B/R Experts' Fantasy Draft for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2015

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 19:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins tries to get past the defense of Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals on March 19, 2013 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The NHL released its All-Stars on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET, the perfect time to allow the league's players to shine and receive the attention that they so richly...hey turn off the NFL playoffs and look at this! The All-Star Game is set for Sunday, January 25 in Columbus, Ohio, and while we don't know the teams yet, we know the participants.

There will be a fantasy draft Friday, Jan. 23 in Columbus with team captains choosing sides. In the spirit of the fantasy draft, Jonathan Willis and myself drafted our own teams, and Lyle Richardson cast judgment on our rosters. What follows is the draft, potential line combinations and Lyle's decision on who has the better team.

The draft (Willis selected first)

2015 All-Star Game draft, Team Willis vs. Team Lozo
RoundTeam WillisTeam Lozo
1Sidney CrosbyZemgus Girgensons
2Steven StamkosEvgeni Malkin
3Jonathan ToewsPekka Rinne
4Tyler SeguinClaude Giroux
5Alex OvechkinJakub Voracek
6Anze KopitarVladimir Tarasenko
7Phil KesselRick Nash
8Ryan GetzlafRyan Johansen
9Patrick KaneShea Weber
10Drew DoughtyCarey Price
11Duncan KeithJohn Tavares
12Mark GiordanoKevin Shattenkirk
13Sergei BobrovskyBobby Ryan
14Ryan Nugent-HopkinsOliver Ekman-Larsson
15Ryan SuterRoberto Luongo
16Dustin ByfuglienNick Foligno
17Brent BurnsTyler Johnson
18Patrice BergeronBrent Seabook
19Patrik EliasRadim Vrbata
20Jimmy HowardJustin Faulk
21Corey CrawfordErik Johnson
Bleacher Report

As you can see, Willis took Jimmy Howard, who suffered an injury about an hour later. In theory, he'd get whoever replaces Howard should he not be able to play in the All-Star Game. I took Zemgus Girgensons first, because nobody cares about this game except Latvia, so I'm here to get my team supported by the one country that will feverishly watch this game.

The line combinations

How are we ordering our lines, defense pairings and goaltenders? Glad you asked.

Team Willis roster
Left wingCenterRight wingLeft DRight DGoalie
Team Willis

Team Willis seemingly has more offensive talent, but what good is Phil Kessel on the fourth line when you have the three worst goaltenders available? Can a team be too deep? We will find out.

Team Lozo roster
Left wingCenterRight wingLeft DRight DGoalie
Team Lozo

Team Lozo is loaded in net with goaltenders who can steal games so they can definitely steal a period. And my middle two lines have been assembled for comedy purposes: The Cherry Hill Line with Ryan-Giroux-Voracek will draw millions of Philadelphia Flyers fans from the South Jersey area, while the Columbus Connection will taunt Blue Jackets fans about what could have been if Rick Nash stayed, which is only funny for me.

The independent analysis

Now that the teams have been presented, here's what Lyle believes would be the outcome of a game between Team Willis and Team Lozo:

Lyle: Examining both rosters, I have to give the edge to Team Willis over Team Lozo.

Lyle: Lozo definitely has an edge in goaltending with Rinne, Price and Luongo over Willis' selections of Bobrovsky, Howard and Crawford. Yes, Bobrovsky's the only Vezina winner in this bunch, but Lozo's netminders have better stats this season.

Willis' top pairing of Keith and Doughty are two of the NHL's top defensemen, combining overall skills with championship pedigrees. Giordano and Suter play a solid two-way style. Lozo's blue-line corps isn't chopped liver, headed by Weber, Seabrook and Shattenkirk. Still, Willis has the depth advantage here.

Up front, Lozo opted to go with youth and All-Star rookies, most notably Tarasenko, Voracek, Johansen, Johnson and All-Star voting winner Girgensons. He's also got a good mix of veterans, notably Malkin, Giroux and Tavares.

Willis countered largely with well-known veterans who have more All-Star and championship experience. Lots of recognizable big-game stars such as Crosby, Stamkos, Ovechkin, Kopitar, Toews, Kane and Getzlaf. In my opinion, that puts Willis over the top.

Granted, NHL All-Star Games are really just no-contact pond hockey where defensive hockey is a suggestion rather than a rule. However, I still believe Team Willis' veteran-laden All-Stars would stomp the proverbial mudhole into Team Lozo.

The final world

Lyle is wrong. Team Lozo 15, Team Willis 10.

Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @DaveLozo.