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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

Is Rickard Rakell worth $4M per season to the Ducks?

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates during a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks have two significant restricted free agents they still need to take care of, and Hampus Lindholm is easily the most important name to cross off the list.

(Seriously, the analytics community pegs him as a budding star, so the Ducks should probably lock him up for as long and cheap as possible.)

While Lindholm is a must-sign, Rickard Rakell‘s situation is more interesting since it presents a murkier risk-reward debate.

Elevated ground

Rakell broke through in 2015-16, scoring 20 goals and 43 points. He blew away all of his previous numbers while logging more than 16 minutes per game.

His agent Peter Wallen told the OC Register that the team and his RFA client “I think we will find common ground for a solid agreement,” yet one must wonder if Ducks management is trembling at the gamble ahead.

That report ponders a long-term deal that would net Rakell around a $4 million cap hit, something that the Hockey News backs up.

Kadri’s six-year, $27-million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which pays an average of $4.5 million per season, is probably the upper limit of what Rakell is set to earn, while Coyle’s five-year, $16-million deal with the Minnesota Wild, an average of $3.2 million per season, is likely the low end. The most likely comparisons boil down to two players, then, with Rask and Backlund each having signed their current deals over the course of the past 13 months.

For a budget-conscious team like the Ducks, betting big on Rakell could be especially risky.

Cushy gig

If the 23-year-old does land a generous deal, he should send Bruce Boudreau a “Thank You” note or three. Rakell began a whopping 60 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone in 2015-16, putting him in a great position to maximize his chances.

His most common skating partners were Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Sami Vatanen and Lindholm to boot.

One shouldn’t penalize Rakell for seizing his opportunities, but with a limited sample size of the young forward being a difference-maker, you have to wonder how much his value has been inflated.

***

The OC Register explains the advantages of locking him up for a longer term (avoiding arbitration years, not having to risk an even bigger deal if Rakell pans out), yet a “bridge deal” might be the better way to go here.

Replacing Boudreau with Randy Carlyle was a polarizing decision, yet that the Ducks face some other tough calls this off-season.

Report: Blue Jackets on the verge of signing Sam Gagner

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on before a face off against the New York Rangers on April 7, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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It sounds like Sam Gagner may determine his destination for 2015-16 in the near future.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets are close to signing Gagner to a one-year, one-way deal. Such an agreement might not be made official until Monday, according to Portzline.

After a bumpy season with the Philadelphia Flyers in which he spent some time in the AHL, Gagner must especially appreciate the one-way nature of his next contract.

The Blue Jackets aren’t the only team interested in the 26-year-old, as his name was also connected to the Vancouver Canucks:

It looks like the still-quite-young scorer will get a clean slate after bouncing around and being defined by a bloated contract originally signed with the Edmonton Oilers.

Remember when he broke one of Wayne Gretzky’s records during an eight-point night?

Gagner’s presence could make life easier for the likes of Boone Jenner:

It’s conceivable that Gagner could enjoy a nice rebound season if used in a specialized, protected role. The Blue Jackets may very well be the right fit.

… And on the other hand, the deficits in Gagner’s all-around game could at least provide some John Tortorella rage and entertainment.

Everyone wins.

Former Sabres forward Jochen Hecht calls it a career

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 01:  Jochen Hecht #55 of the Buffalo Sabres against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 1, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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The Mannheim Eagles announced that German forward Jochen Hecht is retiring from hockey.

(It’s OK to be a little bewildered that he was still playing, just don’t be too mean about it.)

Hecht played 833 regular season games and 59 playoff contests at the NHL level, making his greatest mark as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

His last bit of NHL action came in 2012-13, when he scored 14 points in 47 games for Buffalo.

Since then, he wrapped up his career with the Mannheim Eagles, a team he’s sporadically played for since 1994-95.

Honestly, it’s weird to see Hecht in any sweater not related to German’s national teams, the Eagles or Sabres, even though the Blues actually drafted him:

Then again, he could also look odd in a certain Sabres sweater.

Apparently he got the NHL 16 Hockey Ultimate Card treatment:

Plenty of Sabres fans and reporters fondly remember Hecht, so here’s to a nice career.

Yes, it’s really happening: Vegas NHL team installs ice for first time

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Sometimes you just need a reminder that a remarkable thing actually is happening.

Saturday presented the latest evidence that the NHL coming to Las Vegas isn’t just a collective fever dream, as the still-nameless franchise noted that they’ve begun the process to install ice at T-Mobile Arena for the first time.

It’s not the prettiest picture, but it means a lot:

While setting up the first sheet of ice is a physical sign that things are coming together, the front office side will dictate the sort of team that eventually plays on it.

For more insight into that process, Puck Daddy takes a look at Murray Craven, who appears to be a key part of bringing things together … even if it’s difficult to nail down a specific title.