TORONTO — Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid won the $1 million NHL All-Star Skills competition Friday night in Toronto, an event he helped the league redesign this season.
McDavid helped the NHL revamp the skills competition with a back-to-basics approach. The field of players was limited to 12 stars in an effort to build more competition for the $1 million prize. The NHL also jettisoned its pre-taped events and trick-shot competition to reorient the competition back to pure hockey skill challenges.
Each player competed in four of the first six events, earning points for their finishes. The top eight players after those events advanced to the 1-on-1 goalie challenge, and then the top six to the final obstacle course challenge.
McDavid opened up the competition by winning fastest skater for the fourth time in his career, finishing in 13.408 seconds. That was just ahead of New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal (13.519), an injury replacement for New Jersey Devils star Jack Hughes, who defeated McDavid in the event at the 2020 All-Star Weekend in St. Louis.
The one-timer event featured guest passers in Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Chicago Blackhawks rookie sensation Connor Bedard, making his first appearance since breaking his jaw in a game on Jan. 5. It appeared Boston’s David Pastrnak won the event, but the scoring was changed after reviewing one of his shots. Instead, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon won with 23 points.
There was also some controversy in the passing challenge, as it appeared Vancouver Canucks star Elias Pettersson didn’t get his final pass off before the buzzer. But it was judged that he had the puck in motion so it counted, giving him 25 points and the win over Colorado’s Cale Makar (23).
Makar won hardest shot (102.56 mph) in a close competition with Vancouver’s J.T. Miller (102.34).
McDavid won his second event with a time of 25.755 seconds in the stickhandling challenge, and then his third in the shooting accuracy competition with a time of 9.158 seconds. That event featured guest passers in Professional Women’s Hockey League stars Sarah Nurse and Blayre Turnbull, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs legends Steve Thomas and Doug Gilmour.
Eight players advanced to the One-on-One event, where skaters selected which All-Star goalies they wanted to face.
William Nylander of the Leafs had the first pick as the eighth-place skater, choosing Los Angeles Kings goalie Cam Talbot and scoring nine points against him. Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev won $100,000 as the top goalie in the event, stopping McDavid on nine shots after being the last goalie selected.
The six players that advanced to the final event were McDavid, Barzal, Makar, Matthews, Nylander and Miller. Makar led the obstacle course event with a time of 43.435 seconds entering the final round, with McDavid needing to finish second or better.
McDavid won the event in 40.606 seconds to claim the $1 million prize.
The NHL All-Star Game is Saturday afternoon, featuring a 3-on-3 tournament pitting four teams drafted on Thursday night against each other.