When Head Coach Mike Yeo announced that Wild rookie Nick Johnson would be heading to All-Star Weekend in Ottawa to compete in the skills competition at today’s practice, his teammates let out several congratulatory whoops and cheers.
Although Johnson was aware that he might replace Oilers’ rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the official news came in front of his teammates after practice.
“It will be non-stop for an hour,” said Johnson about his teammates’ ribbing him about the news. “I’m pretty good at deflecting that kind of thing so they’ll probably get bored.”
There is nothing boring about Johnson’s rookie season. In the last game against Dallas, Johnson played on the top line with Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley, and, to start the year, it would have been hard for anyone to predict his impact in Minnesota this season. The Wild claimed Johnson off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sept. 29, 2011.
When asked what skill he’d like to compete in, Johnson said that he wasn’t sure what his best skill in the competition would be, but that he’d like to see how he’d do in the fastest skater competition.
The NHL All-Stars and rookies will participate in six events:
- Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater
- Allstate Insurance NHL Breakaway Challenge
- Canadian Tire NHL Accuracy Shooting
- G Series NHL Skills Challenge Relay
- BlackBerry NHL Hardest Shot
- Tim Hortons NHL Elimination Shootout
All Stars and the rookies will be drafted onto teams by captains Daniel Alfredsson, from the host Ottawa Senators, and Zdeno Chara, from the Boston Bruins. Team Alfredsson and Team Chara will compete for points in the overall team vs. team competition.
At the possibility of being selected last, Johnson laughed and said, “If it happens, I wouldn’t be upset.” Unfortunately, for Johnson, there isn’t a completion for tenacious forecheck, because he’d probably be selected in the top five.
The NHL Skills Competition will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m., and the NHL All-Star Game will be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3:00 p.m.
Captain Mikko Koivu was selected for the All Star Game, but will not play due to an upper body injury.
The team has one final game before the all star break, and leave today for Colorado. The Wild will play the Avalanche tomorrow night, in a nationally televised game on the NBC Sports Network.