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With the first choice in the NHL All-Star mock draft we proudly select…

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Photo credit:nhl.com
Vicken Polatian
25 days ago
For the first time since anyone can remember, there’s actually a buzz surrounding the NHL All-Star game. Ugly jerseys aside, it feels like the league finally got something right with regards to the changes made to the weekend. 
A revamped Skills Competition with 12 of hockey’s best competing against one another for a chance at a $1 million prize. We might finally see some effort for a change. 
But our favourite change to this year’s event is the return of the draft. 
Thinking back to the first time the NHL had an All-Star Draft is not a pleasant feeling for Leaf fans. Phil Kessel as the last pick, being laughed at by the entire league was just another embarrassing ‘L’ taken by a fan base which had gotten more and more used to being a laughing-stock in 2011. 
This time will be different.
Hosted by the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time in 24 years, this version of the Maple Leafs has plenty to be proud of. Auston Matthews headlines the Leafs All-Stars as he, and fellow Leaf Morgan Rielly will be co-captains for one of the four teams, and will be joined by local popstar Justin Bieber.
Who will they choose with their first pick? William Nylander? Or Mitch Marner? Who will be picked last?
We here at The Leafs Nation did not want to wait to find out. 
Below is our first ever NHL All-Star mock draft. The draft order was picked randomly, as were the teams we would be making selections for:
1st Pick – Vicken Polatian – Connor McDavid / Leon Draisaitl / Will Arnett
2nd Pick – Bennett Jull – Jack Hughes / Quinn Hughes / Michael Bublé
3rd Pick – Jon Steitzer – Auston Matthews / Morgan Rielly / Justin Bieber
4th Pick – Joseph Zita – Nathan Mackinnon / Cale Makar / Tate McRae
Using a snake draft format, each participant made 9 selections (7 skaters, 2 goaltenders). Our intention was not to pick the best players available to us, but rather to try and draft the way our captain would in the same situation.
So without further ado: 
Team McDavid
Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers (Team Captain)
Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers (Co-Captain)
Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins (1st round, 1st overall)
Brady Tkachuk – Ottawa Senators (2nd round, 8th overall)
Connor Hellebuyck – Winnipeg Jets (3rd round, 9th overall)
Alex Debrincat – Detroit Red Wings (4th round, 16th overall)
Sam Reinhart – Florida Panthers (5th round, 17th overall)
Igor Shesterkin – New York Rangers (6th round, 24th overall)
Travis Konecny – Philadelphia Flyers (7th round, 25th overall)
Tom Wilson – Washington Capitals (8th round, 32nd overall)
Frank Vatrano – Anaheim Ducks (9th round, 33rd overall)
With the first pick of the NHL All-Star draft Connor McDavid selects Sidney Crosby. Having Crosby wait for even one selection would be completely disrespectful to one of the greatest players in NHL history. With the lack of international best-on-best we finally get to see Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid team up, and play side by side. Sorry Nova Scotia, Nathan Mackinnon will have to wait. This was the easiest pick of the draft. Adding Brady Tkachuk started a bit of a theme for the team, in adding some grit to our lineup. A game that usually features very little effort, the strategy was to get as many hard-workers as possible. McDavid and Draisaitl also really understand the importance of goaltending, so grabbing the Vezina favourite Connor Hellebuyck was a no-brainer. McDavid taking his former Erie Otters teammate Alex Debrincat was another not-so-difficult choice. Surprisingly Sam Reinhart, the league’s second leading scorer with 37 goals at the break, fell all the way to the 5th round. After solidifying the goaltending position even farther with Igor Shesterkin, we went back to try-hards. Travis Konecny, Tom Wilson, and Frank Vatrano all have elite motors which is what got them to the All-Star game in the first place. Hopefully, they can use their work ethic to put Team McDavid over the top. 
Team Hughes
Jack Hughes / Jesper Bratt  – New Jersey Devils (Co-Captain)
Quinn Hughes – Vancouver Canucks (Co-Captain)
Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning (1st round, 2nd overall)
JT Miller – Vancouver Canucks (2nd round, 7th overall)
Matt Barzal – New York Islanders (3rd round, 12th overall)
Robert Thomas – St Louis Blues (4th round, 15th overall)
Sebastian Aho – Carolina Hurricanes (5th round, 18th overall)
Thatcher Demko – Vancouver Canucks (6th round, 23rd overall)
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks (7th round, 26th overall)
Vincent Trocheck – New York Rangers (8th round, 31st overall)
Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida Panthers (9th round, 34th overall)
With the 2nd overall selection, I chose Nikita Kucherov. Outside of the captains and co-captains, I believe he’s the best player in the NHL. I was hoping that one of Pastrnak or Petterson would fall to me with the 7th overall choice. Sadly both were taken, so I decided to select JT Miller who currently sits tied for 4th in the NHL with 67 points, the same as Connor McDavid. The chemistry with Quinn Hughes gave him the edge over some others. My 3rd round pick was Matt Barzal, who I’m a major fan of – he’s one of my favourite players to watch. In the 4th round, I chose Robert Thomas from the Blues. It was between him and Sebastian Aho, who fell to me in the 5th round three picks later. Both players are above a point per game. With my 6th round choice, I decided to take a goalie off the board. Looking at our current roster, I wanted to pick a goalie who would have as much chemistry as possible. We routinely see goalies fall in and out of form, and I wanted one that could slide right in and feel comfortable. With two other Canucks on the roster, Demko made the most sense. One round later I chose Brock Boeser. There certainly is a strong Canucks theme, and why not given their strong year thus far. My final player selection was Vincent Trocheck who is a shade below a point per game. Having lived in Pittsburgh for over 6 years I have an affinity for those that hail from Steel City! With my final choice, I needed another goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky fit the bill. I think this team wins, but I could be biased.
Team Matthews
Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs (Team Captain)
Morgan Rielly – Toronto Maple Leafs (Co-Captain)
William Nylander – Toronto Maple Leafs (1st Round, 3rd overall)
Elias Pettersson – Vancouver Canucks (2nd Round, 6th overall)
Kyle Connor – Winnipeg Jets (3rd Round, 11th overall)
Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators (4th Round, 14th overall)
Rasmus Dahlin – Buffalo Sabres (5th Round, 19th overall)
Tomas Hertl – San Jose Sharks (6th Round, 22nd overall)
Jake Oettinger – Dallas Stars (7th Round, 27th overall)
Oliver Bjorkstrand – Seattle Kraken (8th Round, 30th overall)
Cam Talbot – Los Angeles Kings (9th Round, 35th overall)
Writing for a Leafs site and being gifted the trio of Matthews, Rielly, and the Biebs to start pretty much locked me into selecting William Nylander with my first pick. Honestly after that I only had one philosophy and that was that it’s pointless to care about goaltending in an All-Star game, so my bare minimum there was just not wanting to be stuck with both Bobrovsky, and Talbot. Given the fact I actually like Talbot, I’ll consider getting him a win.Pettersson was a bit of a no brainer pick for me and by grabbing Dahlin I felt like I’ve put together the best defensive team in the All-Star Game. So, yeah? I also managed to get all the Swedes in the All-Star game with the exception of Elias Lindholm, (and the post draft inclusion of Jesper Bratt) so that’s gotta be good for team chemistry. If the goal was to draft the best team, I probably didn’t do that. I do have the hometown favourites and generally a fun group with Pettersson, and Hertl. Dahlin is my only non-Leaf Atlantic Division player, so there isn’t much to hate here.
Team MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche (Team Captain)
Cale Makar – Colorado Avalanche (Co-Captain)
David Pastrnak – Boston Bruins (1st round, 4th overall)
Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs (2nd round, 5th overall)
Elias Lindholm – Calgary Flames (3rd round, 12th overall)
Alexandar Georgiev – Colorado Avalanche (4th round, 13th overall)
Clayton Keller – Arizona Coyotes (5th round, 20th overall)
Kirill Kaprizov – Minnesota Wild (6th round, 21st overall)
Jeremy Swayman – Boston Bruins (7th round, 28th overall)
Nick Suzuki – Montreal Canadiens (8th round, 29th overall)
Boone Jenner – Columbus Blue Jackets (9th round, 36th overall)
With my first-round pick for Team MacKinnon, I selected David Pastrnak fourth overall, who I thought was the best player on the board. I wanted to take Sidney Crosby to pair him alongside Nathan MacKinnon for the Nova Scotia connection, but Team McDavid beat me to it. After taking Pastrnak, I grabbed the last Maple Leaf on the board, Mitch Marner, to start round two. After that, my strategy was mainly to draft the best player available while also trying to get some chemistry involved while also selecting an Avalanche player for Nathan and Cale, along with a Flames player for Tate McRae – a Calgary Flames fan who is a celebrity co-captain. I took Flames forward Elias Lindholm in the third round and Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev in the fourth round. From rounds five to nine, as the names were dwindling, I selected two of the Central division’s best wingers, Clayton Keller and Kirill Kaprizov, who add an elite level of skill to this already stacked lineup. I thought it was time to add another netminder to the mix, so I went ahead and grabbed Boston’s Jeremy Swayman to pair him with Georgiev. With my last two picks, I felt I needed more centers, given my winger-heavy lineup. I added Montreal’s Nick Suzuki, 29th overall, and Columbus’ Boone Jenner with the last pick of the draft to complete Team MacKinnon.
Which team do you think is best? What would be your strategy?
Either way, one thing is for certain. This time around, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the stars of the show, and no longer the butt of the joke. We’ve come a long way. 

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