Visual Primer: 2018 NHL All-Star Skills Competition

We throw back to 1947 when the NHL played their first All-Star Game. Back then it was the defending league champion Maple Leafs against a squad of All-Stars where dust-ups, hard hits and physical play was the norm.

Earlier this week, the NHL announced the six events that will make up this year’s All-Star Skills Competition and, just like last year, there are some changes.

While the Hardest Shot and Fastest Skater competitions, always fan favourites, remain, there will be some new events along with a couple tweaks to the Accuracy Shooting. One of the biggest changes will be how the focus of the skills competition is on the players this year instead of the teams they play on. There will be no points awarded to divisions for winning an event. Rather, a $25,000 prize will be awarded to the winner of each one.

This year’s Skills Competition will take place in Tampa Bay on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET. And of course, you can watch it on Sportsnet or CBC.

Here’s a look at the six events and the rules behind each one:


Unlike past years, the fastest skater competition will not be a direct head-to-head format. Rather than having two players race against each other at the same time, this year’s event is a time trial. One player chooses which direction he wants to take and then races around the outside of the rink against the clock.

• Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning
• Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
• Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks
• Noah Hanifin, Carolina Hurricanes
• Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
• Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
• Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
• Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

• Each skater completes one full rink lap.
• Skater may choose direction of their lap.
• Skater is positioned a maximum of three feet behind the start line located on the penalty box side of the centre line.
• Skater starts on the referee’s whistle.
• The timing device starts when the skater crosses the start line.
• In case of a clock malfunction, the official time will be recorded by the referee’s stopwatch.

Tie Situation
• If at the completion of the event there is a tie for the fastest time the two players will skate again to determine the winner.


One of two brand-new events this year, the Passing Challenge presents players with three different types of drills to measure who moves the puck the quickest and most accurately. The player who completes the three skills in the fastest time takes home the cash prize.

• Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
• Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
• Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues
• Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
• Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild
• Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
• Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
• Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

• Single round event consists of the following skills:

– Target Passing: Player must complete four successful passes to targets that randomly light up.

– Give and Go: Player must successfully complete the four required passes through the course.

– Mini Nets: Player must complete a pass into each of four mini nets and the game net.

• Each skill must be completed before moving on to the next skill. Referee whistles/signals completion of each skill.

Tie Situation
• If at the completion of the event there is a tie for the fastest time the two players will compete again to determine the winner.


The other new event is the save streak, which replaces the shootout competition. Now, this is a straight-up goalie competition to see who can make the most saves in a row. Each goalie will face at least nine shooters, but their turn cannot end on a save. The goalie who makes the most consecutive saves against oncoming shooters will win the competition.

• Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, vs. Central Division
• Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets, vs Pacific Division
• Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators, vs. Metropolitan Division
• Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights, vs. Atlantic Division
• Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning, vs. Central Division

• Each scoring attempt is officiated in accordance with NHL shootout rules and begins on the referee’s whistle.
• Each goalie will face all players from an opposing division.
• Players from each division will shoot numerically, lowest to highest with the divisional captain shooting last.
• A goalie’s round may not end with a save.
• If a goalie saves the divisional captain’s shot, he will continue to face shooters until a goal is scored.
• Order of shooters after the divisional captain is the same as the original order.

Tie Situation
• If at the completion of the event there is a tie for the longest “save streak” the winning goalie will be determined by the total number of saves made in their round.


Just like the passing challenge, the Puck Control Relay features three different drills that challenge a player’s puckhandling, quick-decision making and speed. The player who completes the course with the fastest time will be named the winner.

• Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
• Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
• Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
• John Tavares, New York Islanders
• Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
• Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
• Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
• Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

• Single round event consists of the following skills:

– Stickhandling: Skater controls a puck through a series of eight pucks.

– Cone Control: Skater with a puck skates through a series of eight cones.

– Gates: As skater approaches each gate, one rung of the gate will light up and the player is required to shoot or otherwise guide the puck through the lit rung.

• Each skill must be completed before moving on to the next skill. Referee whistles/signals completion of each skill.

Tie Situation
• If at the completion of the event there is a tie for the fastest time the two players will compete again to determine the winner.


The classic fan favourite is back without any major changes. Grip it, rip it and the player who has recorded the hardest shot after two tries will be this year’s winner. The all-time record is 108.8 m.p.h. set by Zdeno Chara in 2012. Last year’s winner, Shea Weber, clocked in at 102.8 m.p.h.

• John Klingberg, Dallas Stars
• Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
• P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
• Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
• Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

• Two attempts for each player.
• The six players take their first shot and the speed is recorded.
• Order of shots for second attempt is based on speed recorded in first round – slowest to fastest.
• A single puck is positioned on the ice 30 feet from the centre of the goal. A player, starting no further than the nearest blue line, may skate towards the puck and shoot it from its positioned spot into the goal.
• Shots must be on goal to be calculated and all shots are recorded by radar in miles per hour.
• If a puck enters the goal uncalculated due to a malfunction of the radar equipment, the shooter will be allowed an additional attempt.
• If player breaks his stick he will be given another attempt.

Tie Situation
• If at the completion of the event there is a tie for the fastest speed the two players will shoot again to determine the winner.


Another regular fan favourite, the Accuracy Shooting competition is back, though this time it comes with a new twist — and a fifth target on which to shoot. Featured in this year’s competition is some new technology, which will show the players which target to aim for, rather than the shooter choosing where to focus. As always, this is a timed event, and the winner will be the player who hits all five targets the fastest.

• Brian Boyle, New Jersey Devils
• Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
• James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights
• Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
• Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
• Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
• Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
• Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

• Shooter is positioned 25 feet out from the goal line.
• Player shoots pucks at five LED targets located in net.
• On the referee’s whistle, one of the five LED targets will randomly light up for three seconds and the player will attempt to hit the lit target.
• If target is hit the target will be lit red and be taken out of the random sequencing.
• If target is not hit in the allotted three secs, the random sequence will light up the next target.
• Time stops when the player has successfully hit all five targets.

Tie Situation
• If at the completion of the event there is a tie for the fastest time the two players will compete again to determine the winner.


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