When the NHL announced that it was to create the All-Star teams for the Annual Classic by a live draft, the first thought in most peoples' minds was:
"Who will have the shame of being the last standing"
To soften the blow to the 6th goalie and the last defenceman taken, the league put in some rules to ensure these were picked by an earlier deadline. (They also softened the blow to the least deserving forward, er defenceman, when they made him an assistant captain with exemption from the draft)
But guess what. someone will still have to be picked last. What's more, with the use of cunning and guile we can all figure out who the last defender and goalie picked were anyway.
As Canadiens fans, we don't have the luxury of being from a city in the US where the NHL is really trying to promote itself right now, so we only have on representative at the game.
Carey price nearly won the write in ballots, but the always humble Penguins fans stuffed the boxes for their goalie before Christmas when his stats were so Un-Star. Carey made it anyway, either on merit or because every team has to have one representative -- you tell me.
In any case, what this all means is that just about the only reason to watch any of the festivities this weekend for the hardcore Habs fan is to see where Carey price will be selected. It should give a new barometer on Price -- what opposing players think of him.
Mock draft results
Ahead of the actual draft, one of the most popular things to do for people with 3 minutes to spare is to do a mock draft and publish it in their newspaper or on their web page. In these drafts, the columnists either pick who they'd select (credible?) or pretend to be Staal and Lidtsrom and pick that way (less credible?).
In order to get an idea of the odds for Carey, I had a browse through about 9 mock drafts to see where he stood (NHL I, NHL III, TSN, Cgy Herald, Can Press, SI, SN, Broadstreet Hockey).
At this point, I'd have to say that Carey Price is the odds on favourite to be selected with the very last pick of a goaltender. The chips seem to fall mostly this way:
1) Cam Ward
Those pretending to be Staal all took him first. Given that Staal is the one picking, it seems plausible that he might go for Ward.
7 first, 1 second, 1 fourth (never after Price)
2) Tim Thomas
The best goaltender in the league this year (and over the past few years) gets relegated by Ward, but no further.
2 first, 4 second, 3 third (once after Price -- TSN)
3) Jonas Hiller
The best save percentage over the last few years, a solid and consistent bet is recognized as such.
1 second, 3 third, 2 fourth, 3 fifth (twice after Price)
4) Marc-Andre Fleury
Having to earn a selection without an internet vote may prove harder for MAF. The pundits knock him down the few notches his career stats deserve.
3 third, 3 fourth, 2 fifth, 1 sixth (twice after Price)
5) Henrik Lundqvist
Lidstrom is Swedish, and Lundqvist is pretty reliable to a standard.
2 second, 1 fourth, 4 fifth, 2 sixth (thrice after Price)
6) Carey Price
One big fan in Darren Dreger, but also openly mocked by some fantasy drafters. He was the clear last choice form the limited selection here.
1 second, 2 fourth, 6 sixth
On form alone, Carey would probably fare a bit better.
This season, he is tied for fifth among the All-Star goalies in save percentage, with 0.920, good for 13th in the NHL (tied with Ward). Carey's been good, but the league standard has gone up. He's been better at keeping the goals down, as he's 9th leaguwide in that regard (2.36) and better than both Hiller (2.50) and Ward (2.70). So let's say if this game wasn't in Carolina, then Carey would be well ahead of Cam. Then again, if it wasn't in Carolina, how would Shanahan explain Ward over Pavelec or Rinne?
If we take a regular season only view and remove playoff accolades and blushes, then Carey is also slightly better than both Ward and Fleury for a career.
Sorry folks, but unless this game is suddenly moved to a different venue, it looks like GAA numbers won't be enough to save Carey's uneasy stand until the 10th round of this draft.
If there's something we've learned about Carey in his short career, however, it's that thinking he has something to prove is a better mode than thinking he's proved something already. As far as the Habs go, it may be good for Price to add a little chip to his shoulder for the next time he faces Staal, or Richards, or St. Louis.