While every major sport endorses fantasy sports to some degree, the NHL is the first of the major sports to dive into the phenomena that is a fantasy draft.
Kudos to the NHL for catering to the fans as none of the other major sports have. If the NFL had done this, many would be saying that it is why football is the No. 1 sport in the United States. The NHL seems to understand that the All-Star game, while fun for the players, is all about the fans.
In a format never adopted before in any sport two players from each conference selected to be the captains will choose from a pool of 36 players.
The team captains, Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom, were left with the dubious task of deciding if the Sedin twins would play together and whether Lidstrom would allow Staal to draft his teammates, goalie Cam Ward and center Jeff Skinner, to give Team Staal the hometown edge in Raleigh, N.C.
Would Staal draft his brother Marc, a defenseman from the Rangers, as their mother had requested he do?
Each team captain had alternate captains to help them make the picks. Team Staal had Ryan Kessler from Vancouver and Mike Green from Washington. Team Lidstrom had eight-time All-Star Martin St. Louis from Tampa Bay and Patrick Kane from Chicago.
There is also the question to be answered of who would be this draft's "Mr. Irrelevant," the last pick in the draft. Be sure to click through the end to find out.
Here is a recap of each round and which team had the advantage in the round.
A few rules before the first round evaluations:
Team consists of three goalies, six defenseman and 12 forwards. All goalies picked must be picked by the tenth round, with all defenseman picked by round 15. This ensures that the captains will not just fill out rosters and guarantees a forward to be the last pick of the draft.
The coin flip was won by Team Staal. there are four number overall picks in the pool. Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Marc-Andre Fleury and Rick Nash.
Team captain Eric Staal decides to keep the band together and satisfies the fans of Raleigh with Cam Ward. Ward is the only Conn Smythe winning goalie in the draft.
With a little help from alternate captain Marty St. Louis, Lidstrom selects the NHL's leading scorer, Steven Stamkos.
Edge: No brainer in a goal-scoring game, Team Lidstrom
The last time Alex Ovechkin was in Raleigh, N.C., for an NHL draft, he was the first overall pick back in 2004. Not tonight, but alternate captain Mike Green chose the NHL shot leader and his teammate with the third pick. Though not having his best season, look for him to be an MVP candidate in a game filled with offense.
Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith is selected by teammate Patrick Kane.
Edge: Again, in a game filled with offense, the edge has to go to Team Staal.
This round saw the break-up of the Sedin twins for the first time ever. The twins have never played apart.
Team Staal : Selects Daniel Sedin and without hesitation, Team Lidstrom separates the brothers and selects Henrik Sedin.
Edge: Does it really matter? This should be fun watching them play against each other.
Round five saw the second goalie and top Vezina Trophy candidate for this year selected.
Selects Columbus Blue Jackets stud Rick Nash
Selects the best goalie in the draft, Tim Thomas. Thomas is an amazing 24-5 with an amazing 1.81 goals against and a save percentage of .945
Edge: I love Nash, but my goodness, is Tim Thomas having a season or what? Edge to Lidstrom.
Henrik Lundqvist and his seven shutouts (tied with Tim Thomas for league lead) join Cam Ward as the second goalie taken on the team. Lundqvist is on pace for his sixth straight 30-win season.
Selects the first player from the NHL's best team at the All-Star break. Danny Briere is on pace for a career year in points and a 40-goal season. Briere was the 2007 All-Star game MVP.
Edge: Team Lidstrom, as Lundqvist can be had on any given day.
After much anticipation and the urging of his mother, Eric Staal selected NY Rangers defenseman and his younger brother, Marc Staal.
With the help of former Blackhawks teammate Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien became pick No. 14. Byfuglein is also on pace for a career year with 16 goals and 25 assists. He also leads the league with three overtime winners.
Separating Stanley Cup Teammates, Eric Staal selected Blackhawks leading scorer and his Thunder Bay teammate Patrick Sharp.
Patrick Kane stepped up to the podium and said, "I can't believe I'm gonna do this, but I will take Jonathan Toews." Am I missing something?
Edge: Team Staal on this one, Sharp is on an island in this game as the only Blackhawk on Team Staal. He's an inside MVP pick if you're in a pool.
With each team having to have drafted their three goalies by the tenth round and three still available after nine rounds, the run begins.
Having already drafted two goalies, Team Staal selected San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle. Boyle was undrafted 16 years ago and finally got to don the jersey on the big stage.
Marc-Andre Fleury is 22-6-2 in his last 30 games and is the major reason the Penguins boast one of the NHL's best defenses.
Edge: Flower is as clutch as they come and could be the closing goalie on Sunday. Edge goes to Team Lidstrom.
Team Staal: In closing out their selection for the goalie position, they select Montreal netminder Carey Price. Price is 24-16-5 with a save percentage of .921 and a goals against of 2.36 per game. Price is making his second All-Star appearance.
Team Lidstrom selected their second consecutive and last goalie in selecting the Anaheim Ducks' Jonas Hiller. Hiiler is just the second Swiss player to make the All-Star game. Hiller is 25-16-3 this season and is currently the hottest goalie in the NHL.
Edge: Team Lidstrom, as I said Hiller is hotter than Price.
In satisfying the "Caniacs" Eric Staal kept all the Carolina Hurricanes on the same team in selecting Forward Jeff Skinner. Skinner just 18 years old is the youngest player to ever participate in any of the four major sports All-Star teams.
The only 18-year-old player ever to play in the NHL All Star game was current Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and GM, Steve Yzerman.
I personally can't believe he went this late but Dallas Stars center Brad Richards rejoined former Tampa teammate Marty St. Louis with pick No. 22. Richards is on pace to eclipse his career-best 91 point season from last year. St. Louis and Richards played together on the Bolts Stanly Cup winning team in 2004.
Edge: Richards joins a team that is deep on defense his offense will be a welcome need, even with Stamkos and Sedin. He will see quite a bit of time in this game and is my sleeper pick to be the MVP.
Keith Yandle is the only Phoenix Coyote is the game and he, like Letang, has already surpassed his career year in points. Yandle had 41 points through 82 games last season and has 44 through 51 this season.
Edge: Even. Although I like Letang's toughness a little more, there is no toughness in this game.
Brett Burns and Patrick Kane
Claude Giroux. Captain Eric Staal has clearly decided to go with firepower as his strategy and this pick continues that trend. With just two Flyers in the game, Stall splits the teammates as Danny Breire was chosen with pick No. 12 by Team Lindstrom.
Giroux is having a great season in Philly; he has surpassed his career high in goals and through just 51 games has tied his career high in points with 47 at the All-Star break.
Seems to be headed in the familiarity direction with his draft strategy. Pick number 26 was again defense for Lidstrom as all defenseman must be drafted by the end of round 15.
Brett Burns of the Minnesota Wild was the pick and not a bad one. Drafted in the first round by the Wild in the 2003 entry draft Burns has double digits in goals and assists at the break (G 14, A 17)
Edge: Team Staal with Giroux's offense.
Erik Karlsson was the 15th pick of the first round in the 2008 entry draft. Karlsson has emerged quickly and averages 23 minutes of ice time for the Ottawa Senators.
Martin Havlat is the second consecutive Minnesota Wild player taken by Team Lindstrom. The Czech-born player, taken by Ottawa in 1999, has 14 goals and 30 assists in 49 games this season.
Edge: Team Staal
Getting down to the end, I will start covering two rounds in one slide.
Round 15- Corey Perry is perhaps the best skilled agitator in the game. He has 82 penalty minutes with 51 points.
Round 16- Patrik Elias has not played in an All-Star game since 2002. In a year that has the New Jersey Devils as one of the worst teams in the league, Elias has 13 goals and 24 assists. When was the last time an All-Star game had just one Devil?
Round 15- Anze Kopitar only dropped this far because of the rules for where the goalies and defenseman had to be drafted. The Kings young gun, Kopitar has 49 points in 50 games.
Round 16-Matt Duchene was the Avalanche's third overall pick in the 2009 entry draft and he has not disappointed. He is the Avs' leading scorer and barring injury, Duchene will eclipse his totals from his impressive rookie season where he made the all rookie team. Duchene has 20 goals and 25 assists through 50 games.
Edge: Team Lidstrom. Kopitar and Duchene are dynamic and this is their type of game.
Round 17- David Backes threatened that whichever captain did not pick him would get hit in the All-Star game. He has fought Toewes, Perry and Nash, so the small threat of some physical play is possible, very small. Backes leads the St. Louis Blues in scoring.
Round 18- Center Paul Stastny is second behind Matt Duchene on the Avs with 43 points.
Round 17- Loui Eriksson is second on the Dallas Stars in scoring with 49 points. The Swede is coming off of his career year last season with 71 points.
Round 18- Phil Kessel was the fifth overall pick by the Boston Bruins back in the 2005 entry draft. Tonight he is Mr. Irrelevant. As the last pick in this year's draft Kessel was given $20,000 to donate to his favorite charity and a brand new car. Not bad for the last kid on the lot.
Edge: Team Lidstrom, Kessel is a worthy All-Star with something to prove for obvious reasons, nobody wants to be picked last, regardless of the circumstances.
The rookies got to choose which team they wanted to join for the skills competition. Taylor Hall won the puck toss and chose Team Lidstrom as the captain for his rookie team.
Team Staal: Logan Cuture, C; Tyler Ennis, LW; Michael Grabner, RW; Jamie McBain, D; Tyler Seguin, C; and P.K. Subban, D.
Team Lidstrom: Evgeny Dadonov, RW; Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D; Cam Fowler, D; Taylor Hall, LW; Kevin Shattenkirk, D; and Derek Stepan, C.
Edge: Even but it will be interesting to see Hall and Seguin go head to head.again
We the Fans.
Thank you NHL for finally becoming the first sport to join in the fantasy craze. If I had to pick a team I would choose Team Staal for their firepower over Team Lidstrom's familiarity of teammates. Scoring always prevails in the All-Star game.
From a salary cap standpoint, Team Staal is worth a little over $107 million and Team Lidstrom a little over $105 million.
I'm sure you'll read all about the analysis here on the Bleacher Report, but for now it was a great night for fans of the NHL.