Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google

Center Stage: Crosby jumps to No. 1 center rank

Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 1:37 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Share with your Friends


Center Stage: Crosby jumps to No. 1 center rank
Sidney Crosby has been back for barely over a week, but his elite performances have proven he's still the top player in the NHL and this week's center rankings reflect his high-caliber play.
Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy centers in our weekly segment: "Center Stage." From updated center rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy center expert all season long.

We knew he was good, but to immediately prove he's the best player in the world so quickly after missing over 10 months of action -- how does he do it? We're not sure anyone saw this coming so soon. In just five games since his return, Sidney Crosby has 11 points and immediately jumps up to the No. 1 center ranking -- and the No. 1 overall fantasy rank as well. Our rankings are based on expectations for the rest of the season, and we believe no one will be more valuable than Crosby.

Drafted on average with the 26th pick in standard Yahoo! Leagues, Crosby's fantasy owners can finally celebrate now that the superstar can be inserted into their lineup. Congratulations if you were able to stay close to the top of your league standings without Crosby -- now you have the most lethal weapon and can sit back and watch as Sid carries you to the top. 

Let's break down his game-by-game performances so far:

Nov. 21 debut vs. Islanders
2 G, 2 A, plus-3, 1 PPP, 8 SOG in 15:54 of total ice time -- 4:23 on the power play

Nov. 23 vs. Blues
No points, even rating, 6 PIMs, 2 SOG in 18:41 of total ice time -- 2:10 on the power play

Nov. 25 vs. Senators
3 A, plus-1, 1 PPP, 2 PIMs, 2 SOG in 17:06 of total ice time -- 5:44 on the power play

Nov. 26 at Canadiens
2 A, plus-2, 3 SOG in 20:55 of total ice time -- 4:47 on the power play

Nov. 29 at Rangers
2 A, even rating, 1 PPP, 1 SOG in 20:36 of total ice time -- 4:56 on the power play

Clearly Crosby got off to an explosive start against a rather feeble Islanders team, but he hasn't exactly slowed down since his extraordinary debut. He has picked up right from where he left off last season and looks as if he was never even injured, much less seriously concussed.

It wouldn't shock us at all if he ended up averaging two points per game all season long. If you project Crosby's current point-rate over the course of an 82-game season he'd end up with an eye-popping 180 points. If Crosby remains healthy for the remainder of the season (63 total games including the five he has already played in), he could easily end up with over 100 points. To do that, Sid would have to average over 1.59 points per game -- a rate he is very familiar with. Last season, Crosby posted 66 points in 41 games -- which comes out to an average of 1.61 points per game.

TOP 40 FANTASY CENTERS

These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Derek Roy, Brandon Dubinsky
Last season he averaged 21:55 of ice time per game, and you can see the Penguins are slowly moving Crosby along with increased playing time. He might not see quite as much as he did prior to his concussion, but you can expect that number to average out at around 20 minutes per contest.

You can also tell No. 87 is thriving on the power play, making Pittsburgh arguably the most dangerous team when on the man advantage. When Kris Letang returns from his injury, you should see Letang quarterbacking the top unit with Steve Sullivan at the other point and Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal up front -- not a bad group of talent.

The bottom line with Crosby is if you were lucky enough to grab him on draft day and showed patience holding onto him until now, you will be rewarded. He is flat out the best player and the best fantasy player.

Let's have a glance at our revised rankings and find out who has moved up or down since our last update two weeks ago.

TRENDING UPWARD

Steven Stamkos -- Thanks to Crosby's debut in the ranks, Stamkos drops one spot, but make no mistake, he has been everything his owners have hoped for so far. He is the top-rated fantasy center in Yahoo! Leagues and trails only Phil Kessel for the Rocket Richard Trophy with 15 goals. Stamkos has 9 goals in his last 11 games and has also contributed heavily in every other category with a plus-7, 24 PIMs, 8 PPP and 85 shots on goal. Going forward, we expect him to be the second best fantasy player behind Sid.

Henrik Zetterberg -- It hasn't been a pretty season, but here he comes -- finally. After struggling through his first 18 games with the Wings, Zetterberg may have found his game over the previous four contests. He has posted 2 goals and 4 assists during his current four-game point-scoring streak, with two of those points coming on the power play. We're not saying he's entirely back, but at some point we had to except the former 92-point scorer to return closer to his usual form.

Mike Richards -- Over the last two weeks, no player has found the back of the net more than Richards with 7 goals. Perhaps it took the former Flyer a bit of time to get comfortable in L.A., but he's really starting to show his talent now. Richards has 9 goals and 1 assist in his last 10 contests and with 20 points in 24 games overall, Richards should be relied on for solid all-around production from here on out.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Anze Kopitar -- While Richards moves up, Kopitar drops a bit in our rankings. The dynamic forward is still averaging a point per game for the Kings, but he has been held pointless in his previous three games and is a minus-3 during that span. Kopitar hasn't had a plus rating in the past five games, and it seems like his opponents are focusing on him a bit more. He's too talented to be held off the score sheet any more than these three games, but let's also not forget that Kopitar is nearly useless in the PIMs department with just 2 on the season -- this coming after he had just 20 last season and 16 the season before.

Ryan Getzlaf -- Getzlaf might be in the middle of a six-game point-scoring streak, but the fact that he's gone a career-high 14 games without a goal has to be driving his fantasy owners crazy. He is also starting to do his best Eric Staal impression with a minus-13 rating on the season -- including a rough minus-9 over his last five games. Getzlaf did help out his owners with 16 penalty minutes against the Coyotes a week ago, but he still has to produce more points to get back into the top-10 center ranks.

John Tavares -- Speaking of ice cold, after posting a three-game point streak, Tavares hasn't recorded a point in each of his last six games. It doesn't help that the Islanders have been shut out as a team in three of those contests, but the line of Tavares, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau has really been in a rut recently. The group is still seeing first-line caliber minutes, but they simply aren't producing too many scoring chances. Tavares should snap out of this slide, but with the Islanders being so thin on offense and defense, we have to wonder if Tavares will reach that 30-goal plateau this season.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Alexander Steen -- With center and left wing eligibility, Steen has been a fantasy steal for his owners this year. Of the players that didn't make our rankings, Steen is the highest-rated player in Yahoo! Leagues at 54th among all players. He has been a contributor in all categories except power-play points (he has just 1 PPP while averaging 2:25 of PP ice time per game) with 8 goals, 9 assists, a plus-17, 14 PIMs, and 79 shots on goal in 24 games for the Blues. Steen is owned in 62 percent of Leagues and should be a solid fantasy asset while skating on one of St. Louis' top units with David Backes and T.J. Oshie.
Fantasy All-Access: Waiver wire advice
Spin: Devils' Severson provides early value
Isles, Kuemper among hot fantasy questions
Watch: Cubeta, Jensen tackle burning Q's
Top 100 forward rankings: Line combos crucial
Top 60 defensemen ranks: Hedman joins elite
Top 30 goalie rankings: Backups prove worth