With the 2014-15 NHL season inching closer by the day, NHL.com has you covered with positional fantasy rankings.
Based on Yahoo position eligibility, projected lineups, past performance, injury history and each insider's opinions, 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 (Arizona Coyotes) 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: All players listed below are eligible at center in Yahoo leagues. Rankings do not necessarily reflect the order of NHL.com's top 275 overall rankings, which are compiled based on the individual rankings of the three NHL.com insiders whose opinions were taken into account. These are solely Matt Cubeta's center rankings.
TOP 50 FANTASY HOCKEY CENTERS
1Sidney Crosby, CPittsburgh Penguins
2Steven Stamkos, CTampa Bay Lightning
3Evgeni Malkin, C/RWPittsburgh Penguins
4Ryan Getzlaf, CAnaheim Ducks
5John Tavares, CNew York Islanders
6Claude Giroux, C/RWPhiladelphia Flyers
7Jonathan Toews, CChicago Blackhawks
8Anze Kopitar, CLos Angeles Kings
9Tyler Seguin, C/RWDallas Stars
10Logan Couture, C/LWSan Jose Sharks
11Nicklas Backstrom, CWashington Capitals
12Pavel Datsyuk, C/LWDetroit Red Wings
13Joe Pavelski, C/LWSan Jose Sharks
14Matt Duchene, C/LWColorado Avalanche
15Jason Spezza, CDallas Stars
16Eric Staal, CCarolina Hurricanes
17David Backes, C/RWSt. Louis Blues
18Nathan MacKinnon, C/RWColorado Avalanche
19Patrice Bergeron, CBoston Bruins
20Joe Thornton, CSan Jose Sharks
21Henrik Sedin, CVancouver Canucks
22Jeff Carter, C/RW Los Angeles Kings
23Ryan Johansen, C/RWColumbus Blue Jackets
24David Krejci, CBoston Bruins
25Ryan Kesler, C/RWAnaheim Ducks
26Brandon Dubinsky, C/LWColumbus Blue Jackets
27Paul Stastny, CSt. Louis Blues
28Kyle Turris, COttawa Senators
29Bryan Little, C/RWWinnipeg Jets
30Derek Stepan, CNew York Rangers
31Mikko Koivu, CMinnesota Wild
32Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, CEdmonton Oilers
33Nazem Kadri, CToronto Maple Leafs
34Valtteri Filppula, C/LWTampa Bay Lightning
35Cody Hodgson, C/RWBuffalo Sabres
36Evgeny Kuznetsov, CWashington Capitals
37Brayden Schenn, C/LWPhiladelphia Flyers
38Derick Brassard, CNew York Rangers
39Mark Scheifele, C Winnipeg Jets
40Tomas Plekanec, CMontreal Canadiens
41Tyler Johnson, C Tampa Bay Lightning
42Mikael Granlund, CMinnesota Wild
43Mike Ribeiro, CNashville Predators
44Nick Bonino, CVancouver Canucks
45Tyler Bozak, CToronto Maple Leafs
46Martin Hanzal, C Arizona Coyotes
47Brad Richards, C/LWChicago Blackhawks
48Aleksander Barkov, CFlorida Panthers
49Andrew Shaw, CChicago Blackhawks
50Sam Reinhart, CBuffalo Sabres
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)
Author: Matt Cubeta | NHL.com Fantasy Insider