Wild West: Top Western Conference Centermen 2018-19
For part two of this series we are going to look at Centers in the West. We will be using the Fantasy Hockey Geek ranking tool to get a ranking that combines all of a player’s stats for the searched categories. For the purposes of this series, the ranks are based on a 12 team, head-to-head league, using the categories of goals, assists, power play points, shots, hits and blocks for forwards/defensemen and wins, saves, save percentage and goals against average for goalies. Player eligibility for this series is based on Yahoo, and any draft ranks are based on average draft positions compiled from Yahoo, ESPN and CBS by FantasyPros.
3. Tyler Seguin (20)
Tyler Seguin posted yet another strong year for Dallas. He ranks third among our centers, and 20th overall in value. Though he had a higher point pace in 2018-19, he actually put up fewer shots (334) and goals (33) than in 2017-18 (and faceoff wins if your league counts those). He also saw a slight drop in total time on ice. His power play points (27) and assists (47) were up.
His underlying numbers match what you might expect. His shooting percentage was down slightly from 2017-18, though about his usual average, his share of his team’s power play time was up, and is IPP was up. Those numbers are all pretty illustrative of a season where he got a few more power play points, more assists, and fewer goals. His most common linemates were, once again, Jamie Benn and Alex Radulov, though at times Benn at least was rotated off the line to try and spread the offense.
Overall 2018-19 was consistent with our expectations for Seguin at this point and it all looks like he is poised to repeat in 2019-10.
2. Connor McDavid (17)
The sky appears to be the limit for Connor McDavid. In his fourth season he set a career high in points (116) for the third consecutive year. He tied a career high in goals (41) and set a new high in power play points (33). There really isn’t all that much to say about him at this point. He is a unique talent and should be able to continue his production, even if Edmonton continues to flounder as a team.
Just for completion's sake I will note that he saw a career high shooting percentage (17%) in 2018-19 and that marks the third straight year that his shooting percentage rose. His three year average is closer to 15%. A 15% shooting year would have dropped him five goals. Also worth noting is that 2017-18 saw a drop in shot pace (240 total) from 2017-18, though still just over three shots a game. His total percent of his team’s power play has also risen for four straight years topping out in 2018-19 at 77.4%.
At the end of the day what does all of that mean? Well he is still Connor McDavid so I don’t think a small drop in shots and a slight drop in shooting percentage means anything too significant at this point. Maybe it means he is more likely to repeat his 115 point season rather than eclipse 120, but either way he is still a great own.
1. Nathan MacKinnon (6)
While Mackinnon does not beat McDavid in points (99 on the season) he just edges him in value due to prolific shooting (365 shots) and better peripherals. MacKinnon’s 99 points, was a career high, though the pace was slightly off 2017-18s full season pace. He also saw career high in goals, shots and power play points.
MacKinnon checks all of the boxes we would hope to check for a player having a career year. His career high in goals comes with a very reasonable 11.2% shooting percentage, due to the career high in shots. That career high in shots also came with a career high in total time on ice, at just over 22 minutes a night. His career high in power play points also came with a career high in power play time topping out at over four minutes a night.
The moral of this story is that everything looks great for a potential repeat in 2019-20. We might expect a career high season to come with inflated numbers somewhere, but that is just not the case. His shooting percentage, five on five team shooting percentage, and IPP are all on the normal to low side if anything.
Bubble Players (just missed a top ranking):
There were several dual eligible players ranked highly on this list that either have been or will be mentioned in other various articles, so I wanted to take as moment and mention Mark Scheifele. Scheifele is was the 76th ranked player and the fourth ranked dedicated center. Scheifele had a career high 84 points (though very similar point pace to previous years, he just finally played a full season). He also saw career highs in power play time and time on ice. Things look generally good for Scheifele making it seem likely he can repeat his output. One thing to note – his average shooting percentage over the last three seasons is over 19% which is quite high, and in the prior three years he averaged 12.23%. The sample sizes are relatively similar in terms of games played, however the power play time is the difference. His power play goal totals doubled from the first sample to the second, which leads me to believe that if he can keep up his power play position he can likely sustain that shooting percentage.
Anze Kopitar (145) had a resurgent 2017-18 and finished third overall in our rankings. In 2018-19 he, and the Kings in general fell short. He finished as the 145th most valuable player. He finished with 60 points in 81 games, with a slightly better second half than first. He might be due for a small bounce back but on the whole he seems more likely to score a 60 point 2019-20 than a 90.
Jonathan Toews (80) had the most productive season (81 points) of his career at age 31. Not only was it his best season, his next best was all the way back in 2010-11 where he put up 76 points. His average draft position of 128 compares pretty favorably to his more comparable center, Scheifele who was drafted 41st overall. Part of Toews production in 2018-19 is certainly that he played a full 82 game season for the first time since 2008-09, but another is that he saw a career high total time on ice, his second highest career power play time and the highest shooting percentage he has seen in three years. The Blackhawks are a bit of a question mark heading into 2019-20 and Toew’s value is really going to depend on how he is used. He clearly has point per game potential, but has spend much of the last five season at a 70ish point pace.
Thanks for reading. Next week, right wings.
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