Ramblings: News of the Day, Center Groups (Sept 21)

by Ian Gooding on September 21, 2019


Another RFA has been signed, although it’s not one of the big names. Tony DeAngelo has signed a one-year contract with the Rangers. The offensively gifted blueliner scored 30 points (4g-26a) in 61 games, which was his first full NHL season. DeAngelo was one of my keepers during Bubble Keeper Week, so I won’t expand on him much further here. Now that DeAngelo is signed and Kevin Shattenkirk is now in Tampa Bay, fantasy owners can feel more secure in taking a flier on him.

Speaking of the Lightning and the Rangers… Dan Girardi has announced his retirement. Girardi did all right for a player who was never drafted, carving out a 13-season NHL career as a mostly defensive defenseman. His career high was 31 points, which he accrued during the 2010-11 season.

The Lightning placed Louis Domingue on waivers. The signing of super backup Curtis McElhinney may have gotten lost under the pile of July 1 signings, but it has essentially bumped Domingue. We’ll have to see whether another team decides to bring him on as a backup goalie.

After Ryan Poehling’s hat trick during his NHL debut during the Habs’ season finale, you may have decided that he would be one of your deep sleepers. Well, Poehling has been sidelined indefinitely with a concussion, which puts his availability for opening night in doubt. With Poehling out of the lineup at least for more preseason games, Nick Suzuki’s chances of making the big club for at least an audition will improve. If you haven’t seen Suzuki’s shootout goal from Thursday, here it is:
 


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In recent Ramblings, I’ve listed groups (tiers) for both goalies and defensemen. Today I’m going to tackle centers. For these groups, I’m listing players that are only center eligible in Yahoo leagues. In other words, if a player has winger eligibility, he is not listed here. So before you draft the player, make sure you’re aware of positional eligibility. What matters is how the system you are using classifies him, not how you think he should be classified, since those changes don’t always get made.

In these clusters (I like that term too), I’m approaching this by looking for commonalities between players in a number of ways, which I’ll list below. Generally speaking, a higher group’s players should be drafted higher than a lower group’s players, but that may not always be the case between two players. As well, I probably won’t reach every fantasy-relevant center here, but I should at least cover the ones that matter the most.

Group 1 – The First Overall Franchise PlayersConnor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Sidney Crosby – These are exactly as the name describes: your generational players. Each should be good for at least 90+ points and could even reach 100 under the right circumstances. That might seem obvious with McDavid, but remember that he is still recovering from a knee injury. Regardless, you will definitely need a first-round pick in a 12-team draft for each. Also keep in mind that MacKinnon has never reached 100 points, but this might finally be the year.

Group 2 – Late 20s Second-Round StudsTyler Seguin, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos – Also as the name suggests, all are in their late 20s (between 27 and 29). As well, you will need a second-round pick for each, and they could even go later in the first round in pure scoring formats. All have been picked in the top 2 in their draft year, with Seguin the only one to not be picked first overall. All should be good for 80 points barring injury and could even reach 90 under the right circumstances. Tavares and Seguin, by the way, has never had 90-point seasons.

Group 3 – The Up-and-ComersAleksander Barkov, Jack Eichel, Auston Matthews, Brayden Point, Sebastian Aho, Elias Pettersson – Now we start to get into our larger groups. This group consists of centers all under the age of 25 who likely haven’t already experienced career seasons. The player who has the highest value in this group is Barkov, who is also the oldest in the group. Pettersson would be at the low point presently, having just played his rookie season and at 20 is also the youngest. Most are potential 80-point players, so they should be drafted right after Group 2 in the third and fourth rounds.

Note: With Point unsigned at the time of writing, fantasy owners might want to wait another round beyond this group. The latest on Point’s contract negotiations describes he and the Lightning not that close.  

Group 4 – Value Picks, Not Too OldMark Scheifele, Mika Zibanejad, Dylan Larkin, Sean Couturier, Vincent Trocheck, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Sean Monahan, Ryan O’Reilly, Bo Horvat, Mathew Barzal, Matt Duchene – This is an even larger group in which all are under 30. In fact, it’s a nice range that covers most of the 20s years.

Truthfully, not every center on this list is great value. For example, Scheifele’s ADP of 42.9 is okay for pure points leagues, but he shouldn’t be drafted this high in multicategory leagues, as he doesn’t post considerable peripherals. Add to that the names that are missing from Jets’ training camp and his production could dip depending on who will return.

Many of these players will be drafted in the top 100, but you’ll find great value after pick 100 for a few of these players. For example, Larkin’s 126.6 ADP is criminally low, while Trocheck’s 150 ADP is representative of the considerable time he missed last season. Horvat at a 163 ADP is also solid value, as his points per game has climbed steadily in each of his five seasons and he’ll likely have more talented wingers this season.

Note: ADPs listed are for Yahoo leagues

Group 5 – Established VeteransPatrice Bergeron, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Nicklas Backstrom, Anze Kopitar, Logan Couture, Ryan Getzlaf – Here’s the 30-and-over group, who like Group 4 has a wider range of values than the earlier groups. All have been or still are number one centers on their teams (except for Malkin, but he would be on just about any other team). Values will vary, but all of these centers have likely already posted their career highs. They still hold their own, even in keeper leagues, but there won’t be a lot of room for growth. Another 80-point season or two is possible from each of these players, but not likely.

I never thought I’d say this five years ago, but two-way center Bergeron appears to be the leader of the pack here. His ADP of 31 seems quite high for me, though, especially considering he’s been having groin trouble already. Malkin is perfectly capable of having an incredible season, but many fantasy owners have already given up because of the 10-20 games that injuries seem to cost him every season.

On the other end of the scale is Getzlaf, who could rebound if he can stay healthy. Getzlaf has missed an average of 20 games over each of the past two seasons because of injuries. So wear and tear is a factor with this group, and it could start to affect the others in the group who have managed to stay healthy up to this point.

Group 6 – Rookies and Sleepers Jack Hughes, Sam SteelDylan Strome, Kevin Hayes, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nazem Kadri, Nico Hischier, Anthony Cirelli – With the exception of Hughes (who many fantasy owners will reach for, perhaps even within the top 100), these centers can likely be found after pick 150. These are players who could easily improve on their production last season, in a few cases from changing teams (Hayes, Kadri). Perhaps the truest sleeper of this group is Cirelli, who will benefit tremendously if he is moved up the Lightning’s lineup. There are certainly players who could be added to this list as well.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.