NHL All-Star Game: How Bedard could win $1 million, player draft, event schedule, roster

NHL All-Star Game: How Bedard could win $1 million, player draft, event schedule, roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard was one of 32 players selected to suit up for the NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 3 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the league announced Thursday. The remaining 12 players will be decided through a fan vote, which runs through Jan. 11. Fans can vote at and via X (formerly Twitter) and the NHL App.

Here’s the All-Star Weekend event schedule:

  • Player Draft — Feb. 1, 5 p.m. CT (ESPN)

  • Revamped skills competition — Feb. 2, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN)

  • 3-on-3 All-Star Game — Feb. 3, 2 p.m. CT (ABC)

The weekend kicks off Thursday with the return of the Player Draft. Since 2016, players have been split into four teams based on division for a three-on-three, single-elimination tournament. This year, the NHL will pair four captains with celebrities to draft their teams (nine skaters, two goalies) in a televised event at the arena.

After the draft, a ceremony announcing the Keith Magnuson Man of the Year will serve as a tribute to the 1966-67 Stanley Cup-winning Maple Leafs team. The award is presented annually to former players who “applied the intangibles of perseverance, commitment and teamwork developed through the game into a successful post-career transition.”

Then, some of the best women’s hockey players in the world will square off in a three-on-three PWHL (Professional Women’s Hockey League) showcase to cap off the night. The PWHL began its inaugural season on Jan. 1.

On Friday, the NHL will debut its revamped skills competition, in which 12 All-Stars will compete in multiple events for a $1 million prize. Here’s a breakdown of the new format:

Each player will choose to compete in four of the following six events to earn points based on where they finish in each event:

  1. Fastest skater

  2. Hardest shot

  3. Stick handling

  4. One-timers

  5. Passing challenge

  6. Accuracy shooting

The eight highest point-earners advance to the seventh event: The NHL shootout.

The shootout will feature all eight All-Star goaltenders, and each skater will choose which goalie they want to face.

Two players will be eliminated after the shootout, and the six remaining skaters will advance to the eighth and final event: The NHL obstacle course. Points in this round will be worth double.

The player with the most points after all eight events will be crowned champion and earn the $1 million prize.

“We wanted to do something that the players would have fun with and want to participate in,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told ESPN.

Only NHL All-Stars will be eligible to compete in the skills competition, with the first eight skaters determined by the NHL’s hockey operations department and NHLPA. Fans will vote in the remaining four players.

With $1 million on the table, the league should have no problem convincing its stars to participate. Especially a guy like, say, Bedard.

The Blackhawks’ rookie superstar is the perfect candidate for the inaugural competition. Since the day the Vegas Golden Knights hoisted the Stanley Cup back in June, the NHL has had a singular focus:

Make Connor Bedard a household name.

The league has made extraordinary — and long overdue — efforts to better promote its stars, particularly though its rights agreements with ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery Sports (formerly known as Turner Sports). This revamped, all-around skills competition, set to air Feb. 2 at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN, is a brilliant way to showcase the sport.

Bedard has already been a ratings machine. The two most-watched games of the 2023-24 season so far both featured the Blackhawks, with Bedard’s NHL debut against the Penguins shattering ESPN’s viewership record for the most-watched NHL game in regular season history (excluding outdoor games).

If the hockey operations department and NHLPA have half a brain, he’ll be on the ice with the sport’s most exciting players, performing the sport’s most exciting tricks on ESPN in primetime. And for a chance to double his $950,000 entry-level guaranteed salary, he’ll surely make it one hell of a spectacle.

Finally, the weekend will conclude with Sunday’s three-on-three tournament.

Here are the players, so far, who have been named to the All-Star roster:

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak

Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Dahlin

Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho

Columbus Blue Jackets: Boone Jenner

Detroit Red Wings: Alex DeBrincat

Florida Panthers: Sam Reinhart

Montreal Canadiens: Nick Suzuki

New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes

New York Islanders: Mat Barzal

New York Rangers: Igor Shesterkin

Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk

Philadelphia Flyers: Travis Konecny

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby

Tampa Bay Lightning: Nikita Kucherov

Toronto Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews

Washington Capitals: Tom Wilson

Western Conference:

Anaheim Ducks: Frank Vatrano

Arizona Coyotes: Clayton Keller

Calgary Flames: Elias Lindholm

Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon

Dallas Stars: Jake Oettinger

Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid

Los Angeles Kings: Cam Talbot

Minnesota Wild: Kirill Kaprizov

Nashville Predators: Filip Fosberg

San Jose Sharks: Tomas Hertl

Seattle Kraken: Oliver Bjorkstrand

St. Louis Blues: Robert Thomas

Vancouver Canucks: Quinn Hughes

Vegas Golden Knights: Jack Eichel

Winnipeg Jets: Connor Hellebuyck

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