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PHT’s 2012 NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft Preview

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On Thursday, the NHL’s All-Star Player Fantasy Draft will go down at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau-Ottawa, Quebec. (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN.)

Two teams — led by a captain and assistant captain — will select three goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards each. Team Alfredsson will be led by captain Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa) and assistant captain Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers); Team Chara will be led by captain Zdeno Chara (Boston) and assistant captain Joffrey Lupul (Toronto).

Click here to see a photo gallery of all the 2012 NHL All-Stars

As we saw at the 2011 All-Star Game in Carolina, the Fantasy Draft can unfold in an unpredictable manner. Last year it was ‘Canes goalie and hometown favorite Cam Ward going first overall and Toronto’s Phil Kessel suffering the ignominy of being Mr. Irrelevant.

With that said, let’s predict the 2012 All-Star Fantasy Draft!

(But first, a quick overview of the protocol.)

Rules and regulations

— A coin toss will decide first pick with Alfredsson and Chara, joined by their assistant captains, alternately drafting the 38 remaining All-Stars through 19 rounds.

— To ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not predetermined due to position requirements, each team’s three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10.

— Each team’s six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.

For your consideration

1) Home cooking: As we saw in Carolina, hometown players have an advantage. Ward went first overall and 19-year-old rookie Jeff Skinner was taken in the 11th round, nullifying the “veterans first, newbies last” theory many thought would prevail.

Some hometown and local players to consider this year? Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson; Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf and Kessel (more on him later); Montreal’s Carey Price and former Senators Marian Hossa and Brian Elliott.

2) Star Power: Of course, captains could just pick the best players right off the hop. If that’s the case, look for NHL leading scorer Evgeni Malkin to be snapped up quickly along with Claude Giroux, Steve Stamkos and Pavel Datsyuk.

3) Ties that bind: Past relationships tend to play a big role. NHLers have long memories — last year, Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis picked Boston’s Tim Thomas and made a point of mentioning they were former teammates at the University of Vermont, dating back to 1993.

So in that vein, consider the relationships each captain and assistant have:

— Chara has two Boston teammates (Thomas, Tyler Seguin) and two Slovakian Olympic teammates (Hossa, Marian Gaborik) in the draft pool. Chara and Hossa were also former teammates in Ottawa.

— Lupul has Toronto teammates Phaneuf and Kessel, played in Philadelphia with Kimmo Timonen and is good friends with Scott Hartnell. Lupul is also a former teammate of Anaheim’s Corey Perry.

— Alfredsson has his Ottawa running mates (Spezza, Michalek, Karlsson) and his fellow Swedes to choose from: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Edler. Like Chara, Alfie is also a former teammate of Hossa.

— Lundqvist has two Rangers teammates (Gaborik and Dan Girardi.)

3) Guys that went late last year: Kessel, chosen last overall, obviously tops the list, though he swears being Mr. Irrelevant didn’t bother him. It seems there are two ways to go on Kessel — one, make amends for last year and select him near the top of the draft, or 2) keep the joke going and take him with the final pick again.

Other late picks from last year: Perry (15th round, 29th overall), Karlsson (14th round, 27th overall), Giroux (13th round, 25th overall) and defensemen Kris Letang and Keith Yandle, both of whom were taken in Round 12 (23rd and 24th overall.)

PHT Related

Online bookmaker posts All-Star Fantasy Draft odds

Lupul to Hartnell: Chara “doesn’t like you very much”

Jonathan Quick talks All-Star Game, Fantasy Draft

Flames’ Jokipakka (hip) might not play for Finns at World Cup

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 5: Jyrki Jokipakka #3 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Los Angeles Kings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 5, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Jyrki Jokipakka was one of the three Finnish d-men added to the World Cup roster last week but, according to Calgary president Brian Burke, Jokipakka isn’t a lock to play this fall.

“He had hip surgery after the season, and it’s not 100 percent that he’s going to be able to compete in this tournament,” Burke told Sportsnet’s Fan 960. “But the fact he was named recognizes his accomplishments to date, and we’re very proud of [him].”

Jokipakka, acquired in the Kris Russell-to-Dallas deadline trade, appeared in 58 games last year — 18 for the Flames, 40 for the Stars. He finished with two goals and 12 points.

Still only 24 years old, Jokipakka could be a nice piece for the Flames moving forward. He’s 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and was rated highly enough to crack the Finnish roster (granted, the country isn’t overwhelmingly deep on the blueline).

So it’s understandable why the club might be wary of letting him play in the World Cup. In addition to coming off major surgery, Jokipakka is headed into the last of a two-year, $1.8 million deal with a $900,000 average annual cap hit.

Once that expires, he’ll become a restricted free agent.

‘Yep,’ Letang will play tonight

TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Kris Letang #58 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with his teammates Sidney Crosby #87 after scoring a goal against Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Behnken/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang will play tonight. He confirmed it this morning, albeit in rather unusual circumstances.

Letang did not participate in yesterday’s Media Day at the Stanley Cup Final. He didn’t practice either. The Penguins said it was simply a “maintenance day” for their best defensemen, but when it was learned he would hold a press conference this morning, all of a sudden people started to wonder about his status for Game 1 against the Sharks.

He was asked if he was playing.

“Yep.”

So, no problems?

“Nope.”

And that was that.

No explanation was provided about yesterday, but Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said a few minutes later that he was confident that Letang would be able to log his usual amount of minutes.

“Very confident,” said Sullivan.

Penguins center Nick Bonino also confirmed that he’ll be able to go tonight. He didn’t skate Saturday or Sunday, but was on the ice this morning.

Former NHLer Bulis calls it a career

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 23:  Center Jan Bulis #38 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on against the Washington Capitals on December 23, 2005 at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. The Capitals won 4-2.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Jan Bulis, who appeared in 552 games with the Capitals, Canadiens and Canucks, announced his retirement from professional hockey today, per Czech news outlet Ceske Noviny.

Bulis, 38, last played in North America with Vancouver during the 2006-07 campaign, and has since carved out a pretty lengthy career in the KHL, playing for both Mytishchi Atlant and Chelyabinsk Traktor.

Picked 43rd overall by Washington at the 1996 draft, Bulis’ best years came with the Habs. He posted a career-high 20 goals and 40 points in 2005-06 — that year, he also represented the Czechs at the Winter Olympics in Turin (capturing bronze) and at the World Hockey Championships (capturing silver).

Report: Semin will stay in KHL for 2016-17

OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 11:  Alexander Semin #13 of the Montreal Canadiens skates during the NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on October 11, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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It seems there will be no NHL comeback attempt by Alex Semin. At least not in 2016-17.

Instead, Semin has inked a one-year extension with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, according to Sport-Express writer Igor Eronko.

At 32 years old, Semin still could have a lot of years left in him as a professional hockey player, but at this point it wouldn’t be surprising if he has played in his last NHL game. Early in his career his talent was clear and demonstrated by some great showings offensively, but he was plagued by inconsistency. In recent years though, he wasn’t so much inconsistent as he was underwhelming.

After being limited to six goals and 19 points in 57 games with Carolina in 2014-15, the one-time 40-goal scorer was bought out of his five-year, $35 million contract just two seasons into it. Montreal took a chance on him for 2015-16, but he only appeared in 15 games with the Canadiens before they put him on unconditional waivers on Dec. 9.

He’s fared better in the KHL though, with five goals and 14 points in 20 regular season games followed by another seven markers and 15 points in 23 playoff contests.