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Center Stage: The elite point-per-game players

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 3:14 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Center Stage: The elite point-per-game players
There aren't that many players who produce at least a point per game, but a list of the top centers is sure to have most of the guys who can do it.
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.

Posting at least one point per game over the course of a season is not an easy task. Of players that appeared in more than two games last season, only 15 averaged point-per-game numbers -- Daniel Sedin (104 in 82 games), Martin St. Louis (99 in 82), Corey Perry (98 in 82), Henrik Sedin (94 in 82), Steven Stamkos (91 in 82), Jarome Iginla (86 in 82), Alex Ovechkin (85 in 79),Teemu Selanne (80 in 73), Henrik Zetterberg (80 in 80), Brad Richards (77 in 72), Ryan Getzlaf (76 in 67), Patrick Kane, (73 in 73), Sidney Crosby (66 in 41), Pavel Datsyuk (59 in 56) and Derek Roy (35 in 35).

That number seems to have been a bit lower in comparison to this year and previous seasons. In fact, in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, exactly 22 players averaged at least a point-per-game. Now here's the kicker: So far this season, 22 players are also averaging at least a point-per-game – weird, right?

If 22 players doesn't seem like a great amount to you, it's because it's not. It is simply not an easy feat for any player to achieve these days. You should be extremely grateful if you've been fortunate enough to own a guy that's posted that kind of stat line.

Breaking this class of performance down even further, of the 15 players that averaged a point-per-game last year, nine of them were eligible centers in fantasy leagues. When you're assessing point production, it has become quite evident that the center position continues to set the pace for posting big points.

With just about a third of the NHL season in the books, here are the current 22 players that are putting up at least a point per game, with 12 of them having center-eligibility:

Sidney Crosby (C-eligible): 12 points in 8 games - 1.50 P/G
Claude Giroux (C-eligible): 39 in 28 - 1.39 P/G
Evgeni Malkin (C-eligible): 29 in 24 - 1.21 P/G
Phil Kessel: 36 in 30 - 1.20 P/G
Daniel Sedin: 34 in 30 - 1.13 P/G
Joffrey Lupul: 34 in 30 - 1.13 P/G
Kris Versteeg: 33 in 30 - 1.10 P/G
Henrik Sedin (C-eligible): 33 in 30 - 1.10 P/G
Steven Stamkos (C-eligible): 33 in 30 - 1.10 P/G
Marian Hossa: 31 in 29 - 1.07 P/G
Nicklas Backstrom (C-eligible): 31 in 29 - 1.07 P/G
Jason Pominville: 32 in 30 - 1.07 P/G
Jonathan Toews (C-eligible): 32 in 30 - 1.07 P/G
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C-eligible): 32 in 30 - 1.07 P/G
Pavel Datsyuk (C-eligible): 30 in 29 - 1.03 P/G
Patrick Kane (C-eligible): 31 in 30 - 1.03 P/G
Patrick Sharp (C-eligible): 31 in 30 - 1.03 P/G
Jordan Eberle: 31 in 30 - 1.03 P/G
Stephen Weiss (C-eligible): 31 in 31 - 1.00 P/G
Johan Franzen: 29 in 29 - 1.00 P/G
Teemu Selanne: 29 in 29 - 1.00 P/G
Jaromir Jagr: 25 in 25 - 1.00 P/G

TRENDING UPWARD

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: Jordan Staal, Vinny Prospal

Players on IR: Mike Richards
Evgeni Malkin -- There might not be a more dominant player in all of hockey than Malkin -- the only concern is whether he can remain healthy. Malkin has five points in has three games and seems to be flying all over the place on the ice. He has been a solid contributor in every other fantasy category this season with a plus-three, 22 PIMs, 11 power-play points and 117 shots on goal -- which ranks second in the NHL (his 4.9 shots per game lead the NHL by a significant margin -- teammate James Neal is second at 4.1).

Henrik Zetterberg -- Zetterberg is slowly rounding into form for his fantasy owners. After a miserable start he has heated up lately, recording at least one point in nine of his last 11 games with four of them being multi-point efforts. Now with 20 points in 29 games overall, it seems like it's only a matter of time before Zetterberg cracks our top 10 again.

Brad Marchand -- Marchand looks poised to easily surpass his 21-goal, 41-point rookie campaign from last season. After potting two goals Tuesday against the Kings, Marchand now has 11 goals and 11 assists in 29 contests. What's been even more impressive for the young player is his well-rounded fantasy value: Marchand has chipped in an outstanding plus-17 rating and 46 penalty minutes. Start him with confidence.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Sidney Crosby -- While it's good to hear that Crosby will not return to the lineup until he is 100 percent healthy,that certainly isn't good news for his fantasy owners. After making his season debut in dramatic fashion and posting 12 points in 8 total games this season, Crosby is again on the sidelines torturing his owners. There is simply no guess on when he'll return, but the fact that he hasn't been placed on IR keeps him in our top 10 center ranks for the time being.

Claude Giroux -- In perhaps a more shocking turn of events, the NHL's leading scorer joined Crosby on the sidelines. Giroux, the No. 2 overall fantasy player in Yahoo! Leagues to this point, will be out indefinitely with a concussion. With 16 goals and 39 points in 28 games, this is obviously a massive blow to his fantasy owners. If you're looking for a replacement in the meantime, consider picking up his teammate Sean Couturier. The Flyers rookie is available in 96 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and will be centering the team's top line with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell.

San Jose's top line -- Despite playing on the same line with Thornton in the middle, both Pavelski and Marleau also carry center-eligibility in fantasy leagues, and all three of the talented forwards dropped a bit in our rankings. While the Sharks have played the fewest games in the NHL (tied with the Rangers and Islanders at 28), all three players have struggled mightily of late. In the Sharks' last eight games Pavelski has just two points, Marleau has one goal and no assists and Thornton has three assists. Expect them to rebound soon enough, but for now they have to fall in the ranks. 

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Brooks Laich -- Centering Washington's third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward on the wings doesn't sound too appealing for fantasy owners. However, this "third line" has been more like the Caps' second line of late with Laich leading the pack. Laich has 3 goals and 3 assists in his previous six contests and now has 7 goals and 19 points in 29 games overall. The veteran forward posted 53-plus points in back-to-back seasons from 2008-2010, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see him in that 50-point range again this year.
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