Thursday, September 15, 2011

Team of Centres Continued

Kind of an awkward place to stop but I had a call to take...

6: Columbus - When I sat down to compile the list I didn't even have the Jackets in mind but when I started searching stats even with the addition of Jeff Carter, but I kept turning up Blue Coats. Carter was a stunning 54.7%, a leauge best +27 among centres and has fourty goal potential. Derek McKenzie was a surprising +14, chipped in a respectable 23 points (expected to increase this year) and a solid 52% in the circle. Andrew Murray was a +2 and proven vet Samuel Pahlsson is a great fourth liner, add Derek Brassard, the shifty playmaking pivot and this group is deep and dangerous.

This is where you really start splitting hairs, the big 5

5: St.Louis - The Blues made a great late season trade last year to bring in a power winger and a puck mover, and they brought in a couple great vets this offseason to compliment their core of young talent, like Scott Nichol, the underrated fourth line centre is gritty and among the league leaders in face off percentage and Jason Arnott is a great addition.  Patrick Berglund is a budding star and a healthy Andrew McDonald is a gifted PP specialist, deft puck mover and solid 53.4% in the circle. Chris Porter and Vlad Sobtoka are both options down the middle, both with face off percentages well in to the 50s.

4: Los Angeles - It's strange to think they're this far back after adding Mike Richards, but statistically they may just play their way to the top of the heap in the centremen department by seasons end. Anze Kopitar has shockingly good faceoff percentage, is an offensive dynamo and among league leaders in +/-.  Mike Richards is regarded as one of the leagues best and his points totals should rise in a less crowded group. Jarret Stoll is a threat on the PP with his wicked shot and a danger in the circle at 57.1% - he chipped in 43 points last season, pretty good for a third liner. Three youngsters can platoon on the fourth line, all with a bit of sandpaper and defensive responsibility. Kevin Westgarth was 50% in the circle last year with over 100 PIM and Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson can both take draws if Westgarth is taking care of business.

#3: Boston Bruins - The Bruins might have more depth than the next top two teams, and that's why they've edged out LA for a spot in the top three. The points totals of these players have to be taken with a grain of salt --  they'd probably be higher if they played for Nashville even. That said David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are two of the leagues best two way centres. The addition of Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly at last year's trade deadline solidified this group and the emergence of Gregory Campbell gives Boston probably the most depth at the position in the league when you factor in Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand who are natural centres, and oh ya, they've had a 90 point centre on the injured reserve for most of two seasons.

#2: San Jose - It's all about Jumbo Joe.  Thornton morphed in to the full deal this year. He's still one of the top scorers in the league, and one of the best five playmakers but now he's one of the best in take-a-ways and 54.5% in the circle last year. His combo of power and two-way ability are going to keep him among the games elite for years to come. Rookie sensation Logan Couture was publicized for his 30+ goal rookie campaign, but don't forget his +18 and 53.4% face off record. GM Doug Wilson vaulted his team in to the league's best centre-wise signing Michael Handzus to run the third line.  He can still chip in offensively but is known for his great two way play and faceoff pedigree. Joe Pavelski takes a turn at centre but he'll likely move to wing with youngsters Torrie Mitchell, Ben Ferreiro and Andrew Desjardins all getting a shot in the circle.

#1: Vancouver - As a Canucks fan I really didn't want to have to come to this conclusion, it would simply be too suspicious, but luckily for Nux Nation there wasn't any way no to call them the best of the best.  Quite simply they have the league's highest scoring centre, Henrik Sedin, on the first unit, the second highest centre goal scorer and Selke trophy winner Ryan Kesler on the second and the leagues best faceoff man on the third. Max Lapierre showed his true value again this postseason.  He's had a rought patch skating for three teams last season but he is focused for AV's Nux. 

There you have it...debate amongst yourselves.

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