Picking Winners in 2022 NHL All-Star Skills Competition

NHL, Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NHL, Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

NHL All-Star Weekend begins tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada with the Skills Competition. Familiar events, like Hardest Shot and Fastest Skater, will be on display, while new Vegas-inspired events will also be featured.

Who will emerge victorious in the NHL’s Skills Competition?

In total, there will be seven competitions on Friday that will highlight the different skill sets of each of the NHL’s All-Star participants. Here is the breakdown of the events, including a projected winner in each.

Verizon NHL Fastest Skater

The participants: Kyle Connor (WPG), Adrian Kempe (LA), Chris Kreider (NYR), Evgeny Kuznetsov (WSH), Jordan Kyrou (STL), Dylan Larkin (DET), Cale Makar (COL), and Connor McDavid (EDM)

Both Larkin and McDavid have won this event in the past, with the latter having won three times (2017-2019). Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders was the winner in the most recent competition.

The pick: Connor McDavid. It’s probably the easy choice, but when you boast the skating ability that he does, a strong performance is sure to follow

EA Sports NHL Hardest Shot

The participants: Victor Hedman (TB), Timo Meier (SJ), Tom Wilson (WSH), and Adam Pelech (NYI)

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin would have surely been on this list had he not contracted COVID-19, and he probably would have won the event, having done so in 2018. Instead, the event dominated by Ovi, Shea Weber, and Zdeno Chara will have a new winner

The pick: Victor Hedman. Defensemen typically fare well here, so I will take one of the best in the game to claim the hardest shot crown (but not break Chara’s 108.0 MPH record).

Adidas NHL Breakaway Challenge

The participants: Alex DeBrincat (CHI), Jack Hughes (NJ), Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Alex Pietrangelo (VGK), and Trevor Zegras (ANA)

This event is not always included in the skills competition, and it has not been a part of the festivities since 2016 when P.K. Subban won. This will be the seventh installment of the Breakaway Challenge.

The pick: Alex DeBrincat. Zegras will probably be the favorite to win, but I’ll take this first-time all-star and say that DeBrincat gets a few tips from teammate Patrick Kane, who won this event in 2012.

Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting

The participants: Sebastian Aho (CAR), Patrice Bergeron (BOS), Rasmus Dahlin (BUF), Leon Draisaitl (EDM), Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), Jake Guentzel (PIT), Clayton Keller (ARZ), Troy Terry (ANA), Jonathan Marchessault (VGK)

There are some talented shooters on this list, but none of them have won this event before. In 2020, the most recent competition, Jacob Slavin took home the title. Efficiency usually wins this event, so these players will have little room for error.

The pick: Johnny Gaudreau. He will not be the favorite in this event, but he’s enjoying a nice bounce-back season and is an extremely talented and accurate player.

Dunkin NHL Save Streak

The participants: Jack Campbell (TOR), Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB), Frederik Andersen (CAR), Tristan Jarry (PIT), Cam Talbot (MIN), Juuse Saros (NSH), Thatcher Demko (VAN), and John Gibson (ANA)

This is the lone event that revolves around the goalies, and it’s the fourth year that it’s been a part of All-Star weekend. Marc-Andre Fleury, the event’s first winner, holds the record for the longest streak (14 straight saves).

The pick: Frederik Andersen. He has only faced three shots in the shootout this season, but he’s stopped all three, and with the third-best save percentage in the NHL, he feels like a good candidate to catch fire in this event.

Discover NHL Fountain Face-Off

The participants: Jordan Eberle (SEA), Claude Giroux (PHI), Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA), Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (Team USA), Roman Josi (NSH), Mark Stone (VGK), Nick Suzuki (MTL), and Zach Werenski (CBJ)

This might be the event that I’m most excited to watch. I love the Vegas spin on this Skills Competition this year, and it will be on full display here. With no precedent, this competition feels wide open.

The pick: Jonathan Huberdeau. He leads the league in assists and points, and in an event that appears as though it will test several aspects of players’ games, I’ll go with the player whose game is firing on all cylinders.

Las Vegas NHL 21 in ’22

The participants: Nazem Kadri (COL), Auston Matthews (TOR), Joe Pavelski (DAL), Steven Stamkos (TB), and Brady Tkachuk (OTT)

If you thought the last event was unique, how about this Black Jack-style shooting contest? Again, there is no precedent for this competition, and there is a strategy component to go along with pure shooting ability.

The pick: Nazem Kadri. Everything seems to be going right for Kadri this season. Fittingly, I’ll take him to win this gambling-style event.

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The NHL’s All-Star Weekend is February 4-5 in Las Vegas. The Skills Competition will be on ESPN at 7:30 PM on Friday.