It’s that time of year again. The NHL is into the second half of the season, teams are getting bye weeks, and the 2024 All-Star Game is upon us.
The NHL does a pretty good job of making the All-Star game unique. The skills competition was something I always tuned into when I was a kid, and I still do now with children of my own. Then there’s the game itself with its fresh jerseys every year, and formats that change on a regular basis. One year it's North America against the World, then it’s East vs West. It's team captains and a draft this year.
Regardless of one’s rooting affiliations, most fans tune in to see the game. They also tune in to see the fastest skaters, which player has the hardest shot, and what kind of antics would come up in the breakaway challenge.
The stakes are even higher this year, as 12 All-Stars will be competing in the various skills competitions, with one million dollars going to the player who finishes first. Each player will compete in four of the first six events, with the top eight then moving on to the seventh event. The top six after that event move to the final event—the obstacle course—worth double the points.
Nasty Nate will compete in one timers, passing challenge, stick handling, and accuracy shooting. Makar will participate in the fastest skater, hardest shot, passing challenge, and accuracy shooting.
Makar is one of the smoothest skaters in the league. There’s no denying that. The fastest skater competition, however, is a different beast, especially when wunderkind Conor McDavid enters. The three-time winner sat out last year, but he’s back, and the competition is likely his to lose, as Vegas has McDavid a +110 favorite (risk $100 to win $110)
MacKinnon will compete against stiff competition, including the likes of Nikita Kucherov and David Pastrnak in the One Timer Challenge. MacKinnon has as good odds as anyone else does in this competition and may be the favorite. Nate has the second-best odds at +550 (risk $100 to win $550) odds.
Both MacKinnon and Makar will compete in the Passing Challenge. Both players are dynamic with the puck on their sticks and should fare well in this competition. Makar has the best odds of the skill challenge, as he and Quinn Hughes are +600 favorites. MacKinnon is not far behind, as he has +750 odds to win this challenge.
As goalies across the NHL have found out over the last few seasons, Makar has a tremendous shot from the blue line and pucks off his stick find the back of the net regularly. He has the second-highest odds to win the hardest shot competition, coming in at +320 odds, second only to Elias Pettersson of Vancover.
MacKinnon faces tough competition in the stick-handling challenge. One of the best stick handlers in the league today, MacKinnon has +600 odds to win this challenge, slightly behind all-world Conor McDavid of the Oilers.
To finish their initial portions, both Nate and Cale will be in the accuracy shooting challenge. Snipers in their own right during regular gameplay, it’ll be interesting to see how well they shoot with the pressure on. MacKinnon is +800 to win the challenge, and Makar is +850 to win. Both players trail favorite Auston Matthews of Toronto, who has odds of +650 to win.
Neither MacKinnon nor Makar are favored to win the competition outright, but both have excellent odds to do so, with Makar trailing only McDavid at +700 odds to win the competition. MacKinnon is not far behind, as his odds are +800.
These competitions provide some fun for the viewer, and it brings eyes to the NHL as a whole. Luckily for the Colorado Avalanche, two premier players will have the ability to showcase their talents for the entire world to see. Best of luck to them from Avalanche nation!