With the 2014-15 NHL season inching closer by the day, NHL.com has you covered with positional fantasy rankings. Based on Yahoo eligibility, projected lineups, past performance, injury history and each insider's opinion, Matt Cubeta (centers), Matt Sitkoff (left wings), Pete Jensen (right wings), Brian Metzer (defensemen) and Justin Goldman (goalies) bring you up to speed by identifying all the players worth targeting at each position in your upcoming drafts.
Depth, depth and more depth. That's the story year after year when breaking down the center position for fantasy hockey. And as always, this year remains the same.
From the first round of your draft to the final round, there's always a good time to draft a center. But that first round is sure to see plenty fly off the board. Among my top-10 overall fantasy players, eight qualify as centers in Yahoo leagues. From Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at the No. 1 spot to Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews at 10th, there seem to be more elite players at the center position than ever, and this doesn't even include superstars Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars) or Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings).
But the quality doesn't stop there. Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets star Ryan Johansen could end up moving into the top tier at the center position. Another No. 1 draft pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, could finally start to pay dividends for the Edmonton Oilers and fantasy owners. Jason Spezza (Stars) and Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes) should both bounce back to have big seasons.
As you move through your draft, some potential breakout candidates can also be found. Players like Brayden Schenn (Philadelphia Flyers), Derick Brassard (New York Rangers) and Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) could all end up exceeding expectations in 2014-15. Then there are the sleepers; guys like Sam Gagner (Arizona Coyotes), Nick Bjugstad (Florida Panthers) and Elias Lindholm (Hurricanes) are all worth selections with one of your final picks come draft day.
Regardless of what you need, whether it's goals, assists, penalty minutes, plus/minus help, power-play production or shots on goal, the center position has you covered, and you'll be able to find what you need at almost any point during your draft.
NOTE: NHL.com's fantasy staff has determined that the primary position of the players listed below is center. Each of these players is C-eligible in Yahoo leagues. These are Matt Cubeta's center rankings and may not reflect the order of NHL.com's aggregate top 275 overall fantasy rankings.
Just missed: Ryan Strome (Islanders), Sam Gagner* (Coyotes), Mike Richards* (Kings), Mika Zibanejad* (Senators), Nick Bjugstad (Panthers), Leon Draisaitl (Oilers), Elias Lindholm (Hurricanes), Mikhail Grabovski* (Islanders), Sean Monahan (Flames), Tyler Ennis* (Sabres)
* Player has dual-position eligibility in Yahoo leagues