1) Detroit Red Wings (32-15-1) – Tomas Holmstrom, Hardest Shot. Not because we think he’s got a howitzer hidden away, but mostly because we’d like to see what happened if he put a shot on net when he wasn't sitting on the goalie's head.
With the NHL All-Star Game fast approaching and the skills competition events released, we started to wonder – what players not in the All-Star Game would we like to see compete in any of the skills competition events?
2) St. Louis Blues (29-12-6) – David Perron, Skills Challenge Relay. This is why.
3) Pittsburgh Penguins (27-17-4) – Sidney Crosby, any challenge. Because it would mean he was healthy.
4) Nashville Predators (28-16-4) – Craig Smith, Accuracy Shooting. It seems only fitting to give him the chance to make up for this.
5) New York Rangers (30-12-4) – Artem Anisimov, Accuracy Shooting. After this celebration, it seems right to at least give him the opportunity to back it up.
6) Boston Bruins (31-13-2) – Benoit Pouliot, Breakaway Challenge. Pouliot might be a bit of an enigma on the ice but, with moves like this, who wouldn’t want to see what he could come up with in the NHL’s Slam Dunk Competition?
7) Ottawa Senators (27-17-6) – Chris Phillips, Accuracy Shooting. With 49 shots on net this season and zero goals (not to mention 21 missed shots), Phillips might be entertaining for all the wrong reasons here.
8) Vancouver Canucks (29-15-4) – Roberto Luongo, Fastest Skater. Tim Thomas would be there to pump his tires, so he couldn’t possibly lose, right?
9) Philadelphia Flyers (28-14-5) – Ilya Bryzgalov, Elimination Shootout. Bryz hasn’t stopped a shot during the shootout yet this season. That’s a special kind of awful.
10) Chicago Blackhawks (29-14-6) – John Scott, Fastest Skater. We’d say that John Scott isn’t the fleetest of foot, but we’re afraid he might find us.
11) San Jose Sharks (26-14-5) – Martin Havlat, Accuracy Shooting. Statistically, it wouldn’t be hard for him to do better than the last time he partcipated in this competition.
12) New Jersey Devils (26-19-2) – Kurtis Foster, Hardest Shot. Accurate? Not really. Hard? Ask anyone who’s laid a screen for him in front of the net.
13) Washington Capitals (25-19-3) – Nicklas Backstrom, Skills Challenge Relay. These last few years setting up Ovechkin have got to be good for something, right?
14) Los Angeles Kings (23-16-10) – Dustin Penner, Skills Challenge Relay. He’d get to display those hands of his, though he might be disappointed that the relay doesn’t include a pancake-eating contest.
15) Anaheim Ducks (18-22-7) – Teemu Selanne, Accuracy Shooting. It's time to pick someone for this event who wouldn't embarrass themselves, but would instead put on one heck of a show.
16) Colorado Avalanche (26-22-2) – Erik Johnson, Accuracy Shooting. One goal for every hundred shots this season? We like those odds.
17) Florida Panthers (22-15-10) – Jason Garrison, Hardest Shot. With 13 goals from the blue line this season, it’s hard to imagine that this guy doesn’t have an absolute bomb of a shot.
18) Minnesota Wild (23-18-7) – Cal Clutterbuck, Fastest Skater. Clutterbuck isn’t the biggest guy in the world, yet he’s one of the most feared hitters in the league. He’s got to have one heck of a head of steam to earn that honor.
19) Calgary Flames (23-20-6) – Olli Jokinen, Skills Challenge Relay. There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple seasons about Olli Jokinen losing a step. It would be interesting to see just how true that is.
20) New York Islanders (19-21-6) – Matt Moulson, Accuracy Shooting. Are Moulson's gaudy numbers of his own creation, or is it a byproduct of playing with guys like John Tavares? We’d like to find out.
21) Toronto Maple Leafs (23-19-5) – Mikhail Grabovski, Elimination Shootout. Moves like this are hard to ignore, and the shootout competition would be a great test of his Jedi shootout skills.
22) Tampa Bay Lightning (20-23-4) – Martin St. Louis, Fastest Skater. We’ve seen it before, but it only gets more impressive as St. Louis approaches 40.
23) Winnipeg Jets (22-20-6) – Evander Kane, Skills Challenge Relay. There’s no “Knock Out Matt Cooke” competition, but the Skills Challenge Relay would be a good showcase of what this kid can really do.
24) Dallas Stars (24-21-2) – Eric Nystrom, Accuracy Shooting. First, because he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a beach ball last season. Second, because he’s just a hair behind Steven Stamkos in shooting percentage this year. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
25) Montreal Canadiens (18-21-9) – David Desharnais, Skills Challenge Relay. Maybe it’s just us, but Desharnais was built for the passing portion of this relay.
26) Carolina Hurricanes (17-24-9) – Jussi Jokinen, Elimination Shootout. Jokinen has the best career shootout percentage. It seems to us like a match made in heaven.
27) Phoenix Coyotes (21-20-8) – Mike Smith, Elimination Shootout. Smith has made some pretty great breakaway and penalty shot saves this season. Why not let him make a few more?
28) Columbus Blue Jackets (13-28-6) – Steve Mason, Hardest Shot. Sure, he’s a goalie, but we figure he’s had enough practice firing pucks out of his own net in frustration, he could give Zdeno Chara a run for his money.
29) Edmonton Oilers (17-26-4) – Jordan Eberle, Breakaway Challenge. He’s had a handful of highlight-reel goals in his short NHL career. A stage that allows him to do whatever the heck he wants could only be entertaining.
30) Buffalo Sabres (19-24-5) – Ville Leino, Breakaway Challenge. Really, this is just a way to work Leino into the conversation and remind Sabres fans needlessly that they’re paying him quite a lot of money over the next few years.
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