There's another reason for New York Islanders fans to tune into the All-Star Skills competition this Friday night as the league announced that forward Mathew Barzal will take the place of the injured Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils.
Unlike in past years, all All-Stars aren't participating in various skill competitions throughout the night; rather, 12 players were selected to compete in eight events. The first six events are the fastest skater, hardest shot, stick handling, one-timers, passing challenge, and accuracy shooting.
Points will be awarded depending on placement for each of the events, leading to the top eight of 12 skaters moving on to the shootout competition against a goalie of their choice. From there, the top six go on to the final event, an obstacle course that will decide the winner.
The other 11 participants are:
- David Pastrnak, BOS
- Nathan MacKinnon, COL
- Cale Makar, COL
- Leon Draisaitl, EDM
- Connor McDavid, EDM
- Nikita Kucherov, TBL
- Auston Matthews, TOR
- William Nylander, TOR
- Quinn Hughes, VAN
- J.T. Miller, VAN
- Elias Pettersson, VAN
Barzal is no stranger to the NHL Skills competition.
In his first appearance in 2020, Barzal famously edged out defending champion Connor McDavid in the fastest skater competition with a time of 13.175. “You watch him out there, his stride is picture perfect, he never stops moving, said Barzal about McDavid. "I don’t think I could have skated a better lap. I don’t think I could have done it again.”
He gets another chance to beat McDavid and 10 other NHL stars on Friday night. Barzal was the second Islander to win the fastest skater competition after Michael Grabner did it in 2011. Last year, Brock Nelson the the accuracy shot competition, something John Tavares did in 2016 and Adrian Aucoin tied for the hardest shot in 2004.