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NHL skills competition: Can anybody challenge Shea Weber in the hardest shot contest?

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The NHL’s All-Star skills competition takes place on Saturday evening in Los Angeles. You can watch all of the action on NBCSN starting at 7 p.m. ET, or online via our Live Stream which can be found right here.

On Friday, the NHL announced the players that will be participating in each event, including the team skills relay and the new four-line challenge.

Now that we know who is doing what, let’s try to pick some winners when it comes to the three individual challenges.

DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting

Who’s in it: Kyle Okposo vs. John Tavares; Auston Matthews vs. Sidney Crosby; Patrik Laine vs. Connor McDavid; Patrick Kane, Jeff Carter

Who will win? Tavares and Kane have actually won this event in the past, and the odds on favorites (according to Bovada) to win each individual heat are Tavares (-150), Crosby (-130), McDavid (-120), and Kane (-140). Tavares would seem to be the odds on favorite overall, but I am going to go with rookie sensation Patrik Laine from the Winnipeg Jets.

Not only does he already have one of the best shots in the league (that he will also get to show off in the hardest shot contest), he has pinpoint accuracy with it as well.

Bridgestone NHL Faster Skater

Who’s in it: Brad Marchand vs. Cam Atkinson; Nikita Kucherov vs. Taylor Hall; Vladimir Tarasenko vs. Bo Horvat; Nathan MacKinnon vs. Connor McDavid

Who will win? Dylan Larkin broke a nearly two-decade old record belonging to Mike Gartner in this event last season and there might be one or two players in this group that can challenge his mark (Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid) and they just so happen to be going head to head in one of the heats.

MacKinnon’s acceleration is on par with that of an Olympic speed skater, while McDavid simply plays the game at a different speed than everybody else.

McDavid seems to be the odds on favorite to take this one and is my pick, not only to win the competition, but to also break Larkin’s record of 13.172 seconds.

Oscar Mayer NHL Hardest Shot

Who’s in it: Victor Hedman vs. Seth Jones; Shea Weber vs. Alex Ovechkin; Patrik Laine vs. Brent Burns; P.K. Subban vs. Drew Doughty

Who will win? This is always the event everybody wants to see, and this year should be no exception because it’s a pretty impressive — and intriguing — list of competitors. We already talked about Laine’s shot up above, and you have him going up against Brent Burns who is in the middle of an historic offensive season for defenseman. Shea Weber, who has dominated this event the past two years and ended Zdeno Chara‘s five-year run at the top, goes up against one of the league’s all-time best goal-scorers (and players) in Alex Ovechkin. You also have P.K. Subban, the player Weber was traded for over the summer and the owner of a pretty dangerous shot, in this event as well.

Not only has Weber won it the past two years but he has challenged Chara’s all-time record of 108.8 miles per hour, checking in at 108.5 and 108.1 the past two seasons.

There are a lot of great shots in this field, but Weber still seems to be in a class all on his own.

He takes it for a third consecutive year.

Ekblad out again, this time with a sore neck

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It’s not concussion-related, Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe told reporters today — but defenseman Aaron Ekblad woke up this morning with a sore neck and will miss tonight’s game against Arizona.

Ekblad had only just returned to the lineup after missing four games with a concussion. He logged 18:14 in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Carolina.

And now he’s out again.

Certainly, the timing of Ekblad’s latest injury, not to mention the fact it’s a sore neck, will lead many to doubt Rowe’s assertion that it’s not concussion-related.

But Rowe said before the Hurricanes game that the club was being cautious with its 21-year-old star defenseman.

“We didn’t want to rush him back because he’s such a young guy,” said Rowe, per the Miami Herald. “With a concussion, we didn’t want to rush him back.”

Stars’ Janmark won’t play this season, and there’s a ‘question mark’ about next year

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In a season filled with injuries, one of the biggest Dallas suffered this season was Mattias Janmark‘s knee issue.

The 24-year-old Swede has missed the entire season thus far, but recently resumed skating and practicing with the club. That said, Janmark confirmed he won’t play this year — meaning he’ll miss the entire 82-game campaign.

And what’s more, he might miss games next season as well.

“I think there’s a question mark (about next season), but we don’t know to what degree yet,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff, per the Dallas Morning-News. “He’s progressing nicely. He still has a ways to go, but I think the fact he is practicing now and has gone this far always gives a guy like that a better chance for next year.”

Janmark’s original injury occurred during the preseason, when he knee locked up in a game against Colorado.

“He had a small segment, approximately 21 millimeters by 11 millimeters, that became displaced and is locked in his knee,” GM Jim Nill said at the time. “It’s the bone and the cartilage, they both came off together.”

Janmark underwent surgery to correct the issue, but his recovery was plagued by a preexisting congenital condition called osteochondritis dissecans. Nill said the likelihood of a full recovery was 80 percent.

Losing his services was a big blow for Dallas. After surprising onlookers by making the team out of camp in ’15-16 — a “great story,” according to Nill — Janmark had a pretty successful rookie campaign, scoring 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games.

He also fared well in the playoffs, with five points in 12 contests.

Janmark’s contract situation complicates things. He’s a pending RFA, currently in the last of a two-year, $1.6 million deal with an $733,750 cap hit. The Stars would (presumably) like to keep him, but the uncertainty regarding his health might made negotiations difficult.

Fehr injures hand, spotted in cast following Leafs debut

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Eric Fehr finally played his first game as a Maple Leaf on Wednesday night, suiting up for the first time since being acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline.

It didn’t go especially well.

Fehr, who logged 10:44 TOI in a 5-2 win over Columbus, suffered a hand injury while blocking a shot in the third period and was seen afterward wearing a cast, per TSN.

According to the Toronto Sun, the 31-year-old forward confirmed he spent the night in hospital.

While a break or fracture might rule him out for the remainder of the season, it’s worth noting Fehr won’t be done entirely in Toronto. He’s in the second of a three-year, $6 million deal with a $2M cap hit. Prior to joining the Leafs he appeared in 52 games for the Pens, scoring six goals and 11 points while averaging just under 11 minutes a night.

He was also a regular in last year’s Stanley Cup run, scoring three times in 23 games.

Though his role decreased, Fehr was still frequently used by head coach Mike Sullivan — albeit in a more limited capacity. He is a good PK contributor, and can play both center and wing. Those were some of the attributes the Leafs were hoping Fehr could bring down the stretch and, should they make it, into the postseason.

He’s back: With 10 games left, Isles recall Halak

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The Isles are in full playoff push mode, and on Thursday made a move to bolster their chances.

Jaroslav Halak, the veteran netminder that’s been in AHL Bridgeport since early January, has been recalled ahead of New York’s crucial three-games-in-four-days stretch, the club announced.

It’s the latest in what’s been a tumultuous move for the 31-year-old. Halak opened the year as part of an uncomfortable three-goalie rotation — along with Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube — and was soon on the trading block after agent Allan Walsh criticized the setup on Twitter.

With no takers — and after then-head coach Jack Capuano called him out for his poor play — Halak was placed on waivers, and sent to the minors.

Halak has been really good in Bridgeport. He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, there’s a shot Halak could be making a start for the Isles soon.

As mentioned above, the club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in last night’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

The Isles head to Pittsburgh on Friday, then host the Bruins on Saturday, then host the Preds on Monday. The Boston game looms large because, after last night, New York found itself just two points back of the B’s for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Per Newsday, there’s a real chance Halak will face the Pens on Friday, which would open the door for Greiss to take on the Bruins the following day.