Top 10 Fantasy Centers of the Past Decade
The unflagging Sidney Crosby ushered in the decennium by netting Team Canada’s golden OT winner at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Connor McDavid carries the torch into the new decade at supersonic speed. Two generational talents, perfect bookends to venerate the hockey years 2010 to 2019.
Consistency has to be the most important factor in fantasy hockey, never mind in real-world hockey. And, of course, health is the prime essential toward that goal. Points amassed over the 10-year period – in varied breakdown – act as the evident other.
So, following up on colleague Cam Robinson’s 10 best fantasy hockey wingers of the decade, let’s dive into our countdown of the top 10 centers, more often than not the cornerstones of our fantasy hockey teams:
(statistics as of December 24, 2019)
10. CONNOR MCDAVID
Even if he has suited up for only 327 games in the latter half of the decade, McDavid just had to be included on this list. His 1.33 points-per-game average tops all pivot contenders, followed closely by Crosby’s 1.25 and Malkin’s 1.16. Really, there’s no need to delve into McDavid’s out-of-this-world talent any further, let’s just watch the soon-to-be 23-year-old re-write the record book, as he tears apart the upcoming decade.
9. RYAN GETZLAF
Power is the name of this hombre’s game. A swashbuckling physical force that will run over his opponent when need be, Getzlaf is the oldest player on this list at 34 years old. More of a playmaker than a goal scorer – he has hit the 30-goal mark just once in his career (2013-14) – the all-time Duck recorded six 50-assist seasons in the past decade. Injuries have at times modified his season-ending totals, but not enough to have prevented Getzlaf from registering the fourth-most assists (464 in only 684 outings) of all names on this list.
8. TYLER SEGUIN
Drafted second overall by Boston amid the Taylor (Hall) vs Tyler hype in 2010, Seguin immediately jumped into the NHL and has proven to be as consistent as they come. Similar to Claude Giroux and Nicklas Backstrom. While he may not have reached the lofty heights in terms of offensive production that some may have projected, the 27-year-old has racked up six consecutive seasons of 72 points or more to close out the decade. In fact, it could have been seven if not for the 2012-13 lockout campaign. Or, eight if he had collected just five more points during a 67-point sophomore effort in 2011-12.
7. ANZE KOPITAR
Aside from two somewhat down seasons in terms of offensive production during the end of the decade, Kopitar, like Getzlaf (but minus the snarl), embodies the prototypical, elite power center. You want complete? The leader of two Stanley Cup LA Kings’ formations in the first half of the decade, Kopi sits seventh overall in points but still managed to capture two Frank Selke trophies, the only player on this list to win even one. Rarely injured, the boxcar-like vet with the stalwart stride has produced a yearly average of 67.8 points over the last 10 years.
Man, if it wasn’t for durability issues, Malkin would surely be in a top-3 spot on this list. One of Dobber’s renowned Band-Aid Boys, Malkin played 70 or more games in a season just twice during the decade. Overall, he finished in sixth spot with 693 points, but a was sizzling third in points per game (1.16) behind only McDavid (1.33) and Crosby (1.25). A character performer – when it’s the other way around and teammate Sid has been injured, Geno has often made a strong case as hockey’s most dominant player. Two Stanley Cups, a Hart Trophy and an Art Ross are highlights of an illustrious 2010-19 decade. (Ed. Note: Aside from another Cup, Malkin is an Art Ross winner in the previous decade, as well)
The Swedish playmaker challenged for a superior spot on this ledger, but feeding Alex Ovechkin has been hockey’s most plum of jobs in recent memory, hence the slight slide to the fifth slot. Nonetheless, that’s not to say Backstrom wouldn’t have been a top player if not for Ovi – that would be wrong. A world-class forward at both ends of the rink, Backstrom’s sweet passes and instinctive offense-generating acumen propelled him atop the assists board with 509. Durable, he played full seasons each and every year aside from 2011-12, when he was forced to miss half the sked because of a concussion. Steady as clockwork, he’s a shade under the point-per-game plateau (0.97) in the last 10 years.
4. JOHN TAVARES
One of the surest pair of hands to ever manipulate the NHL’s rubber disc, Toronto’s present-day team captain never recorded fewer than 66 points in a season (2012-13 lockout aside). At a certain point mid-decade, Tavares was considered by many as fantasy hockey’s most-valued forward. During the 2014-15 campaign, and smack-dab into his prime years, he was inched out of a scoring title by Jamie Benn, who recorded 87 points to his 86. Over the 10-year stanza, Tavares averaged 71 points per season, and finished second only to Steven Stamkos in total snipes with 317.
Some may be surprised to see the veteran Flyer as the No.3 guy on this honor roll, but diehard poolies will certainly vouch for him. Durable, a safe bet, year in and year out, that’s Giroux, who missed but nine outings and recorded 100 points-or-more just once (102 two seasons ago). And possibly surprisingly for many others, he sits second only to Crosby in points collected with 734. With faceoffs becoming a bonus category for numerous fantasy leagues in recent years, Giroux’s value only solidified. Rarely out of action, his 774 games played top the leaderboard.
Along with Crosby, the lethal sniper was arguably fantasy hockey’s hottest property as the NHL welcomed in the new decade. By the end of 2011-12, Stamkos was coming off successive 51-, 45- and 60-goal seasons, each one of 90 points or more. Unfortunately, two injury-marred campaigns in the middle portion of the 10-year segment slowed him down a couple of clicks. He took part in only 37 and 17 games, respectively, during the 2013-14 and 2016-17 campaigns, and picked up but 60 points combined for poolies alike. Thirteen other contenders for this list at the center position played more games than Stamkos, but despite missing the majority of those two seasons, the Bolt still leads them all with 362 goals. And he’s third in points with 715, too, just behind Sid and Giroux.
Easy one, eh. Sid the Kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia encountered more than his share of ailments in the first-third of the decade – missing roughly 150 games in total – but, injured, concussed, or not, it didn’t stop him from providing fantasy leaguers with the most points of all centermen in the world during the years in question: 788 of them. Heck, he’s gotta be the player of the decade, right? Right. From 2010 to 2019: Two Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe trophies, a Hart, an Art Ross, a ‘Rocket’ Richard, three 100-point seasons, his 1,000th point, and three first Team All-Star nominations are the tip of the iceberg.
Merry Christmas to all!!
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