Connor McDavid wins NHL All-Star skills competition: How Oilers captain clinched the $1 million prize

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TORONTO — Connor McDavid won the NHL All-Star skills competition that he largely designed on Friday night, snagging the $1 million he pushed the league to provide to the winner.

After one of the most excruciating and boring skills competitions in recent memory last year in Florida, the NHL — with a lot of input from the Edmonton star — came up with a new format, featuring just 12 players competing in several events, racking up points along the way and fighting for a $1 million prize. It mostly worked, providing a far more entertaining product featuring only big-name players and focusing on actual hockey skills.

The 12 competitors were Boston’s David Pastrnak, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, Edmonton’s McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Toronto’s Auston Matthews and William Nylander and Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller.

Here’s how it shook out:

Fastest skater

McDavid nudged a cone on his second turn, but still had the juice to edge out Barzal to take the victory by about a tenth of a second. Hughes edged Makar by one one-thousandth of a second for third place in a battle of two Norris Trophy favorites. There was a clock malfunction on the opening skater, so who knows how accurate Nylander’s last-place time actually was?

McDavid: 13.408 seconds
Barzal: 13.591 seconds
Hughes: 14.088 seconds
Makar: 14.089 seconds
Nylander: 14.164 seconds


In a nice touch, Sidney Crosby and the injured Connor Bedard — the game’s elder statesman and its youngest superstar — provided the passes for the one-timer event. Pastrnak appeared to win this one with 24 points, but a late scoring change gave it to MacKinnon instead (each player got nine one-timers, from three spots, and got 0, 2, 3 or 4 points based on the shot’s placement). So through two events, McDavid and MacKinnon — the game’s two best players — were tied for first in the overall standings.

MacKinnon: 23 points (Bedard passing)
Pastrnak: 22 points (Bedard)
Pettersson: 20 points (Crosby)
Draisaitl 20 points (Crosby)
Kucherov 19 points (Crosby)
Miller 18 points (Crosby)
Barzal: 17 points (Bedard)
Matthews: 15 points (Crosby)

Passing challenge

Every competitor but Pastrnak chose to participate in the passing challenge, and it came down to a video review (seriously) as Pettersson hit the smallest target on his last three passes to beat out Makar for the victory with 25 points. The lowlight of the entire skills competition was Kucherov’s half-hearted (quarter-hearted? eighth-hearted?) effort and last-place finish of just five points. Through three events, Pettersson and Barzal were tied for the lead with seven total points, with Makar right behind them at six.

Pettersson: 25 points
Makar: 23 points
Barzal: 21 points
Matthews: 19 points
Nylander: 16 points
Hughes: 15 points
MacKinnon: 13 points
Draisaitl: 12 points
McDavid: 10 points
Miller: 7 points
Kucherov: 5 points

Hardest shot

Makar took the marquee event and the overall lead with a blast of 102.56 mph. Miller was just 0.22 mph behind him, but nobody else broke 100. The top three at this point were Makar (11), Pettersson (10) and Barzal (7).

Makar: 102.56 mph
Miller: 102.34 mph
Pettersson: 97.43 mph
Matthews: 96.22 mph
Pastrnak: 95.27 mph


We can debate whether McDavid violated the spirit of the rules (or the letter of the rules, quite frankly) by not skating backward in the backward-skating part of the stick-handling course, but he won by such a wide margin it probably doesn’t matter. Once again, Kucherov looked like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world, finishing in dead last. Pettersson actually fell down and still beat Kucherov by nearly 15 seconds. Through five events, Makar and Barzal were tied for the lead, with McDavid and Pettersson close behind.

McDavid: 25.755 seconds
Barzal: 26.929 seconds
MacKinnon: 27.715
Nylander 27.272 seconds
Draisaitl: 28.677 seconds
Hughes: 29.038 seconds
Pettersson 29.526 seconds
Pastrnak: 38.488 seconds
Kucherov: 44.178 seconds

Accuracy shooting

McDavid went 4-for-4, Ray Bourque-style, to take this one and take a commanding 15-11 lead into the final two events. Matthews, the last shooter to go, came agonizingly close to beating McDavid in front of his home fans, but had to settle for second place. It was a rough go of things for Draisaitl, who took more than four times longer than his Edmonton teammate to hit all four targets.

At this point, the bottom four competitors were cut, knocking out Draisaitl, Pastrnak, Hughes and, of course, Kucherov, who had a grand total of 0.5 points.

McDavid: 9.158
Matthews: 9.341
Miller: 13.587
Nylander: 14.099
Hughes: 14.185
MacKinnon: 15.958
Kucherov: 16.444
Makar: 19.069
Pastrnak: 19.670
Draisaitl: 46.099


Easily the highlight of the night, this event was so good that it’s hard to believe it took so long for somebody to invent it. First, the skater got to pick which goalie he wanted to go up against, and then he had 60 seconds to score as many goals as he could, with the first five pucks worth one point, and the rest worth two. On top of that, the goalie who made the most saves won $100,000. The winners here were Nylander and Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who was spectacular against McDavid, making nine saves including a slick poke-check. Pettersson and MacKinnon were eliminated going into the final event.

Nylander (versus Cam Talbot): 9 points
Matthews (versus Thatcher Demko):: 7 points
Miller (versus Jeremy Swayman): 6 points
Barzal (versus Igor Shesterkin): 6 points
Makar (versus Connor Hellebuyck): 4 points
Pettersson (versus Jake Oettinger): 3 points
McDavid (versus Alexandar Georgiev): 3 points
MacKinnon (versus Sergei Bobrovsky): 2 points

Obstacle course

As the leader entering the final event, McDavid went last. He only had to finish in second place in order to secure the title, but he finished in grand fashion, winning the event, the competition and the million bucks. Barzal had a chance at the overall win, but was done in by the saucer passes into the mini-nets, taking so long that rink workers had to corral more pucks for him to keep trying.

McDavid: 40.606
Makar: 43.435 seconds
Matthews; 47.271 seconds
Nylander: 49.065 seconds
Miller: 49.351 seconds
Barzal: 76.850 seconds

Final standings:
1. McDavid 25 points
2. Makar 20 points
3. Matthews 18 points
4. Nylander 16 points
5. Barzal 13.5 points
6. Miller 12 points

Required reading

(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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