It's been long said that a team with strength down the middle will go far. When I attempted to rank the top ten team's for centres it showed to be true as 8 of the teams on this list were in the playoffs last year and the other two were competitive, but then again who wasn't??
One thing that also became obvious is that there was a definite top 5 that were very close but quickly seperated themselves from the pack, not to the discredit of the bottom five who were only marginally behind the big 5
Without further adieu....
10: Buffalo Sabres - A healthy Derek Roy and newly signed Ville Leino returning to his true position are an excellent 1-2 duo in your top six. There's questions as to who will anchor the third line but Paul Gaustad dominated the circle and improved offensively, with Cody McCormick growing in to a likely fourth line role. This still leaves Nate Gerbe, Jokin Hecht and Co. incase of emergency.
9: Chicago Blackhawks - Oozing with top end talent the Hawks have gotten a little thin after losing John Madden and Ryan Johnson in consecutive years from the fourth line role. Kruger has big shoes to fill in those two men and Dave Bolland, a thorn in the side of all competitors with more offensive ability than he's shown yet is surprisingly weak in the circle, but Toews and Sharp more than buoy this group.
8: Tampa Bay - No wonder this rag-tag group made a run to the East finals. They had the top goal scoring centre in the league, a rejuvinated Vinny Lecavalier and breakout year from Dominic Moore. Nate Thompson is looking like a future great fourth line centre while Dana Tyrell and Jones are compitent replacements if need be.
7: Washington Capitals - Did you know Nick backstrom was a top ten in +/- and 52.5% in the dot? They paid a premium to keep Brooks Laich. Many questioned his pay given his points totals but everyone on Washington gave up some O this year. Just look at how well they improved defensively. Marcus Johansen is a question mark in the third line role but he has all the tools to fit the bill and the addition of Jeff Halpern, 56.9% on the draw last year and +6, are a huge improvement, nevermind incumbent Matt Hendricks is a rare combination of gritt and defensive ability with 110 PIM and 53.1% face off record.
6: Columbus Blue Jackets: back later