NHL All-Star weekend gets boost with new skills, trick-shot players

Calgary Flames goaltender Dan Vladar stops a shot by Anaheim Ducks' Trevor Zegras during the shootout in an NHL hockey game. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As NHL all-star weekend fast approaches, the league announced some tweaks to the existing skills competition with some returning events and elements.

For the first time since 2016, fans will be treated to the Breakaway Challenge, where players can show off their skill and creativity in a breakaway setting while being graded by a panel of judges.

The competition will look to show off some of the young talent in the league.

"This is, perhaps in a lot of ways, a way the NHL can bring in some of the younger stars like Lucas Raymond, and perhaps more specifically, Trevor Zegras, who's given the NHL their top highlight of the season with Sonny Milano," Jeff Marek said during the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. "This event is all about trick-shots and props. The NHL has listened to the players and is working with them."

The league has brought in some of the most brilliant trick-shot minds to serve as judges on the panel.

"They have brought in four different trick-shot consultants and it's like a murderer's row," said Marek. "Pavel Barber, who is the legend, Pete Lenes from ELEV802, Zac Bell 'The Hockey Jedi', and Dayton O’Donoghue, a 16-year-old stick handling wizard from Toronto, plays with the Jr. Aeros, she is fantastic."

Moving to the Fastest Skater competition, the contestants are comprised of some of the quickest players in the league.

"It's Vegas, I don't know who I would put my money on with this crew," said Marek.

And the final change? A blast from the past for the old-school hockey fans as Marek puts it.

"We will see in the accuracy shooting, this time around, the return of the styrofoam plates. Yes, we will see messes in the crease."

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