Googlie Posted August 15, 2022 Share Posted August 15, 2022 How can Horvat not be on this list? Winning important face-offs, leading rushes up the ice, and setting up teammates are the hallmarks of an elite center. NHL Network producers and analysts chose the top 20 centers in the League right now, and they were revealed on Sunday in the first of a nine-part series. Here is the list: 20. Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues Thomas had NHL career highs in goals (20), assists (57), points (77), plus-minus rating (plus-17), power-play points (14), game-winning goals (six), shots on goal (115) and shooting percentage (17.4) in 72 games last season. The 23-year-old also averaged 18:46 of ice time per game, second among Blues forwards behind Ryan O'Reilly (19:05). 19. Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks After missing the final 30 games of the 2020-21 season because of a wrist injury, Pettersson stayed healthy last season and set NHL career highs in goals (32), points (68), power-play points (27) and shots on goal (192) in 80 games. The 23-year-old, who won the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 2018-19, has scored at least 27 goals and 66 points in three of his four NHL seasons. 18. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins Knee surgery caused Malkin to miss the first three months of last season, but the 36-year-old still finished with 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 41 games, the 14th time in 16 seasons he has averaged at least a point per game. Malkin, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017), is fourth among active players in goals (444) and points (1,146), and tied for fourth in assists (702). "'Gino' is one of the all-time greats in this game," NHL Network Analyst Mike Rupp said. "…I think he's going to be super motivated this season in Pittsburgh and you might see him even higher on this list next year." 17. Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils Hughes broke out in a big way in his third NHL season, setting a career high in goals (26), assists (30) and points (56) despite being limited to 49 games because of a dislocated left shoulder. The 21-year-old, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, also led the Devils in power-play goals (six) and was first among forwards in time on ice per game (19:34). "This kid has shown nothing but progress each season, that's good," Rupp said. "There's been no plateau. He's been pushing that envelope. I think he's going to be set up for this next season here in New Jersey to kind of crank it up to another notch. This kids going to be in a star in this league." 16. Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights Eichel had 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 34 games last season after he was acquired by the Golden Knights in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 4. The 25-year-old didn't make his season debut until Feb. 16, though, because of artificial disk replacement surgery he had eight days following the trade. Among players selected in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel ranks fourth in assists (227), and fifth in goals (153) and points (380). "This guy can dominate," Rupp said. "I'm really excited to see if this season he shows everybody 'I'm good to go, I'm the old Jack Eichel and I'm ready to take that next step.' And if he does that could be big for Vegas." 15. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues O'Reilly remains one of the best two-way players in the NHL. Last season, he had 58 points (21 goals, 37 assists) in 78 games while leading Blues forwards in average ice time per game (19:05), including 2:36 on the power play and 1:52 on the penalty kill. The 31-year-old was also second in the NHL in face-off wins (900) and fourth in face-off attempts (1,585). The 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, O'Reilly has had at least 54 points in nine straight seasons and has won at least 56 percent of his face-offs in each of the past seven. 14. Nazem Kadri, free agent Kadri played through a broken thumb in the playoffs last season, getting 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 16 games to help the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001. That came after the 31-year-old put up NHL career highs in assists (59), points (87), power-play points (29) and average ice time (19:14) in 71 regular-season games. Kadri also led Colorado in face-off attempts (1,177) and face-off wins (585). "Kadri himself if you look at you know, the principal reasons [the Avalanche] had the regular season that they did, they had the playoff run that they did that ultimately results in a Stanley Cup Championship," NHL Network analyst Stu Grimson said. "Kadri's got his fingerprints all over '21-22 for the Colorado Avalanche, a really unique package… There's a lot to like in Nazem Kadri." 13. Elias Lindholm, Calgary Flames Lindholm had an NHL career-high 82 points, including tying for the Flames lead with 42 goals, in 82 games last season. The 27-year-old was also second in the NHL with a plus-61 rating and tied for sixth in game-winning goals (nine). Among Calgary forwards, Lindholm was first in average ice time per game (19:57), shorthanded ice time per game (2:07), face-off attempts (1,592), face-off wins (842), and blocked shots (52), and tied for first in takeaways (55). 12. J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks Miller led the Canucks in assists (67), points (99) and power-play points (38) last season, each an NHL career high. The 29-year-old also led Vancouver forwards in average ice time per game (21:05), hits (172), and blocks (56), was tied for first in takeaways (56), and won 54.1 percent of his face-offs. 11. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning Point was fourth on the Lightning last season in points (58), third in power-play points (22) and second in goals (28) despite being limited to 66 games. A two-time Stanley Cup champion (2020, 2021), Point led the NHL in postseason goals in 2020 and 2021 (14 each), and is third in postseason scoring since 2018 (38 goals, 40 assists in 76 games). "Really underrated in my estimation just in terms of his value to this Tampa Bay Lightning's organization," Grimson said. "He really is a top-tier center, does so many things exceptionally well. … He was just that valuable just that impactful to this group. Makes the players around him better." 10. Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers Zibanejad had NHL career highs in assists (52), points (81), power-play points (28) and plus-minus rating (plus-30) in 81 games last season. The 29-year-old also led Rangers forwards in average ice time per game (19:38), including 2:59 on the power play and 1:50 while shorthanded. A seven-time 20-goal scorer, Zibanejad had 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 20 playoff games to help New York advance to the Eastern Conference Final. "If you were to put this question to Chris Kreider, 'Why on Earth did you get 52 goals this year?', the first two words out of his mouth would be, 'Mika Zibanejad," Grimson said. "Big, rangy center, another guy that drives the tempo, and I don't know if there's a person playing this position today that drives the net as well as big No. 93 does. Really, really rangy. A great knack for the net, great distributor, and again, one of those big bodies that just really pushes the tempo." 9. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes Aho led the Hurricanes in goals (37), assists (44), points (81), power-play goals (13) and game-winning goals (nine) in 79 games last season. The 25-year-old, who also led Carolina forwards in average ice time per game (18:57), has 287 points (129 goals, 158 assists) in 285 games over the past four seasons. 8. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins Bergeron has been one of the best at the position for the past decade, winning the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward last season for an NHL record fifth time. The 37-year-old led the NHL in face-off wins (991), face-off percentage (61.9; minimum 500 attempts), and SAT percentage (minimum 25 games), with Boston taking 65.1 percent of all shot attempts when he was on the ice at 5-on-5, the highest percentage of any player since the statistic was first recorded in 2009-10. Bergeron was also third on the Bruins with 65 points (25 goals, 40 assists) in 73 games. 7. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning In his 14th NHL season, Stamkos topped 100 points for the first time, finishing with 106 (42 goals, 64 assists) in 81 games. The 32-year-old also led Tampa Bay in power-play goals (16), game-winning goals (11, tied for first in NHL) and shots on goal (241), was second in power-play points (36), and tied for third with a plus-24 rating. A six-time 40-goal scorer, Stamkos is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Lightning (2020, 2021). "He's not one-dimensional and here's the thing about Steven Stamkos and the thing that makes me a huge fan of him, the way he approaches the game is a pro through and through," Rupp said. "He does whatever it takes if he's not scoring goals. He's hitting everything that moves, blocks and shoots. He's a superstar that plays like a role player. He'll do anything that the team needs." 6. Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers Barkov led Panthers forwards in average ice time (20:18) last season, was second in shorthanded ice time (2:10), third in blocked shots (42) and tied for third in takeaways (59) despite being limited to 67 games. The 26-year-old also had 88 points (39 goals, 49 assists) and won 57.0 percent of his face-offs (tied for eighth in NHL, minimum 500 attempts) to help Florida (58-18-6) win the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best record during the regular season. "He's been a steady producer, a steady performer right from the outset and really has been a pillar for this Cats franchise," Grimson said. "'Big Sasha' drives tempo, makes the people around him better, [and is] hard to play against." 5. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins Crosby tied for the Penguins lead with 84 points (31 goals, 53 assists) in 69 games last season. It was the 10th time he's scored at least 30 goals and the 11th time he's had at least 84 points. Crosby also led Pittsburgh in power-play points (30), game-winning goals (nine), face-off wins (760) and face-off attempts (1,450) while averaging 19:58 of ice time per game. The 35-year-old, who has won the Stanley Cup three times (2009, 2016, 2017), is second among active skaters in goals (517) and points (1,409), and first in assists (892). "There's some players that I have a certain statistical category (for): how you influence a game through 82 games, and there might not be many better than Sidney Crosby still at this point," Rupp said. "The way he influences it offensively, defensively, leadership, all the things. Sidney Crosby is still an elite [center]." 4. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers Last season, Draisaitl was second in the NHL in goals (55), power-play goals (24) and power-play points (41), fourth in points (110), and first in game-winning goals (11) and average ice time among forwards (22:21). The 26-year-old also took the most face-offs in the League (1,661) and ranks second in the NHL in goals (179) and points (409) over the past four seasons. 3. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche MacKinnon tied for the NHL lead with 13 goals in the playoffs last season, helping the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001. The 26-year-old also had 88 points (32 goals, 56 assists) during the regular season, ranking second on the team despite being limited to 65 games. Since the 2017-18 season, MacKinnon is tied for fifth in the NHL in assists (275) and is third in points (442). "I don't think there's another forward in the game that controls play in the offensive zone in quite that way," Grimson said. "He's really impossible to contain. He's shifting direction laterally so quickly." 2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs Last season, Matthews won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, the Ted Lindsay Award, given annually to the most outstanding player in the NHL as voted by members of the NHL Players' Association, and the Maurice "Rocket" Richart Trophy after becoming the first player since 2011-12 to score 60 goals. It was the most goals in a season by a Maple Leafs player and the most by a United States-born player in in League history. The 24-year-old was also tied for sixth in the NHL with 106 points, first in shots on goal (348), tied for third in power-play goals (16), and fifth in game-winning goals (10). Matthews has scored at least 34 goals in each of his six NHL seasons and is second in the League with 259 over that span. 1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers McDavid led the NHL in scoring for the second straight season with 123 points (44 goals, 79 assists) in 80 games last season. The 25-year-old was also first in power-play points (44), tied for sixth in game-winning goals (nine) and was plus-28 while averaging 22:04 of ice time per game, second among forwards behind Draisaitl. A two-time Hart Trophy winner, McDavid has 697 points since entering the NHL in 2015-16, 74 more than Patrick Kane, who is second and has played 44 more games. https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-current-players-ranked-top-20-centers/c-335232368 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.