The 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend is underway. The skills competition was Friday night and the All-Star Game itself will be Saturday at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida, with coverage beginning at 3 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+. The first matchup will pit the Central Division against the Pacific Division.
Which superstars will dominate the game, which personalities will shine brightest, and what else are we excited about seeing? Our panel is here to debate those very questions.
Ryan S. Clark: Watching the Central have Kirill Kaprizov, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar on the ice while the Pacific counters with Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Erik Karlsson. Or -- and granted this is not a combination -- but Bo Horvat getting an opportunity to score against Ilya Sorokin would be something.
Emily Kaplan: They won't be on the ice at the same time, but I'm looking forward to seeing Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin and Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin interact as teammates. The two Russians play for massive NHL rivals, but I think it's an under-covered story that they came over to North America as extremely good friends. Will be fun to watch them chat it up on the Metro bench and likely help each other out.
Arda Ocal: I'm looking forward to Bo Horvat being on the ice with the Pacific team, because inevitably Horvat will either score on his own net intentionally or hit Elias Pettersson with a steel chair and take off his Pacific jersey to reveal an nWo shirt.
Kristen Shilton: I would love to see the Atlantic roll out a line of David Pastrnak, Mitch Marner and Nikita Kucherov and just let 'em fly. There's about a bajillion points netted between them and just imagine some of the tic-tac-toe plays they could come up with. The most fun part of the All-Star Game (I think) is actually getting to go full-on video game mode, throw your best talents out there all at once and let them roll.
Greg Wyshynski: The NHL tells me that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are partnering in some fashion during the trick shot competition, and that might break the internet. Watching these two bond at the All-Star Game -- sitting together and watching the younger generation at play like a hockey version of Statler and Waldorf -- has been a real joy in recent years, and not something a lot of us imagined happening at the height of the Sid vs. Ovi wars.
Clark: Someone will refer to Fort Lauderdale and/or Sunrise as "South Beach" when South Beach is an hour away in traffic and in another county.
Kaplan: Somebody, at some point, will back check.
Ocal: Connor McDavid will not score a goal. Only apples.
Shilton: At least one goaltender will successfully attempt a two-pad stack save.
Greg Wyshynski: The jerseys go down as some of the best in the event's history and make the hockey world embrace pink, black and light blue as a color combination.
Clark: The Pacific Division with Bo Horvat getting MVP because why not?
Kaplan: I'm feeling the Atlantic Division, with Aleksander Barkov MVP. He'll be the one to back check.
Ocal: The Metropolitan Division will win and Ilya Sorokin will be MVP.
Shilton: I'm going with the Atlantic Division, with David Pastrnak getting the MVP love.
Wyshynski: The Metropolitan wins because it's impossible for coach Rod Brind'Amour not to take this all very seriously. Jack Hughes wins MVP and follows his Las Vegas magic trick by making his 2024 luxury SUV disappear.
Clark: Jack Hughes. He's been arguably the most dangerous player in the NHL going into the All-Star Game. He only had one game in January in which he did not record a point. Otherwise, he finished the month with 13 goals and 23 points. Think about that. He scored 26 last season and just scored 13 in a single month. The way he's played over the last month and the whole season makes you wonder what he could do in Sunrise.
Kaplan: All Star is an amazing weekend for players showcasing their personalities, since it's such a relaxed environment. So I think some of the low key (or high key, depending on your fandom) funny guys in the league -- Andrei Svechnikov, David Pastnrak, Artemi Panarin, Kirill Kaprizov, both Tkahuck brothers -- will shine.
Ocal: I'm going to pick a goaltender. Sorokin will pitch a shutout and make 24 saves in one period.
Shilton: I feel like the All-Star Game always produces some great stuff from the goaltenders. It's so rare they get to express their personalities on the ice (there isn't, like, a Michigan goal for goalies is there?) and I suspect it'll be a netminder providing the golden quote of the afternoon or doing something outrageous on the ice that ends up on our highlight reels for days.
Wyshynski: Nick Suzuki has hidden talents we haven't even seen yet.