RALEIGH -- When you think of North Carolina, the first thing that comes to mind certainly isn't hockey or the NHL. But in this state's capital city this weekend, hockey has completely taken over as the most prominent sport around. A lot of the excitement might have to do with the NHL's brilliant change in format.
Tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, the NHL's 42 All-Stars will gather in a room at the Raleigh Convention Center for the first ever All-Star Fantasy Draft. Cameras from TSN and Versus will join them and it will be a made-for-TV event, but at its core, it will feel like just another day out on the pond.
Two captains, Nicklas Lidstrom and hometown boy Eric Staal, will be joined by two alternate captains each as they jockey for players and pick their teams one-by-one. For the players on the draft board, it will be a giant game of "I hope to God I'm not last."
Then again, maybe they do want to be last. According to a Tweet by Colorado's Matt Duchene, the last pick will be awarded a car (!), which probably won't even be enough consolation for the amount of jokes that will be made at their expense over the course of the next year or so.
Either way, it just adds another element of intrigue to tonight's NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft. A few more story lines as we head in to tonight's event...
- Who will be selected first? Bodog.com has odds on the first pick, and honestly, their choice of Alex Ovechkin as the first pick is a little surprising. He's sitting at 4 to 1 odds, a tie with Henrik Sedin, who seems to be more of a logical choice for the first pick. Other odds have Sidney Crosby, who's not even playing, at 5 to1 and Tampa's Steven Stamkos at 7 to 1.
- Who will be picked last? We've heard the rumor that this lucky-and-unlucky guy will win a car, but who might that be? Bodog places the odds on Blues forward David Backes. We do know that it will be a forward, since goalies and
- Will the Sedin twins be split up? Many are of the opinion that the Sedin twins have never stepped more than five feet away from each other, but they could be playing on opposing teams for at least the first time in their professional careers if they're selected by different teams in Friday's draft.
- Could someone be awesome and take Jeff Skinner first? You'd think that Staal is the Carolina favorite, but really, the guy these local fans love is Skinner. The rookie defenseman earned a logical, deserved promotion from the rookie roster to the game roster this week as an injury replacement, and if either Lidstrom or Staal took him first, the fans would go absolutely insane.
There are tens of other story lines we could get in to here, but we'll opt just to sit back and enjoy the show. The event will be broadcast on Versus in the United States at 8 p.m Eastern. In Canada, the event will be shown on TSN.