The NHL All-Star fantasy draft will take place on Thursday night, but the key word there is “fantasy.” After all the fun of All-Star weekend, the players picked for Team Chara and Team Alfredsson will return to their home franchises, hopefully no worse for the wear.
Zdeno Chara and Daniel Alfredsson are lucky enough to play NHL general manager for a day, something that many fans would envy them for. With the bevy of young talent in today’s NHL, GMs around the league have plenty of options when answering the question of which active player in the league would be the one to build a franchise from scratch around.
Bruins fans are lucky to have two of the league’s most promising young stars at two premium positions. Tyler Seguin will be attending the All-Star festivites as a wing, but will likely shift over to center as he matures and grows into a franchise cornerstone. Tuukka Rask, who is only 24 years old, is similarly having an All-Star caliber season and would very likely have found himself in Ottawa if he wasn’t overshadowed by All-World teammate Tim Thomas in net.
Another 24-year-old, Claude Giroux, could very well be the first pick in the fantasy draft and would be at the top of a GM’s list for starting a franchise around. The Philadelphia winger is having a breakout season and is a big part of why the Flyers are threatening for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
It’s difficult to go for very long talking about potential “franchise players” for long without mentioning Taylor Hall, who was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the same draft Tyler Seguin went second. Along with fellow Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Hall has made the young Oilers one of the most intriguing teams to consider on the rise, despite their lackluster performance in the standings this season.
Along with Carolina’s Jeff Skinner, there is no shortage of young stars around the league ready to step into the spotlight. Some will have a chance to hear their named called during Thursday’s fantasy draft, others may get the chance in the future. However, if you were drafting any active players to start a franchise, whose name do you read off at the podium?