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McDavid dominates to win NHL All-Star Skills competition

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TORONTO — Connor McDavid helped the NHL revamp its sagging skills competition.

The Edmonton Oilers captain then went out and won the US$1-million prize.

McDavid won the fastest skater, stickhandling, shooting accuracy and obstacle course events Friday after assisting the league in re-imagining a part of the all-star weekend that had lost much of its lustre in recent years.

Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar finished second. David Pastrnak (Boston), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado), Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton), Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay), Auston Matthews (Toronto), William Nylander (Toronto), Elias Pettersson (Vancouver), Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders), J.T. Miller (Vancouver) and Quinn Hughes (Vancouver) made up the rest of the field.

Last year's disappointing skills competition in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., featured events on both a golf course and the beach — an overall flop that pushed the NHL to look to rekindle interest from both players and fans.

The skills competition followed Thursday's all-star player draft ahead of Saturday's four-team showcase.

The 12 players took part in four of the first six events — the fastest skater, hardest shot, stick handling and one-timers, plus passing and shooting accuracy — with points awarded to each competitor.

The field was then cut down to eight once goaltenders were introduced for the one-on-one showdown.

Two more competitors were shed heading into the final event — an obstacle course.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was also on the ice along with injured Chicago Blackhawks centre and 2023 No. 1 pick Connor Bedard.

McDavid won the fastest skater for a fourth time, finishing his blazing lap of the Scotiabank Arena ice in 13.408 seconds to top Barzal (13.519), who beat the three-time NHL MVP in the same event in 2020.

MacKinnon won the new one-timer event, which saw points awarded for where the puck hit the net.

Pettersson took the passing accuracy challenge after some fans started to boo Kucherov with the forward appearing to not give enough effort in the event.

Makar won the hardest shot with a 102.56-mile-per-hour blast. Zdeno Chara's record of 108.8 miles per hour from 2012, however, is safe for at least one more year.

McDavid won the stickhandling event with a time of 25.755 seconds. The NHL's points leader this season, Kucherov again ambled through the course, leading to more boos from the crowd.

McDavid, a native of nearby Richmond Hill, Ont., competing in his de facto hometown in a rink where he watched the Maple Leafs growing up, then picked up another win in the shooting accuracy by going 4-for-4 in just 9.158 seconds after finishing second last year.

The top eight — McDavid, Makar, Barzal, Pettersson, Matthews, Miller, MacKinnon, Nylander — advanced to the one-on-one shootout event.

Nylander took that competition with a terrific showing that included a one-handed breakaway move from the Swede that was reminiscent of countryman Peter Forsberg's shootout move in the 1994 Olympics, while Colorado's Alexandar Georgiev won $100,000 for the best goaltending performance.

Petterson and MacKinnon were eliminated, leaving six remaining players for the final obstacle course, with McDavid winning in a time of 40.606 seconds — and the $1-million payday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2024.