Oh, Phil …
The 2012 NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft is scheduled for Thursday night, as Team Zdeno Chara (with Joffrey Lupul!) and Team Daniel Alfredsson (with Henrik Lundqvist!) select their rosters. In the process, they'll determine which NHL star forward will be sitting all by his lonesome while his peers take cell phone pictures of him for Twitter.
From the NHL:
A coin toss will decide first pick, with Alfredsson and Chara, joined by their assistant captains, alternately drafting the 38 remaining All-Stars through 19 rounds. Each team will consist of three goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards. To ensure that the final draft picks are true selections and not simply predetermined due to position requirements, each team's three goalies must be picked by the end of Round 10 and each team's six defensemen must be picked by the conclusion of Round 15.
The 12 Rookies participating in the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition will be divided by the National Hockey League into two groups of six. At the completion of the 15th round of the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Player Fantasy Draft, one NHL Rookie will be selected to choose which All-Star team his group will join for the skills competition.
The NHL Foundation and the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund each will donate $10,000 on behalf of the All-Star selected with the final pick of the Draft to the grassroots hockey program of his choice.
Who will be this year's Mr. Irrelevant? Your predictions, and justifications, in the comments please; here's how we see the field.
Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers
Sports wagering site Bovada had Hartnell as the odds-on favorite for the last pick in the Draft at 6-to-1, which makes sense when you consider (a) he's probably agitated the [expletive] out of everyone in the draft not named Claude Giroux during his career, (b) he was an injury replacement and (c) he's the kind of good-natured goofball that could laugh it off and play the part of the short kid in gym class.
However, he and Lupul are boys going back to Joffrey's days with the Flyers, both as linemates and as members of the infamous "Old City Gang" that eventually was asked to sail to the Dry Island. So there's always that connection working in his favor.
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: HOWEVER, Lupul told Hartnell that Chara doesn't like him very much. And Chara, we're sure, can be very convincing … so there might still be a chance Hartsy goes lasty.
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
He's an unassuming 22-year-old with no discernible connection to either team. He's the kind of guy who just wants to maintain as low a profile as he can, telling NHL.com: "Hopefully I can just hide in the weeds down here still. I like it down here. I'm fine with (being underrated)."
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: Good. It's entirely possible TSN begins to sign off from the Draft before it realizes Jamie Benn is still on the board.
Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres
The Toronto Sun and NHL.com had him last in their fantasy draft, which really isn't fair to Pominville: It's not his fault Thomas Vanek should have been here instead of him. That's no guarantee that Pominville will in fact be selected last, although someone of great potential perilously dropping down the ranks into the basement would be an appropriate representative of the Buffalo Sabres' season.
Then again, he and Chara seem rather attracted to each other:
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: Pretty good. But if he's depressed about it, he can just borrow some of Ryan Miller's Joy Division or Cure albums to wallow.
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
He attended the All-Star Game as a rookie last season, so he knows from the Phil Kessel flop sweat as the picks get lower and lower. Could easily end up as the last pick in a feat of "East Coast Bias" solidarity between the captains and their assistants.
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: When I asked him about the draft format last year, he said "I think some feelings could be hurt." There's a chance he could test that theory.
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
It's a little thing we like to call "seniority," people. Eberle is an injury replacement, and 21-year-old player with no ties to either team. Well, save for both he and Lupul being a part of the Chris Pronger trade.
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: He doesn't have Taylor Hall's stardom, nor is he the sensation that is the Nuge. He's pretty much the Peter Brady of hockey, before the smokin' hot reality TV show (now ex-)wife.
Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins
Why is he on this list? On the off chance that Team Chara lets the sophomore sensation linger until the end, selects him last and the Bruins captain grabs the mic to say "and that's why you don't oversleep for team meetings, Friendo ..."
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: There's a better chance you'll find Tim Thomas speaking at the Democratic National Convention.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
A borderline All-Star this season, Kane is an American like Kessel and has the kind of divisive personality that could lead to the last pick — with half the hockey world feeling sorry for the lovable scamp and the other half pointing and giving him the Nelson Muntz laugh.
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: Once Marian Hossa is selected by Team Slovakia, er, Chara, we expect he'd throw his Blackhawks buddy a lifeline before he hits rock bottom.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Because he's Corey Perry. Also, because, outside of Kessel, he's the lowest-drafted returning player from last year's All-Star Game, having gone No. 29 overall. Also: he's Corey Perry.
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: Not likely, despite the overwhelming evidence that he's Corey Perry.
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
There's virtually no way that Team Chara/Lupul doesn't select Kessel at some point or that Team Alfie/Lundqvist doesn't have the heart to prevent this embarrassment from revisiting him.
But wouldn't it just be sinisterly amusing if this was Phil Kessel's lot in life: Making the All-Star Game, being the last pick, and collecting more automobiles than Kars 4 Kids?
He could be the NHL's answer to Matt Damon on Jimmy Kimmel: An enormous star that, due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, just keeps getting bumped off the main stage every show.
Chances He'll Be Selected Last: Despite how glorious it would be — Brian Burke's reaction, we mean — there's a reason Lupul was named to Team Chara, and it was to ensure another Leaf didn't end up in the last chair.