NHL announces return of player draft to 2024 All-Star Weekend in Toronto

The NHL is throwing it back to 2011, when it first introduced the player draft to it's all-star festivities.

Who could forget the infamous
Who could forget the infamous "Phil Kessel NHL All-Star Draft" of 2011? (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL unveiled some details surrounding a shake-up to the 2024 All-Star Game on Monday.

Ahead of the skills competition and tournament — which will be held in Toronto the first weekend of February — the league will be debuting NHL All-Star Thursday, which will feature the return of a player-run draft and a 3-on-3 showcase between PWHL players.

The PWHL, the newly-formed top women’s pro league, is kicking off its inaugural season this year — with teams situated in Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa and Toronto.

The NHL will select the first 32 players, giving each team a representative and the remaining 12 players will be voted by fans, rounding out a pool of 44 players for a four-team, 3-on-3 tournament. The league will nominate a captain for each team and pair them with a celebrity to help draft their squad. The NHL had previously implemented a player-draft in the 2011, 2012 and 2015 All-Star games.

“We felt like that was something that was a really fun piece in past years,” said NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer. “We started to hear our fans, our players, ask, ‘What about the draft?’ And we’ve seen some other leagues doing it after we did it first, and we were like, ‘you know what? I think it’s time for us to bring it back.’”

In 2015, Phil Kessel was awarded a free car as a consolation prize for being the last pick in the draft. The car was a running joke throughout that year's all-star weekend, with Alex Ovechkin holding up a piece of white paper that said “I want to be last I need a car,” written in black ink.

Mayer didn’t want to give away too much about this year's format, although he did reveal that there will be something humorous for the final four picks and players will be in street clothes and skates during the draft.

“They’re not going to be wearing uniforms,” Mayer said. “They’ll be dressed up. But we’re going to have them put their skates on, and when they get picked, they’ll skate over to their new team.”