The NHL’s all-star draft is coming to Ottawa.
After going through an informal debriefing following the first experiment with the format, Brendan Shanahan expects it to return in 2012 when the all-star game is held at Scotiabank Place. The NHL vice-president came up with the concept for the inaugural all-star draft that was used in Raleigh, N.C., earlier this year.
“I’ve talked to the players’ association and a lot of the players that played in it, and everybody enjoyed it,” Shanahan said Tuesday during the NHL’s GM meetings. “I think we’ll make some tweaks, but I don’t think we’ll make major changes.”
The player draft was introduced as a way to spice up a stale event. In Raleigh, captains Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom each selected teams during a live televised event that featured a number of barbs between players.
Not everyone was a fan of the format change, including Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke who didn’t like all of the focus placed on Phil Kessel after he was picked last.
However, the Leafs forward didn’t have anything negative to say about the experience.
“A lot was made of Kessel and maybe part of it was because he’s from the Toronto market,” said Shanahan. “But in the end, Phil Kessel, his response was that it was fine and it was funny and it didn’t really matter.
“And he has flourished since.”
One area under consideration is the rules that govern the 18-round draft. In Raleigh, every goalie had to be selected by the time the teams made their 10th pick and all defencemen had to be off the board by the 15th selection.
That ensured a forward would be the last man standing.
“Phil wasn’t the last of 42 (players), by the way — he was the last of the forwards because the (defencemen) couldn’t go last and a goalie couldn’t go last,” said Shanahan. “We might switch it up next year.
“We might set it up so a defencemen goes last.”
What won’t change in Ottawa is there will still be one player left until the end.
In January, Burke suggested the last handful of selections should be pulled out of the hat. But Shanahan doesn’t expect that to happen.
“I think that you can still have a last man standing,” he said. “We had put in all of these mechanisms to have the last six guys get drafted in two groups of three and it was the players that said: ‘We don’t want that, we want to have a last man standing. We want to have a laugh about it.’ ”
In fact, Shanahan believes some players will be looking to follow in Kessel’s footsteps. The Leafs forward received $20,000 for charity and a new Honda CR-Z to soften the blow.
“Now that guy’s sitting there and he’s one of the last three or four, he’s probably hoping he is going to go last,” said Shanahan. “He knows he’s going to get a big cheque for charity and a car.”