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.
With nearly three weeks of the NHL season in the books, it's time to take a look at the top fantasy players at the center position according to standard fantasy leagues. Three weeks is still not a gigantic portion of the season, so you'll notice that we continue to show patience with our updated center rankings. However, we can begin to put more faith in some players' hot or cold starts -- guys like Jordan Staal, Vinny Prospal and Jamie Benn, for example.
You'll also notice that our updated center rankings will differ from Yahoo! League ratings because we're projecting how we expect players to perform for the remainder of the season -- Yahoo's rankings are based on what they've done up to this point. For example, Steven Stamkos remains our top-ranked center going forward, but in Yahoo! Leauges, Stamkos is currently rated 20th among centers.
With that said, let's take a look at the top-five performers at the center position up to this point. You'll see one player is finally living up to expectations, another is performing like he did last year, another is rebounding like we hoped he would, and the other two are reaching the expectations that many of us have had for the last couple of years.
We're talking about Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Nicklas Backstrom and two centers that we'll be hearing from for many, many years to come: Claude Giroux and John Tavares.