datsyuk

 

For the past three weeks, we covered goalies, defensemen and wingers while examining team-by-team who is primed for fantasy success and who is due for a fall in the coming weeks.

 

We conclude the series with centers this week and I hope you have gained some valuable information with this mini-series. Centers have always been the deepest position in fantasy hockey and the gap that exists between a top-tiered center compared to a waiver wire center is not that apparent especially if you play in a custom league where your league settings may include faceoff wins or shooting percentage.

 


When considering centers I used the same settings as comparing wingers. I took into account three major factors 1) total ice-time given 2) power-play ice-time given and 3) shots on goal per game. Generally speaking the higher the numbers the more opportunity there is for success. Face it if you don’t play you don’t score, and if you shoot a ton, there is a higher chance of picking up points. One thing that is different between centers and wingers is that centers tend to be more of the play-making type compared to wingers. Meaning they tend to pass first before considering to shoot.

 

This one factor will differentiate between what is a quality must own fantasy stud from a generic average fantasy pool center. If you own a “shooting” center you gain a valuable advantage over a non-shooting center. Your center is able to contribute in both the goals and shots on goal department which gives you a couple of advantages over your opponents who don’t possess a shooting center. In roto and most importantly head-to-head fantasy hockey leagues, a guy like Ryan Getzlaf with a line of eight goals, 18 assists and 69 SOG is much more productive than Joe Thornton with a line of five goals, 17 assists and 39 SOG. You could even make a case for Olli Jokinen who has a line of seven goals, 10 assists and 62 SOG to be more owner-friendly than JT. Even Jason Arnott’s totals of 10 goals and seven assists, along with 50 SOG might deserve some consideration. Hmmmmm…  

Before the good stuff let’s take a look at a few:

Maasquito Buzzings…

-    Sammy Pahlsson is leading the Western Conference in faceoff wins with 226.
-    Henrik Sedin picked up seven points this past week all of which are assists.
-    Jiri Hudler and Pavol Demitra was ranked second and fourth overall in Yahoo for last week, Hudler had six points and a plus five rating while Demitra had also had six points with a plus three rating. Both are less than 60% owned, Hudler (34%) Demitra (58%), and could be solid pickups for the rest of the season.
-    Dustin Brown regains the lead in the Western Conference with 69 hits.
-    Kyle Wellwood is shooting at an astounding 32.0%, but he only has registered 25 shots on goal, which explains his elevated stats. Once he takes more shots that %age will go down. Pavol Demitra is climbing up the boards with a 26.9% shooting percentage playing with the Sedins. Tomas Holmstrom rose up to 25.9% and could be worth picking up because as the Wings a clicking on all cylinders early this season.
-    Teemu Selanne maybe the king of power-play goals, but he’ll need to watch out for Sheldon Souray and Demitra as they both tallied two power-play goals last week. Selanne added another to make it nine this season.
-    Dustin Brown is firing a ton of bombs on opposing goalies as he now takes the Western Conference lead with 87 shots on goal. Phaneuf is second with 82 and Devin Setoguchi rounds out the top three with 81.  
-    Sean Avery regained his PIMs crown as he’s sitting pretty as the top-dog with 77. Shane O’Brien is sitting in second with 70 and could be good pickup as a fourth defensemen just for the PIMs.  
-    Minnesota gave up a few power-play goals this week but continues to be the NHL’s leader on the PK as they still are operating at 91.4%
-    Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better Detroit improved their power-play percentage to 32.9%, which means almost one in three opportunities they are scoring. WOW! St. Louis still remains up there with a 25.6% rating, it’ll be interesting to see how Andy McDonald’s injury will affect the power-play though and third place belongs to Sharks who proudly own a 21.7% rating, with quick puck moving defensemen like Dan Boyle, Rob Blake and Marc-Eduard Vlasic, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that %age creep up to 30% by the end of the season.
-    Vancouver continues to produce in five-on-five situations with a ratio of 1.50. Colorado is the worst in the Western Conference with a rating of 0.72.
-    Minnesota leads the league with an average of 10.8 minutes in penalties per contest. So don’t look for any big PIM producers in a very disciplined Minny line-up. Anaheim is averaging the league high of 20.7 and Dallas is second last while averaging 19.7. Both teams are under 80% on the PK, so if they are giving up that many penalties, you would think that could be a main reason why both teams are struggling for wins this season.

 

Around the West 

 

Now we’ll get on to the good stuff, starting in the windy city.

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Jonathan Toews

20:26

4:16

54

Dave Bolland

16:03

1:41

24

Colin Fraser

9:50

0:03

12

 

The Hawk’s captain is probably the only must own out of the trio. He’s averaging over 20 minutes of ice-time per game four of which are on the power-play. He’s also averaging 2.84 shots per contest, which is very rare amongst centermen in the NHL. We discussed earlier about the advantages of having a shooting center compared to a non-shooting center. Toews definitely falls under the shooting center column. Toews picked up 54 points in 64 games last season, and should finish around the 70-75 point mark at the end of the season. Bolland isn’t a bad own in deeper leagues, but there are probably better options than him available on the waiver wire. Fraser has no fantasy value so pass on him for now. There have been numerous rumors between the Blackhawks and the Capitals involving a swap of Michael Nylander for Nikolai Khabibulin. The deal makes sense for the Blackhawks because they are in need of a center to complement Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp, but it might not make sense for the Caps as they already have Jose Theodore making over $6 million between the pipes, and sinking a further $6 million into a goalie tandem isn’t exactly the smartest idea one would make.          

 

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

R.J. Umberger

18:26

3:08

60

Derick Brassard

14:43

3:34

39

Manny Malholtra

15:15

0:25

22

Mike Peca

14:49

0:15

13

 

The biggest surprise of the season has to be the play of Brassard, he’s recorded 20 points in 20 games for the Blue Jackets so far this season. The biggest anomaly is that he’s only averaging 14:43 in ice-time, but coach Ken Hitchcock has recognized his stellar play and has rewarded him with a roster spot on the top-line with Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius. Since being assigned to the top-line, Brassard has worked his way up towards the 17 and a half minute mark in the past three contests. If he can maintain that type of productive ice-time, I would not be surprised if he finished the season with 75-80 points and take home the Calder trophy at the end of the season. He’s only 44% owned in Yahoo leagues, so he should be widely available in many leagues out there. Don’t hesitate to pick him up right now! Umberger was signed in the off-season to help complement Nash on the top-line, but lost that gig to Brassard. He’s still centering the second line of Jakub Voracek and Jason Chimera, which will still give him plenty of options to dish the puck off and pick up a few points throughout the season. The positive is that he’s averaging 3.17 shots on goal per game, so if he can maintain a 11.2 shooting percentage over the course of the season, he should tally 29 goals at season’s end. He should be owned in leagues that counts SOG. Malholtra and Peca probably don’t garner enough fantasy value to be owned in fantasy pools.    

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Pavel Datsyuk

19:56

3:17

53

Valtteri Filppula

16:10

0:20

30

Thomas Kopecky

9:38

0:23

29

Kris Draper

12:54

0:05

22

 

Once again no big surprises here, Henrik Zetterberg could be classified as a center, but I mentioned him last week, so I won’t mention him again this week. Datsyuk leads the way and is one of the bright stars of the Red Wings offense while scoring 20 points in 19 games. He picked up 97 points in 82 games last season, but this season he’s a little below that pace. He should once again flirt with the century mark by season’s end. An interesting fact that you may not know is that he’s currently winning 56.7% of his faceoffs, which means a lot of power-play points could be coming very soon for Datsyuk if the Red Wings can maintain puck possession from the draw in the offensive zone on the power-play. He’s winning 55.5% of his power-play faceoffs. Eight out of his 20 points is from the power-play and if he maintains that ratio it could be near the 40 power-play point mark at the end of the season. Filppula is an interesting case, he’s been given plenty of playing time, it just hasn’t been quality playing time. He’s currently toiling on the third line with Kris Draper, and Jiri Hudler which could stymie his offensive production. He’s also not getting power-play time as he averages only 20 seconds of power-play time per contest. Filppula does have some talent, but will need more quality time before he starts shows up on the scoresheets regularly. Kopecky and Draper won’t produce enough to warrant a pick up so take a pass on them.

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Jason Arnott

18:08

4:57

50

David Legwand

17:21

3:12

36

Scott Nichol

12:26

0:05

21

Radek Bonk

14:39

2:20

21

       

 

The Predators follow a similar trend as other Western Conference teams as they have one dominant center followed by two or three serviceable centers. The Preds’ star is Arnott, he’s scoring at a point-per-game pace while averaging one of the lowest totals for ice-time for number one centers in the Western Conference. One positive for Arnott is that he’s averaging 2.97 shots on goal per contest, which means that he should be lighting the lamp quite a bit this season. He is currently on a 48 goal pace, which will be too high of a pace for him to maintain over a course of a full season as his career-high in goals has only been 32 in the 2005-06 season with the Stars. If he keeps firing three shots on goal per game, you might see him establish a new career-high of 35-40 goals this season, which will be great for many fantasy owners. He is a must own in all formats of fantasy hockey. David Legwand is currently a borderline own because he gets plenty of power-play time, but isn’t surrounded by talented wingers for him to be productive in fantasy leagues. If he can end up getting better wingers beside him that might boost his fantasy value. Nichol and Bonk are serviceable real-life centers, but not productive enough for fantasy leagues.     

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Andy McDonald

19:55

4:30

46

Patrik Berglund

14:07

2:13

28

David Backes

16:05

1:42

27

T.J. Oshie

16:06

1:00

13

Jay McClement

16:15

0:07

24

 

The MacDonald injury probably threw a wrench in many owners’ season. He was on pace to pick up 92 points before the injury and was red-hot on the Blues’ power-play with 11 power-play points. So I guess the big question is who’s going to step up in his absence? They have already slid Keith Tkachuk to the center the top-line of Brad Boyes and Steve Regier. Paul Kariya should rejoin that line once he recovers from his hip-flexor injury. Tkachuk will probably center the top-line until McDonald returns. Berglund will be the most offensive and healthiest out of the bunch to gain an increase in ice-time due to McDonald’s absence. He is unfortunately hampered by a groin injury, so he won’t get his shot until later on this week. Once Oshie recovers from his ankle injury would probably give some competition to Berglund for the second line center gig. David Perron will temporarily replace McDonald’s spot on the power-play. Backes and McClement are good third line options, but won’t be able to compete with Berglund or Oshie on the more offensive second line role.      

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Daymond Langkow

18:36

4:53

54

Dustin Boyd

14:43

1:50

30

Craig Conroy

14:31

0:31

20

Matthew Lombardi

15:22

2:00

13

 

Iggy’s favourite centerman has to be Langkow, both players seem to have found chemistry with each other in the offensive end for the Flames as they have tallied 39 points between them. Langkow is getting plenty of ice-time on even-strength and on the power-play while averaging 2.57 shots on goal per game. Langkow must be owned and active in all formats of fantasy hockey. Matthew Lombardi is just recently returned from an injury, which is why you see his point totals so low. With a secondary line of Rene Bourque, Mike Cammalleri and Lombardi, the Flames finally have a formidable second line. If he can find some chemistry with Cammy and Bourque, he could be in line for 45-50 points this season. Conroy and Boyd won’t shoot enough to garner enough fantasy value to be owned.   

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Paul Stastny

21:20

4:43

39

Joe Sakic

19:40

5:18

45

Tyler Arnasson

11:47

0:38

25

T.J. Hensick

15:55

3:47

11

    

In Avalanche territory, the duo of Stastny and Sakic really keep the team together. Both players are averaging near the 20 minute mark of TOI, while spending nearly five minutes on the power-play each game. Sakic has been hampered by a sore back, which has sidelined him for the past six contests, but still remains to be a solid own in most fantasy leagues. His 3.46 shots on goal average is a testament that he has plenty of gas left in the tank to still become an impact player in fantasy leagues. Both he and Statsny are near the point-per-game pace and both should finish the season near that mark. Hensick might the surprise of the bunch as he has four points in seven contests for the Avs since being recalled from the minors. He’s also averaging well over three minutes of power-play time per contest for the Avs, if Wolski, and Svatos can get their act into gear, Hensick might be in for a surprise 50 point season. Arnasson doesn’t gather enough value to be owned.       

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Shawn Horcoff

21:00

4:01

56

Sam Gagner

16:44

2:43

37

Andrew Cogliano

14:16

1:50

31

Kyle Brodziak

11:59

0:06

18

 

The Oilers have been very inconsistent down the middle this season. You would think with their great late season run last year, and the additions of Erik Cole and Lubomir Visnovsky in the off-season that would have boost the Oiler’s offensive production this year. It just has not been the case. Horcoff registered 50 points in 53 games before injuring his shoulder last season, has only 11 points in 20 games this season. The chemistry that he developed with Ales Hemsky during the season seems to have disappeared during the off-season. Gagner’s brilliant rookie season, where he tallied 49 points, is spoiled by a sophomore slump of only five points in 19 games. Cogliano had a very respectable 45 points last season, is following that up with nine points in 20 games. At this moment, none of the Oilers are worth owning. The best bet for a large improvement probably is probably handing on the shoulders of Horcoff.  He does average 21 minutes per game and over four minutes of which come on the power-play. With that type of ice-time he’s bound to produce sooner or later. He should be considered a strong buy-low candidate right now. Brodziak doesn’t get enough playing time to be on fantasy rosters.  

 

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Mikko Koivu

21:44

3:56

68

Eric Belanger

18:15

2:34

39

P.M. Bouchard

16:42

3:08

20

James Sheppard

15:37

0:35

18

   

You can pretty much skip this section, because it is Minny’s offense after all… just kidding or am I? Koivu has been brilliant this season while tallying 18 points in 18 games this season. His career-high is 54 points, in which he tallied two seasons ago. The thing with Koivu is that he isn’t built to be a point-per-game player, which is also true of his brother Saku in Montreal. Both are realistically around 65-75 point players, and not much more. So to expect him to keep up a point-per-game pace for the duration of a full season, will be asking for a lot. With that said, someone has to score in Minny so it might as well be Koivu… Bouchard is entering his sixth NHL season, so he is certainly has gained quite a bit of experience in the big leagues. The problem is he’s playing for the defensive minded Wild, so his offensive development might have been hampered by the Wild’s defensive philosophy. Did you know that Bouchard tallied 140 points in 69 games for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the Q? So where is that potential as he is currently on pace to tally less than 30 points at the end of the season. Maybe he’s another offensive star stymied by the Wild’s defensive system just like Marian Gaborik. Belanger and Sheppard are solid defensive options up the middle, but not for fantasy pools leave em be.       

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Henrik Sedin

20:00

4:51

35

Ryan Kesler

19:01

2:33

38

Ryan Johnson

12:04

0:05

10

Kyle Wellwood

13:46

3:42

25

 

Vancouver really lacks scoring depth up the middle, they have very serviceable centermen but in terms of sending shivers down fantasy owner’s spine they don’t have very many. One centermen that might send some tingles is Sedin, he’s getting plenty of ice-time playing with twin brother Daniel and Pavol Demitra. He should be able to match his point-per-game pace for the duration of the season. Kesler really has stepped up to the plate this season after watching Brendan Morrison leave for the Ducks in the off-season. He’s picked up 13 points in 21 contests this season, which would translate to a new career-high of 50 points for him over a duration of a full 82 game season. There’s not enough offensive depth in Vancouver for him to get there though. Wellwood has 10 points in 16 games, but hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant a fantasy roster spot. Johnson has no fantasy value whatsoever. The big wrench that can turn things completely around for the Canucks is Mats Sundin. The Canucks have offered Sundin a two year deal worth $10 million per season to play with fellow countrymen the Sedin twins along with Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo. If he decides on the Canucks it could be a very big boost to the Canucks offense.  

 

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Ryan Getzlaf

19:03

4:06

69

Sammy Pahlsson

17:53

0:06

31

Todd Marchant

14:53

1:01

27

Brendan Morrison

15:41

2:09

25

 

The Ducks main go-to guy is pretty much Ryan Getzlaf. He’s leading the Ducks offense with 26 points in 21 contests and is on a 101 point pace, while picking up plenty of ice-time on the power-play. He is a must own/start in fantasy leagues. The other three centers each has their advantages and disadvantages. Pahlsson is great for overall ice-time, as he also leads the league in short-handed ice-time with 5:20 each game. He also has won 226 faceoffs this season, so if your league counts faceoff wins as a stat, you might want to consider Pahlsson. His minus seven rating might turn off a lot of people though. Marchant is a good checking center, but that doesn’t do much in terms of fantasy value. Morrison might be worth a flier now that the Ducks have recalled Bobby Ryan. The Ducks have the luxury of creating various line combinations using a mix of Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Chris Kunitz and Ryan. Morrison will pretty much center the second line with two of the above players, so he could be due for a breakout fairly soon and certainly worth a gamble if you are looking for someone to roll the dice on.  

 
NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

 Mike Ribeiro

20:48

4:46

32

Brad Richards

20:51

4:29

51

Mike Modano

18:10

4:13

48

Steve Ott

15:17

0:24

12

 

The Stars have the luxury of owning three experienced and skilled centermen. Ribeiro leads the way with 18 points in 19 games. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to his totals now that Brendan Morrow is out for the season with an ACL injury. Ribeiro will most likely take a hit in production. He’ll probably finish just under the point-per-game mark at the end of the season. Richards centers the second line for the Stars and is picking up as much playing time in key situations as Ribeiro does. He’s also fired 51 shots on goal which will definitely help his offensive production. He should be owned in standard Yahoo leagues. Modano started the season red-hot with 10 points in his first nine games but has cooled off significantly as he only has three points in the past 10 games. Modano is well past his prime and would be very surprised if he cracked the 55 point plateau at the end of this season. He’s waiver wire material during this slump. Ott is a very serviceable player if you are in need of PIMs, but his lack of SOG and points probably won’t justify a permanent roster spot.

 

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Anze Kopitar

21:00

4:59

47

Jarett Stoll

16:05

2:47

37

Michal Handzus

18:40

3:45

29

Brian Boyle

9:23

0:24

18

 

Kopitar leads the Kings as the number one center. He’s getting plenty of ice-time by averaging 21 minutes in each contest and averages 2.47 shots on goal per game, which is almost identical to last season. The main difference between this season and last season is that he fired at a 15.9% accuracy rate last year compared to just 6.4% this season. Kopitar is a genuine sniper and once he gets a bit more luck shooting the puck, the goals will come. He is definitely a buy-low candidate in all fantasy leagues right now. Stoll was a traded from the Oilers for Lubomir Visnovsky during the off-season. He has shown some offensive flare as he did pick up 68 points in the 2005-06 season, but was in Craig MacTavish’s doghouse all season last year. He’ll need more ice-time than the 16 minutes a game to hit 68 points though. Handzus is an interesting case, he’s currently centering the third line of Kyle Calder and Wayne Simmonds on even strength, but does garner almost four minutes of power-play time on the King’s second unit. Handzus’ career-high is 58 points so he does have the potential to score, but will probably need to line up with Alex Frolov and Oscar Moller in order to be close to the 50 point plateau. Boyle won’t pick up enough point to be own in fantasy leagues, so leave him be.

        

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Olli Jokinen

18:50

4:31

62

Kyle Turris

12:25

2:30

27

Martin Hanzal

17:32

1:24

27

Steven Reinprecht

14:56

3:19

23

 

The Coyotes’ centers are led by off-season pickup Jokinen. He’s currently second in team scoring behind only captain Shane Doan with 17 points in 19 games. The fact that he’s averaging 3.26 shots on goal per game shows that he’s more than willing to shoot first than to pass. If he continues on his current pace he should end up with 268 SOG while tallying a fourth consecutive 30-goal season. Eight of his 17 points have been from the power-play which means he could tally over 35 points from the power-play this season. Jokinen is a fantasy stud and must be owned and active in all formats of fantasy hockey. Martin Hanzal is receiving plenty of ice-time on even strength but not enough on the power-play to make him a must own in fantasy leagues. Kyle Turris is the opposite, he’s getting plenty of power-play time, but not enough even strength time to make him a must own. Both players should definitely be owned in keeper leagues though. Reinprecht is an interesting case, as he was reunited with Doan and Mueller on the top-line for the Coyotes last contest against the Flyers. This tactic by Wayne Gretzky might have been used to try to distribute the offense evenly amongst the offensive lines. If Reinprecht can manage to keep that roster spot, he could be in line to repeat the 46 point performance he had last season. Definitely keep an eye on his playing status as the season rolls on.          

  

NameTOI per contestPP TOI per contestTotal SOG

Joe Thornton

19:57

4:40

39

Patrick Marleau

21:54

4:54

76

Joe Pavelski

19:04

3:30

70

Jeremy Roenick

10:22

0:30

24

 

Finally we can finish off with a bang in San Jose. There’s probably a bit less controversy with the centers than the wingers in San Jose. Jumbo Joe Thornton is the undisputed number one center in Sharks territory. Thornton remains to be one of the best passers in the league as he is currently on pace to hit his fifth consecutive 50-assist season. With the Sharks power-play operating at nearly 22%, you can be sure that JT will pick up a ton of power-play points this season. He’s currently only scoring just above the point-per-game pace, but once he gets into a scoring groove and the fact that he’s backed with one of the most offensive teams in the league, he could once again lead the NHL in scoring this season. Marleau was shifted to left wing on the top unit for the Sharks but still maintains his center eligibility, so we’ll leave him as a center for this article. First thing you should consider is that Marleau’s career-high is only 86 points, so his current pace of 94 might just be too good to be true. Secondly, his career average for SOG per contest is 2.14, this season he’s averaging 3.62. Third, with the emergence of Pavelski, Ryan Clowe, and Devin Setoguchi the Sharks might want to think about spreading out the offense so that teams can’t focus their top defensive units on the top-line. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Marleau is not worth owning and due for a drop, but you might want to use his hot start to your advantage and deal him to improve some of your weaker areas of your team. Pavelski is certainly someone that’d you’d want to keep an eye on. He’s getting plenty of ice-time by averaging just over 19 minutes a game. He’s also picking up three and a half minutes on the power-play and is on pace to fire 273 shots on goal. If he fires as his career average of 10.3% he’ll end up with 27 goals at the end of this season. He’s only 43% owned in Yahoo leagues, so that number will definitely climb as the year progresses. JR is good, but doesn’t possess enough fantasy value to be owned at this point in the season.

 

 

 


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