Wild West: Top Western Conference Centers 2017-18

by chriskane on May 14, 2018


This is the third of a multi-part series looking at the most valuable players at each position this year from the Western Conference (part one looked at right wings here, part two was left wings and is here). Just as a refresher, we are 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.


This week, centers.


Top 3


3. Anze Kopitar (43)


Rounding out our top three this week with an overall rank of 43 is Anze Kopitar. He had quite the comeback year in 2017-18 with 35 goals 57 assists and 92 points. He also added 200 shots and 28 power play points. He saw career highs in goals, assists, points, power play points and ice time, and almost doubled his point per game ratio from last year. The increased time on ice certainly helped this relative explosion of production, but so did a high shooting percentage (17.5 versus his 13.7 career average) and an a higher that usual IPP (the percent of goals Kopitar had a point on that were scored while he was on the ice). Some of the increase in those numbers could be attributed to a style change (we heard all last summer about how the Kings were going to become an offensive-minded team) but could also indicate that Kopitar might not be flying quite so high next year.


 2. Connor McDavid (40)


Our second ranked center this year was Connor McDavid. Yes, that is correct. Second. Controversial? McDavid, who has a career point pace of 1.22 points per game and who scored 108 points last year, "only" gets second in this particular ranking. His stat line for the year was 41 goals and 67 assists and 270 shots on goal. The real reason he is placing second  is his low Hit numbers (28), and the top finisher below also outperformed him in shots and power-play points.


It was a good season by McDavid. But I definitely heard some grumbling from folks early on as he was “just” on a point per game pace, but he certainly picked it up in the second half, scoring 37 points over his final 21 games.


1.  Nathan MacKinnon

What a year Nathan MacKinnon had. After floundering in the low 50’s for the last two seasons, he absolutely exploded for 97 points in 74 games. He finished the season with a higher point pace, more shots, power play points and hits than McDavid to cement himself as the best centerman to own this year. He scored 39 goals and 58 assists, while adding 284 shots and 32 power play points. He found significant chemistry with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen bringing both of them along for the ride and support their career seasons. Like Kopitar, some of his personal numbers were a bit high, leading to some speculation as to whether or not he can keep up this new pace, but everyone who managed to grab MacKinnon this year got quite the steal. 



Bubble Players (just missed a top ranking)


There was quite a gap at center after our top three, but Eric Staal is worth a mention. It is clear that Minnesota agrees with him, just look at the points scored of the last four seasons, two with Minnesota and two not. Sometimes a change of scene does the body good.



Games Played




Minnesota (2 Seasons)





Previous 2 seasons








Notable Absences


Mark Scheifele (181) misses the list this year only because he spent time injured and played 60 games. He had a point per game season when healthy and has more than made up for lost time in the playoffs. Ryan Johansen (185), on the other hand, struggled to live up to his draft position, only managing 54 points in 79 games.



Surprising Value


I have to give a nod to MacKinnon again here as he tops our centerman list, but was drafted an average of 135th overall. That being said, I would be incredibly remis if I did not give serious some credit to William Karlsson. He was our sixth-ranked centerman in the west this year, 104th overall, and was not drafted in most leagues. Karlsson had an incredible year and I think we all know the story at this point. Seemingly unwanted in Columbus, he joined the upstart Vegas Knights and shocked the league by scoring 43 goals (almost 5 times his previous high of 9). It is amazing what can happen when you have a chip on your shoulder and an opportunity to prove yourself. He has continued to impress over the postseason and I think we are all intrigued by what he will bring to the table next year. The only thing I think we can say for sure is that he is unlikely to be the free agent steal he was this year.


Thanks for reading. Next week, defensemen.




Recent Wild West Columns

Top Western Conference Left Wings 2017-18

Top Western Conference Right Wings 2017-18