Flyers vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Staal Ensures Hometown Bias at Fantasy Draft

Friday, 01.28.2011 / 10:14 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Staal Ensures Hometown Bias at Fantasy Draft
Faced with the pressure of making the first overall pick in the first-ever All-Star Fantasy Draft, Eric Staal went with what he knew best.

Paul Branecky
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Staal chose Cam Ward, his long-time teammate with the Hurricanes, with his first pick in a personally successful draft that also saw him land brother Marc at No. 13 and teammate Jeff Skinner at No. 21. With Jamie McBain also joining up for the SuperSkills competition, Team Staal is assured of full support of the hometown crowd throughout All-Star Weekend.

”It’s going to be an unbelievable experience to go out on the rink and have the home crowd cheer for you the whole time,” said Ward.

Although not nearly as wide eyed as the 18-year-old Skinner has been throughout the process, the experience was also a new one for Ward, who became an All Star for the first time in his career this season. If he had any butterflies about being in the same room as the game’s veterans, one couldn’t tell from the swagger he brought to the stage after Staal’s opening pick.

“I was the best player available, I guess,” he said, shaking off the notion that Staal’s captaincy and playing for the host team had anything to do with his lofty selection.

He later clarified that he was joking, as if there was any doubt, but still expressed the need to justify his place in the draft over the next few days. He also said that his selection came as a surprise.

“(Staal) wouldn’t tell me anything about what he was going to do to before the draft,” said Ward. “He wanted me to sweat it out.”

Staal had a good poker face, as he had his mind made up all along.

“I had to win the puck toss (for the first pick), but once I managed that, that was where I wanted to go,” he said. “He would have done the same thing for me.”

Another entertaining moment came when host James Duthie interviewed the still-available Marc Staal in the crowd just before the 11th pick. Moments after Marc, a defenseman with the New York Rangers, called his brother “classless” for leaving him on the board, Eric stepped up to the podium and delivered a brilliant piece of deception.

“We select, from the New York Rangers…Henrik Lundqvist.”

All was forgiven in the next round, when Staal admitted to feeling somewhat bad for his joke and drafted his brother. Still, he gave a simple answer as to whether or not his public slight was intentional.

“Yes,” he quickly said.

Eric pleased the home crowd when he selected Jeff Skinner to Team Staal.

With Ward, Marc Staal and even fellow Thunder Bay native Patrick Sharp on board, all that was left for Eric Staal was to draft the rookie sensation from the locker next door. Skinner joined Team Staal in the 11th round, with the likes of Brad Richards and Corey Perry still there for the taking.

Even so, the selection may have come too late for the crowd of adoring Caniacs watching at the Raleigh Convention Center.

“They were really giving it to me every time I stepped to the podium, yelling ‘Skinner! Skinner! Skinner!’” recalled Staal. “I was thinking, ‘He’s the youngest guy here, I can’t take him this early.’”

“He didn’t say much to me, but I had a feeling he was going to pick me at some point,” said Skinner.

McBain made a clean sweep for Hurricanes on Team Staal when the Edmonton Oilers’ Taylor Hall, the first overall pick in this past summer’s NHL Entry Draft, won a puck toss and sent his group of six rookies to Team Lidstrom. That left McBain’s group, led by the San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture, to Team Staal.

Staal was also responsible for making the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel the last pick in the draft, as he chose Colorado’s Paul Stastny with the penultimate pick. In exchange for the dubious honor, Kessel was awarded a car and a charity donation in his name.

Teams Staal and Lidstrom hit the ice for the SuperSkills Competition at the RBC Center on Saturday before competing in the All-Star Game the following day.




1 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
2 x - NYR 75 47 21 7 228 177 101
3 x - TBL 77 47 23 7 249 201 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 DET 75 40 23 12 220 206 92
7 WSH 76 41 25 10 223 188 92
8 BOS 76 38 25 13 201 196 89
9 OTT 75 37 26 12 218 203 86
10 FLA 76 35 26 15 190 207 85
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 76 31 33 12 168 194 74
14 CAR 75 28 36 11 174 204 67
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50


E. Staal 70 21 28 -12 49
J. Faulk 75 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 74 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 70 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 73 11 20 -12 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 71 8 17 -13 25
J. McClement 75 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 47 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 39 4 16 -7 20
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60