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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
We play captain, pick our All-Star squads

By ESPN.com

After the fans had their final say Tuesday, Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun filled out their 2011 NHL All-Star rosters in our first ESPN.com All-Star draft.

And there is a lot on the line for our two gurus (see what's in store for them after they make their selections at the bottom of the blog).

Burnside: Well, my friend, the All-Star fan voting is complete, and apparently only fans in Pittsburgh and Chicago have access to computers, given the starting lineups. But never mind that! The news of the day is that you and I have been named captains of the two ESPN.com All-Star squads and will now be picking our teams for the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Raleigh. Big prizes await the winner in this clash of the titans, trust me (and trust our bosses, who have yet to fully inform us what riches await the winner!).

Not sure what I will call my squad, but yours should be called Snowball's Chance.
Because I am the king of largesse, I will give you the first pick. Lead on, MacDuff, and, well, you know.

LeBrun: Well, given that I have captured the Toronto Media Hacks Hockey Pool title twice in six years and you have won it ... well, never ... I guess I'm really worried about losing to you in this little competition. But without further ado ... drumroll please ... the LeBrun All-Stars are proud to select first overall in the 2011 All-Stars draft: Steven Stamkos.

OK, I believe Sidney Crosby is obviously the best player on the planet, and many people will think I've lost my marbles here, but first-time All-Stars always give this game a little more juice and Stamkos will want to put on a big-time show. Besides, I think it's such a joke that fan voting had Evgeni Malkin ahead of Stamkos in balloting, so I felt the need to correct a wrong right off the bat. Apres vous, mon ami.

Burnside: Already overthinking the issue. Good. My first pick: Sidney Crosby. Enough said.

LeBrun: Well, I knew if I didn't let you draft a Penguin, you'd pout because you've taken up a second residence in Pittsburgh. The LeBrun All-Stars next pick: Alex Ovechkin. He loves All-Star games.

Burnside: Like the fans, I'm all over the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin.

LeBrun: Give me Martin St. Louis to play alongside his pal, Stamkos.

Burnside: I will deny you a Tampa reunion. Brad Richards.

LeBrun: I will take both Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel and afford you the next three picks in exchange. Fair deal, my friend?

Burnside: Who drafts like that?! OK, fine. I will take Corey Perry, Henrik Zetterberg and Dustin Byfuglien.

LeBrun: We get to make up the rules as we go along, which is the best part. First defenseman off the board! Well done, Scotty. Next up, the LeBrun All-Stars would like to welcome Henrik Zetterberg to the fold.

Burnside: Just like every draft I've ever been in with you. I took Zetterberg in the last round!!! Try again.

LeBrun: Oh yeah, sorry, lost focus. OK, next up the LeBrun All-Stars, we'll take Nicklas Backstrom to play with Ovi.

Burnside: Just to make you eat your liver, Nicklas Lidstrom. Might just put the "C" on him, too.

LeBrun: Wow, that's a low blow, even for you. You know how much I wanted Lidstrom. What a joke that he was fourth among defensemen in fan voting. Fourth!!!! OK, the LeBrun All-Stars next take Corey Perry, Anaheim.

Burnside: Perfect. Twice in three picks you've tried to take one of my players! Try again.

LeBrun: Oops, hahaha, I did it again. All right, give me some Jonathan Toews, Conn Smythe Trophy winner!

Burnside: Now you are on track. I will take Matt Duchene from the high-powered Avs. Try and stay away from him now.

LeBrun: I'm proud to add Toews' red-hot teammate, Patrick Sharp.

Burnside: Sharp is having a great season, but my squad is all about balance ... so Kris Letang joins the boys.

LeBrun: Come on down, Anze Kopitar! You are a LeBrun All-Star!

Burnside: I'm all about spreading the NHL love, so I will take Rick Nash, who might still be bitter about being denied All-Star Game MVP honors in Atlanta.

LeBrun: Well, we can't forget hometown boy Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes. You're a LeBrun All-Star.

Burnside: You got me there, partner. I had my eye on Staal, but was too slow off the mark. Instead, I will take Marian Gaborik of the Rangers.

LeBrun: Scotty, you'd better hope Gaborik gets invited! Which makes me wonder ... we haven't taken big-time players Pavel Datsyuk or Ryan Getzlaf because they are currently out with injuries. Who knows whether they'll be back in time. OK, next up for the LeBrun All-Stars, my good pal Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

Burnside: That is a shocker. I will go with red-hot John Tavares. Someone has to have an Islander.

LeBrun: Next up -- no shocker here, either -- fellow Hearst, Ontario, native Claude Giroux of the Flyers. Oh yeah, baby! And that completes my forward group.

Burnside: Who's next for you, Kris King? Or what other Northern Ontario boy will join your snowball squad? I will next go with Jarome Iginla of the Flames. Because, once again, there's gotta be a Flame.

LeBrun: Well, I'd better start picking blueliners. Since you stole Lidstrom from his proper place on the LeBrun All-Stars, I will proudly select Drew Doughty. Hopefully, his slow start won't keep him out of the All-Star Game.

Burnside: Since I'm on a one-and-done kick, give me Toronto sniper Phil Kessel.

LeBrun: To continue my run on D-men, give me Shea Weber of the Preds.

Burnside: With my last forward pick, I'm going to take one of the great surprise stories of this season, top-10 scorer Loui Eriksson.

LeBrun: Next up for the LeBrun All-Stars ... Keith Yandle of the Coyotes.

Burnside: Well, there's one player who certainly deserves to be there, and I'm going to take him based on that, Tobias Enstrom to go along with teammate Big Buff.

LeBrun: How about 12-goal man Brent Burns of the Wild? You have to pick a player from that team, don't you? He's a LeBrun All-Star.

Burnside: Because the Sabres have to have one representative, and Derek Roy is out for the season, I'll take Jordan Leopold.

LeBrun: I'll take Duncan Keith because we know he'll be there via fan voting.

Burnside: Ugh, you stole Keith from me. Well, one player having a good year for a bad team in Ottawa ... let's take Erik Karlsson of the Senators.

LeBrun: Let's show some support for Ducks leading defenseman scorer Lubomir Visnovsky.

Burnside: I'm done on defense, so I'll start in goal. How about Vezina Trophy-bound Tim Thomas.

LeBrun: Time for goalies, indeed. Because I know he'll be there, I'll take Marc-Andre Fleury.

Burnside: That is a bold pick on your part. But I will go with the hometown hero and former playoff MVP (well-deserving of that award) Cam Ward of the Hurricanes.

LeBrun: Well, I can't pass up a chance to snap up Carey Price of the Habs. He might be the only Hab there if Tomas Plekanec doesn't make it.

Burnside: I will complete my All-Star team with Jonas Hiller, who is having a quiet All-Star-caliber season for the Ducks.

LeBrun: You took the wrong guy from SoCal my friend. Step on up, Jonathan Quick.

Well, that wraps up our first ESPN.com All-Star draft. Hopefully, you'll owe me a beer once this game is played, Scotty. Can I offer you a trade already?

Burnside: Nice try. I will expect payment in full on that Sunday evening.

[Editor's note: The winner of the esteemed ESPN.com All-Star draft will not have to do predictions for two weeks; the loser will have to pick every game Monday-Friday for one week. The winner will be determined under a points system (2 points for a goal, 1 point for an assist, aggregate plus/minus, 1 point for each save and minus-3 points for each goal-against) and revealed after the Jan. 30 game. Also, if Nicklas Lidstrom is not officially selected as an All-Star captain, we will ensure Pierre LeBrun's threat of showing up to the press box in his underwear will NOT happen.]