NHL All-Star Draft: The Last Will Be First

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The National Hockey League put a new spin on Matthew 20:16 Friday night.

Looking to spruce up its All-Star Game format and veer from the traditional conference-versus-conference and/or North America vs. World formats, the NHL put the responsibility of picking two teams from its 36 best into the hands of two captains, Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.

During Versus’ coverage of the NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, powered by Cisco, Staal and Lidstrom each picked three goalies, six defenseman and 12 forwards. While Staal wisely went for Hurricane teammate, hometown hero and goaltender Cam Ward, Lidstrom selected Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos.

After 17 rounds, only Colorado forward Paul Stastny and Toronto forward Phil Kessel were left in the talent pool. When Staal stepped to the podium inside the Raleigh Convention Center and opted for Stastny, Kessel was the last man standing.

But rather than the humiliation (and pummeling) reserved for being the last one selected for, say, an elementary school dodgeball game, Kessel was rewarded with a new Honda and $20,000, which he donated to a cancer charity he got involved with when he battled testicular cancer.

Indeed, Stastny’s comments suggested he and some others wouldn’t have minded being No. 36. “I think once it got down to the last five or six, I think we all were hoping one of us would go last, so we’d get that car,” Stastny said. “It was fun the way they did it and it was good to be part of.”

As for the draft, it probably went a little too far along conference lines, with Team Staal reflecting an Eastern bias and Team Lindstrom leaning a little Western (see lists below).

Still, it was a fun event and one that hopefully sets the stage for exciting Versus’ telecasts of  the 2011 Honda NHL SuperSkills competition on Saturday at 7 p.m. and the 58th  NHL All-Star Game on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Versus will face off for ratings against ABC’s coverage of pro basketball’s most-storied rivalry and a rematch of the 2010 NBA Finals as the Boston Celtics visit the Los Angeles Lakers at 3:30 p.m. (ET). The NFL Pro Bowl kicks off at 7 p.m. on Fox.

Team Staal

Eric Staal, F, Hurricanes (Captain)

Mike Green, D, Capitals (Assistant Captain)

Ryan Kesler, F, Canucks (Assistant Captain)

Draft

1. Cam Ward, G, Hurricanes

3. Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals

5. Daniel Sedin, F, Canucks

7. Zdeno Chara, D, Bruins

9. Rick Nash, F, Blue Jackets

11. Henrik Lundqvist, G, Rangers

13. Marc Staal, D, Rangers

15. Patrick Sharp, F, Blackhawks

17. Dan Boyle, D, Sharks

19. Carey Price, G, Canadiens

21. Jeff Skinner, F, Hurricanes

23. Kris Letang, D, Penguins

25. Claude Giroux, F, Flyers

27. Erik Karlsson, D, Senators

29. Corey Perry, F, Ducks

31. Patrik Elias, F, Devils

33. David Backes, F, Blues

35. Paul Stastny, F, Avalanche

Team Lidstrom

Nick Lidstrom, D, Red Wings (Captain)

Patrick Kane, F, Blackhawks (Assistant Captain)

Martin St. Louis, F, Lightning (Assistant Captain)

Draft

2. Steven Stamkos, F, Lightning

4. Duncan Keith, D, Blackhawks

6. Henrik Sedin, F, Canucks

8. Shea Weber, D, Predators

10. Tim Thomas, G, Bruins

12. Danny Briere, F, Flyers

14. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Thrashers

16. Jonathan Toews, F, Blackhawks

18. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Penguins

20. Jonas Hiller, G, Ducks

22. Brad Richards, F, Stars

24. Keith Yandle, D, Coyotes

26. Brent Burns, D, Wild

28. Martin Havlat, F, Wild

30. Anze Kopitar, F, Kings

32. Matt Duchene, F, Avalanche

34. Loui Eriksson, F, Stars

36. Phil Kessel, F, Maple Leafs

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