Will Andrei keep his crown?
Last year, Andrei Kostitsyn earned top honors in the inaugural tournament, thanks to his dandy work from center ice in against the Atlanta Thrashers. He’ll look to defend his crown with a pair of entries but he faces some stiff competition.
Alex Kovalev heads into the tourney as the top seed, thanks to his “spin and score” move that resulted in his first goal of the season back on Oct. 11 against the Maple Leafs. The veteran winger won’t need to rely on that tally alone, boasting seven plays total among all the contenders.
While slick moves and sniper-skills are just another day at the office for Kostitsyn and Kovalev, one particular first-round entrant proved that though he’s primarily a defensive forward, there were a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Maxim Lapierre turns up three times in the opening matchups, thanks in part to his new-found shootout success.
That’s only the beginning. While goals highlight most of the entries, there’s no shortage of incredible passes and robbery in between the pipes making their mark in the field of 32.
So, will the defending champ hold his ground or will Kovalev snipe his way to the top? Then again, perhaps it’s the year of the darkhorse. One can speculate all they want; the only way to get an answer is to vote.