryan Getzlaf, and Alexei Kovalev. Now Sidney Crosby has repeatedly said to the media that he has nothing really big planned because everything has been done. But is he being serious or tricking us so we are extra WOW'ed at the event?

We all know that Alex Ovechkin has something spectacular planned up his sleeve, and that he is the odds on favorite to win. Another interesting thing about this event is that the winner will be determined by text message. The voting will be done during the NHL Youngstars game. 

Everyone in the building and watching at home can text theri choice for which player should win the Breakaway Challenge. Now this could work out for one of two ways: a) the fans really vote in on who brought the best move, or b) everyone in Montreal votes 10 times for Alexei Kovalev only because he is a Canadien.

No disrespect to Kovalev, because there still is a high possibility this Russian sniper could show us a stunning dangle and win the whole thing fairly. No matter the result, this event will most definitely be the highlight of all-star weekend.

Next is the NHL Youngstars taking to the ice. This year the format was changed again as it is now a Rookie .vs. Sophomore game. To me, this game will be not much of a competition as it will be just a blowout.

The Rookies have some grade-A talent in players like Drew Doughty, Luke Schenn, Chris Versteeg, and Blake Wheeler. Unfortunately, they will be without the man making an early run for the Calder cup, Steve Mason. The Sophomore's roster runs on and on with big names like speedster, Andrew Cogliano, giant Milan Lucic, and Devin Steoguchi.

The goaltender for the Sophomores is undetermined at the moment as Eric Ersberg has opted out of the event, looking like Carey Price might take the spotlight for the Sophomores, even though he is still in the real all-star game. So it is most favorable on the Sophomore side however it still should be an exciting event to watch.

After the announcement of the winner of the Breakaway Challenge, we bring out the snipers for the NHL Accuracy Shooting competition. Many players compete in this event such as last year's winner Tomas Kaberle, Jonathan Toews, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla, Dany Heatly, Marc Savard, Mike Modano, and Evgeni Malkin.

All of these players are lethal on the scoresheet so it will most definitely be a close competition with many sudden death rounds I'm sure. Tomas Kaberle could easily take the win again but I believe it will be Jarome Iginla, and Marc Savard who give him a run for his money. Ultimately, I pick Savard to take this one home for the East.

And of course, the one everyone will be waiting for is the Hardest Shot competition. Showcasing the two heavy guns in Zdeno Chara and Sheldon Souray. Also competing in this event is Vinny Lecavalier, Mike Komisarek, Shea Weber, and Mark Streit.

We all know it will come down to Chara or Souray, but don't be too surprised if Weber or Lecavalier come on in and crash the party. For the past two years, Chara has claimed this title with shots coming in at 100.9 and 103.2.

However, this year at the Edmonton Oilers Skills Competition, Souray launched an amazing 106.7 mph shot unofficially beating the NHL record set by Al lafratete at 105.2 mph. This will be the closest competition of the night but I do believe that Souray will have the final say as he shatters the NHL record.

Lastly, every player will take part in the Elimination Shootout event. No crazy moves are needed to be put on here, just get the puck in the net and you move on. Many known snipers and danglers are at this all-star game, so it will be a long and intense event. The finals should come down to Jonathan Toews, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Evgeni Malkin.

This will be a very difficult competition with all the grade-A goaltending in this game. However, Dion Phaneuf did win it last year so it will be very interesting to see some guys shoot in this event, mainly the defence-man. Maybe if Souray just winds up for the slapshot the goalie will move out of the way so that he can have an empty net to shoot at.

This year's Superskills competition should be one of the best. Be sure to tune into it to see some amazing things happen such as Brian Campbell blowing our hats off as he competes for the fastest skater, or Alex Ovechkin making our jaws drop in the Breakaway Challenge.

We will witness the NHL Rookies get their butts handed to them by the Sophomores, and maybe Marc Savard going 4-for-4 on the accuracy shooting. If you watch only one event, it must be the hardest shot to see Chara go head to head with Souray for the title.

Perhaps another defenceman will win the Elimination Shootout, although its more likely for a sniper like Kovalchuk or Malkin to finish the job. No matter the results, this year's NHL Superskills competition will be one for the ages.