The NHL's All-Star Weekend kicks off this evening in Raleigh, North Carolina, with what is perhaps the biggest twist to this year's even, the "Fantasy Draft" in which team captains Nicklas Lidstrom and Eric Staal will fill out their rosters. The festivities can be seen on Versus starting at 7:00 p.m. Central time, and we'll have an Open Thread so we can second-guess their selections together and speculate over who will be the last player taken. How highly will Shea Weber get drafted? His pick, both within the defensemen as a group and the broader pool, will be an interesting story to watch. A mock draft at NHL.com has him going in the 4th round (7th overall), as the first blueliner off the board.
For Nashville-related coverage of the weekend, make sure to keep up with Section303.com (@cellblock303 on Twitter), as Jeremy Gover has made the trip to Raleigh to provide updates. Unfortunately, the collective mainstream media in Nashville are staying home for this one, so Jeremy represents our "boots on the ground".
For now, though, follow after the jump for your morning dose of hockey news!
The Preds have 9 home games coming up in the month of February, including Tuesday vs. the Calgary Flames, and next Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings. Save some cash and get yourself some discount Nashville Predators tickets for these, or any other home game.
Timeline for traveling with the Predators - The Tennessean
Cools stuff here, as Josh Cooper chronicles a typical road trip for the hardest working guy in the hockey business, the equipment manager.
Hockey Night in Nashville: Report Card: All-Star Break Edition
Robby hands out the grades, and Mrs. Klein isn't going to be happy.
Red Light District: Can Nashville keep the core intact down the road?
As long as "the core" is defined pretty narrowly (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne), Ryan Porth makes the case that the answer here is "yes". The key here is that young, relatively cheap players (Colin Wilson, SK74, Cal O`Reilly, Nick Spaling, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, etc.) should transition into larger roles and replace higher-paid veterans (i.e Steve Sullivan, J.P. Dumont, Martin Erat) over the next few years.
Spezza returns to practice - Ottawa Citizen
Yes, Mike Fisher is married to Carrie Underwood. No, it doesn't make any sense at all for the Predators to trade for him. He's got two more years on his contract ($4 million, then $3 million), vastly outweighing the value he'd bring to the team.
Admirals Paint Faceoff Circles Green and Gold to Support Packers | Section 303
I'm shocked! Shocked I say, to hear that the Admirals are supporting Green Bay.
Jeff Foss has become Mr. Reliable for RPI hockey team - troyrecord.com
He may not be sensational like Ryan Ellis or Roman Josi, but Preds draft pick Jeff Foss has proved to be a steady defender for RPI (tip o' the hat to the Predators' Kevin Wilson).
Around the NHL
Down Goes Brown: Ten new events to save the all-star skills competition
You gotta like this one: Cory Clouston delivers a fiery motivational speech to members of the Ottawa Senators, who compete to see who can go the longest without rolling their eyes and tuning him out completely.
At the Break : Tom Benjamin's NHL Blog
Hey, at least the Vancouver scribe says Nashville runs "the fastest, most physical trap I’ve seen all year."
A Big Blow | CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG
Well, while it seems that they're not going to lose Keith Ballard to suspension (even though they should), but the Vancouver Canucks will miss Alex Edler for several weeks due to back surgery.
LA Kings Coach Terry Murray Talks All Star Break Plans | Hockey Independent
While the players get a rest, coaches around the league will put their thinking caps on.
Black Dog Hates Skunks: Two Gretzky Stories
Ah, so that's why they call him The Great One.
Bang for the Buck: Which NHL teams get most, least out of their payroll expenditures? - ESPN
Somewhat surprisingly, the Preds don't make the top 5 on this list. Why's that, you ask? Because their payroll is up significantly this year.
Flames’ Conroy leaning towards retirement - The Globe and Mail
It wasn't too long ago that Craig Conroy was providing some decent secondary scoring for the Calgary Flames, but a recent trip through the waiver wire may end his playing career.
Like it or not Leafs GM Brian Burke is in for the long haul - The Globe and Mail
There's been lots of change in Toronto under Brian Burke, but is it progress?
Islanders, Moulson, agree to 3-year deal - Lighthouse Hockey
Good news for Islanders fans, as the team locks up Matt Moulson with a new contract.
Pulling Back The Curtain On NHL Scouting - Houses of the Hockey
Sometimes, a peek behind the curtain can prove disappointing.
Bourne Blog: The NHL is safe in Brendan Shanahan's hands - Puck Daddy
Is there any doubt here? He's the single greatest on-camera off-the-ice hockey player of all-time, no question, so of course he "gets it".
Jen Interviews The Ducks' Guardian - Anaheim Calling
Ripping apart what may be the, um, oddest of the NHL Guardians.