Elliotte Friedman says there were players in Florida who want to see the All-Star fantasy draft back

Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 year ago
The 2023 NHL All-Star weekend has come and gone, and I think I speak for almost every hockey fan when I say this, thank God.
It’s no secret that this year’s All-Star competition was hard to watch, and the 3-on-3 tournament the following day wasn’t the best, but in my opinion, it was better than the previous night, that’s for sure.
With the news confirmed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be hosting the 2024 NHL All-Star weekend, everyone has started discussing the potential possibilities of what the competition and the game could look like next year.
Everybody has their own opinions of what a perfect NHL All-Star weekend should look like, but it’s what was said in the latest episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast that just makes perfect sense to me.
“When we were still at the airport on Monday morning, before our flight got cancelled, somebody told me that they heard there were a few players on the bench saying they miss the draft [NHL All-Star fantasy draft]. And this goes to another thing I have to say here: I think what the league has to do to the players is say, ‘you guys have to arrange the All-Star weekend.'” – Elliotte Friedman
Friedman also continues a little while later and says:
“I heard there were three of four players who said they like the draft. Alright. Bring back the draft. So next year, on the Friday night in Toronto, I think you open the show with the draft and you do it live on the ice for everyone to see it.”
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been screaming for the NHL to go back to the live fantasy draft for the All-Star weekend for a while now, but what Friedman said on his podcast with Jeff Marek just makes total sense and I think it is a great idea for the league to do.
Whether they do the live draft on the night of the skills competition or the night before like they used to do in 2011, 2012, and 2015, I guarantee you that it will draw more of an audience for the league and who doesn’t love a fantasy draft? It’s the best thing.
In a previous article I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I floated the idea that they could determine the two team captains by the top two leading point-getters at a set date. The following four players on the points list could be alternate captains for their team.
For example, if they did it this year, the two captains would’ve been Connor McDavid (EDM) and Leon Draisaitl (EDM). The four alternate captains (two for each team) would’ve been David Pastrnak (BOS), Nikita Kucherov (TB), Tage Thompson (BUF), and Jason Robertson (DAL).
Now, you could do it the way I suggested, or there could be a voting system that allows the fans to vote for two captains and four alternate captains and only choose between the players that have already been selected as an All-Star. I don’t want another John Scott situation and have non-deserving players make the All-Star team over players having career years. But I mean, congrats to Scott though, he did win the All-Star game MVP.
However, I was always curious why the league stopped with the live All-Star fantasy drafts. According to Jeff Marek, the NHL stopped because they didn’t like how a player would be selected last in the draft.
My initial reaction was the same as both Marek’s and Friedman’s. That might be the dumbest reason ever. Someone’s going to be last in something all the time. They have real-life entry drafts with young players being selected to real teams, and somebody goes last in every round.
What do you think the player who gets picked last of every draft feels? He’s probably ecstatic because he got selected to an NHL team.
Yeah, it probably sucks that you got picked last, but at the end of the day, you’re an NHL All-Star, and you’re one of the best players in the world.
Here’s a quote from James Duthie back during the 2011 All-Star fantasy draft when Phil Kessel got picked last to Team Lidstrom.
“You know what? There is no shame. There are more than 600 players in the NHL. There were only 36 drafted today. There are several hundred out there that would love to be here today.”
Oh, and because Phil was selected last, he won a car and got donations to a charity of his choosing.
So just because a player goes last, it doesn’t matter. The NHL could do the same thing and give the last-picked player a new car and a donation to a charity of their choosing.
Whether they implement the live fantasy draft for next year’s All-Star weekend in Toronto or not, I hope it’s something they start doing again soon. For me, as a kid watching these drafts in 2011 and 2012 and then as a teenager in 2015, it was a lot of fun seeing some of the best players in the league, and some of my favourite players in the league get teamed up with different players from different teams, different divisions, and different conferences.

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