The Top 10 Centers in the NHL

Posted: February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Sidney-Crosby1

As we approach the midway point of this lockout-shortened NHL season, we get closer-and-closer to the greatest sports time of the year. That’s right, spring is undoubtedly the best time to be a sports fan. Not only do you have March Madness approaching, but also the NFL Draft and the NBA and NHL playoffs. So, heat up the popcorn, crack open a beer, and lay back and relax as SkoodSports outlines the top-10 centers in the National Hockey League:

Honorable Mentions:

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Saku Koivu, Anaheim Ducks
David Krejci, Boston Bruins
Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins
Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
Mike Ribeiro, Washington Capitals

10. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

thorntonThe 2006 Hart Trophy winner has seen his point-production drop below PPG levels in recent years. He is also mired by questions of playoff-preparedness. But, Thornton is enjoying another mighty fine season in San Jose, with 4 G and 14 A in 17 G. The Sharks are inconsistent this season. But, that should not be blamed on Joe, who has not recorded a season without 70+ points since 2001-02.

9. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

sedin

It is not unreasonable to wonder what type of production Henrik would provide without his linemate, twin brother Daniel at his side. The two have been inseparable throughout their hockey careers dating back to pee-wee (or whatever the equivalent is in Sweden). One thing is for sure, the 32-year old, 2010 Hart Trophy winner is as clutch as he is talented. He has averaged over a point-per-game since 2008 (368 points in 328 regular season games, 51 points in 52 playoff games), and has provided steady leadership for a consistently contending Canucks team.

8. Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

estaal

It is amazing how long a guy like Staal, 28, has been around. The second overall pick in 2003 debuted with the Hurricanes in 2003-04. After the first lockout, he had already emerged as a superstar, recording 45 goals and 100 points in leading Carolina to the 2006 Stanley Cup. The regular season numbers have gone down a little. But, Staal is still a 70+ point player and a captain on the most supported southern team in hockey. He is enjoying a particularly fine 2013, with 19 points in 17 games.

7. John Tavares, New York Islanders

tavares

It was difficult keeping Tavares out of the top-five in this list. The former #1 overall pick has become the face of the long-forgotten Islanders franchise. At just 21-years old, John emerged as a point-per-game player with 31 goals and 50 assists in 82 games last season. The Mississauga, Ontario native has only improved on those numbers so far in 2013, with 13 goals and 25 points in just 19 games. Once New York gets him some elite linemates, Tavares could supplant the top-six as the best centreman in the sport.

6. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

cgiroux

Giroux was called the “best player in the world” by Head Coach Peter Laviolette last season. His breakout campaign saw the Gatineau, Quebec native punishing opposing defenses for 28 goals and 65 assists. His career postseason numbers are even more impressive, with 78 playoff points in just 41 games. After a slow start in 2013, Giroux has turned it up a notch with 18 points in 20 games. His -4 rating will have to improve, and likely will. Still, until Giroux wins a Hart Trophy or Stanley Cup, he cannot be included in the top-five.

5. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

stammer

Stamkos probably deserves to have a Hart Trophy by now. The undisputed best goal-scoring Centreman in hockey at the moment, the Markham, Ontario native has picked up right where he left off last season, when he became the first player since Alexander Ovechkin in 2008 to score 60 goals (60 G, 37 A, 97 P). It was the third consecutive season in which Stamkos recorded over 90 points (in just four career NHL campaigns). Stamkos currently leads all centers in points, and is tied with Tavares in goals (13-16-29 in 18 games).

4. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

jtoews

Widely regarded as the finest young captain in the game, Jonathan Toews is a three-time All Star, a Conn Smythe winner, a Stanley Cup champion, and an Olympic Gold medalist. Oh, and he is only 24-years old. Toews saw his numbers decline in 2011-12 due to injuries. But, he is right back to his previous form in 2013. His 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in 18 G are impressive. But, it is the leadership that has the Blackhawks on the longest consecutive points streak to start a season in history that makes him a top-five center in the NHL.

3. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings

datsyuk

No one does it better with the puck on his stick than Pavel Datsyuk. The 34-year old Russian playmaker has revolutionized the deke. A two-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Selke Award winner (best defensive-forward), Datsyuk brings the most complete game of any forward in the sport. He has maintained a point-per-game level every year of his career whilst providing highlight-reel goals, passes, and dekes to nourish even the most docile of NHL fans’ appetites.

2. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

malkin

Unfortunately for Penguins fans, Malkin is currently experiencing concussion-like symptons after going hard into the boards last week. Still, the defending Hart Trophy winner deserves top three-consideration. His 109 points (50 G, 59 A) in 75 games last season led the league. Injuries have taken over 35 games from the star the past three seasons, and he could see his stock fall dramatically if he cannot stay on the ice for long periods of time over the next season or two.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

crs

As much as I hate to admit it, Sidney Crosby is the best player in hockey. His 28 points (9 G, 19 A) is second in the league behind Stamkos. Sidney’s problem has been staying healthy, as he has dealt with multiple concussion problems over the past few seasons. Still, when he is on the ice, he is the best in the world. In his last 82 games (dating back to 2010), Crosby has 136 points. That is an astounding number and one that should only improve if he can stay healthy for the long haul.

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