Eastern Edge: Ranking the Centres

by Cam Metz on October 2, 2018



Tonight is the last night for all of the drafts you prepared for – if you’ve been waiting to purchase the Dobber Fantasy guide just go download it now and make sure you’re all set for tonight.  Even if you have already drafted, there will be great info on who to target for trades in your league. 

Based on the feedback from readers this ADP vs Rank has been a great exercise.  This week we’ll take a look at Center rankings.  Keep in mind this is the below framework for the analysis:

  1. The data below represents 56 players being drafted and rostered  at each position
  2. My blueline strategy is going to significantly differ from most experts – please read this for the reasoning. This strategy will affect the rankings of positional players.
  3. Positions matter more than most are willing to admit
  4. I don’t care about goalies and nor should you – I dare you to skip goalies
  5. Value over replacement is the primary method I use to rank players
  6. ADPs on Yahoo! Are significantly skewed by decimals – you could have ten players ranked at 162: 162.1, 162.2, 162.3 etc.  – You need to think critically.
  7. Whenever a player is given dual eligibility I take the wing as their position.   In a (LW,RW) case I shift them to RW since historically I’ve had a harder time finding value at that position.  Otherwise a (C,LW) is classified as LW.
  8. For all the readers last week that pointed out the graph changing between twitter and here – nice eye! Double check the axis and I’ll do the same.
  9. Please keep in mind that stat categories are only goals, assists, SOG, and PP

A brief overview of the data is as follows; I compiled five fantasy expert hockey predictions together and averaged the following stats: goals, assists, SOG, and PP.   I scored the players within their positional groups and then divided the total of each position by the stats that I felt were indicative of value.  If you’ve read the above link of the blueline you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Here is an explanation of the graph that will be generated using the above data:



The point to be had from all of this is that if you’re drafting John Tavares in the first round and then you find yourself wondering if you should take Jack Eichel in the second you’re probably better off drafting Johnny Gaudreau and allocating that additional Center draft capital to another position.  You can only have so many Centers on your roster; drafting best player available doesn’t allow you to maximize value.

Here is a link to the tweet that shows the graph in more detail.  When you look at the graph what do you see?



What I notice is the following:

  1. Guys like Aleksander Barkov, Ryan Getzlaf, and Vincent Trocheck are being drafted right where experts expect them to fall after positional value is considered.
  2. I cannot wait to draft Ryan O’Rielly – talk about a homerun easy pick about 5 rounds earlier than the competition in FW leagues just to make sure you get the number one guy in the league.
  3. Jeff Carter is being undervalued after an injury-plagued season.
  4. Even on a bad team Jonathan Drouin should provide some value
  5. Anze Kopitar and his 17.5% shooting percentage looks like it is being correctly accounted for by the experts – not so much by poolies and ADP.
  6. If you’re sitting between the second and third round it would probably be wise to draft Jack Eichel – it’s rare to find someone that low rank but that high in ADP.
  7. I like Matt Duchene this year and his numbers suggest that even on a bad team with that much deployment he’s going to be able to provide value.
  8. Dylan Larkin and his lack of PP points last year hasn’t move the needle on experts enough to create value compared to his ADP.
  9. Bo Horvat should be a nice 3rd center on any team this year – especially those who count FW
  10. Evgeny Kuznetsov has a fairly wide range of projections from the experts which is likely the reason he is not closer to the expected confidence intervals. 

An important thing to remember is that this is not the rankings of the experts- this is the statistical breakdown of the rankings, which is more indicative of value than rankings.

There a three Eastern conference centers I think worth looking at:

Patrice Bergeron – Bergy is one of my favorite centers to draft.  His shooting percentage was higher than the year prior but certainly not out of the realm of repeatable this year.  His shot volume at 5v5 helps ensure that he can maintain production on a nightly basis – and if your league factors in FW, he comes a must draft in the third round.  The biggest concern compared to last year is that his IPP was a career high even though his primary assist rate was 60%.   The top line for the Bruins has all three players going in the first three rounds.  To get exposure to this line its plug and play with the cheapest ADP.    

Mathew Barzal is expected to collect a lot of points but apparently not enough to bring his rank of 100 into line with an ADP much higher.  Positional scarcity is the culprit.  I think Barzal will repeat his strong numbers but his lack of SOG and FW hamper is overall value.  I’ll take Bergeron eight picks earlier for consistency and line mate exposure.

Nico Hischier – I wrote about here how primary assist percentage of 60% or higher is indicative of future points scored. Last season Hischier has a primary assist rate of 75%.   He’s being drafted criminally late at 159, and could easily reach 65 points – most experts have him in the 60 point range.  The value is that if you’re planning on taking Hischier you can allocate your draft capital to the blueline. 

It’s conceivable that you could have Bergeron, O’Rielly, and Hischier all hitting 65+ points and cleaning up leagues with FW.  This is why value plays in every round create the optimal lineup.

There is a ton of players up near the top right hand of the graph so I figured I would breakdown the names for you and provide a stat that is ADP minus Ranking.  As an example – a player with a ranking of 19 and an ADP of 40 would provide positive value of 21.  Barzal is on here because he ranks in the plus 100 range of players due to his position and expert expectations.


In summary by maximizing the value of the C position you can help create team value that significantly trumps your opponents. 

Keep an eye on my twitter @DH_jcameronmetz – I’ll be positing the defense graph tonight.


More positional rankings from Eastern Edge

Left Wing

Right Wing