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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.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 55 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 53 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 55 12 19 7 31
K. Versteeg 54 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 55 9 21 1 30
E. Lindholm 55 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 48 8 12 0 20
J. Nordstrom 44 5 10 2 15
R. Hainsey 55 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 7 .909 2.34
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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