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Jeff Price (no relation)

So, you want a number one center, do ya?

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It's painfully obvious Montréal needs offense, after that debacle in the first round of the playoffs this year.  The thing is, what constitutes a number one center? There are 30 teams in the NHL...well, 31 next year, so I suppose it would be the top 31 Centers by points, yes?  This doesn't necessarily rate how good they are, just that they're the top 31 offensive centers in the league by points scored. (Note, I'm not picking the top on every team. Some teams had two number one centers -- like Pittsburgh -- or even FIVE, like Toronto. Others had none -- see Montreal.) Don't argue with me that "That guy didn't usually play that position..." -- this is what the NHL has them officially listed as.

 

Connor McDavid (yeah right)

Sidney Crosby (ha)

Nicklas Backstrom 

Mark Scheifele

Leon Draisaitl 

Ryan Getzlaf

Evgeni Malkin

Tyler Seguin

Auston Matthews

Mikael Granlund

Joe Pavelski

Jeff Carter

John Tavares

Eric Staal

Nazem Kadri

William Nylander

Mitch Marner

Ryan Johansen

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Alexander Wennberg

Sean Monahan

Ryan Kesler

Jonathan Toews

Mikko Koivu

Claude Giroux

Jack Eichel

Charlie Coyle

Brayden Schenn

Ryan Oreilly

Tyler Bozak

 

Now, if you step back a bit and look further down the list, you see some of the centers below Bozak were are better than many of the centers above him, so let's include a few more.

 

Derek Stepan

David Krejci

Vincent Trochek

Makael Backlund

Patrice Bergeron

Nathan MacKinnon

Logan Couture

Aleksander Barkov

Bo Horvat

Anze Kopitar

Rickard Rakell

Jonathan Marchessault

Sam Gagner

Jason Spezza

Henrik Sedin

Joe Thornton

 

There we have the top 47 centers in the NHL, listed by point totals in 2017. This also represents a spread of 50 points -- from McDavid's 100, to Joe Thornton's 50. Not all number one centers are created equally, it would seem.


Several of these guys, I'll freely admit, elicit a response of "Who?" from me when I read their name -- mostly western conference players on teams I don't give a shite about. Others I think of as fringe players, and yet here they are, in the list of the top 47 centers by points.

 

So we know Montreal needs a number one center. I just don't see how getting Tyler Bozak or Ryan O'Reilly makes us that much better. Keep in mind, a "number one center" cannot mean "only an elite center." Let's face it -- on that entire list, I see maybe 8 guys I'd consider "elite" -- and we're never getting any of them. 

So let's take it down a notch, and remove McDavid, Crosby, Backstrom, Scheifele, Getzlaf, Malkin, Matthews and Toews from contention. They're not moving.

 

So...what about Leon Draisaitl? Does he make us much better? I don't see him as the missing piece of this team. Nazem Kadri isn't going to save us, either.

 

And what would we have to give up to get a guy like Seguin or Pavelski? Again, I don't see it happening. 

 

We all talk about needing to get a center as if it's the simplest thing in the world to go out and get another GM to hand one over. 

 

I'll list two on that list I think could be game changers in Montreal, who could possibly move at a reasonable price...MAYBE: Eric Staal or John Tavares.

 

What do we have to give up to get one of those guys on this team? Because neither one can carry the team on their own. We need the core of the team intact for these guys to matter.

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Commandant    599

Why points

 

Wouldn't PTS/GM be a better measure, to not exclude guys who were injured. 

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11 minutes ago, Commandant said:

Why points

 

Wouldn't PTS/GM be a better measure, to not exclude guys who were injured. 

 

There's lots of things that would be a better measure. But I composed this post in 5 minutes.

 

Let's look at the same top 47 by points per game, and see what changes. Players who move into the top 47 are in bold.

 

Connor McDavid

Sidney Crosby

Steven Stamkos ^^

Evgeni Malkin 

Nicklas Backstrom

Mark Scheifele

Samuel Henley (1 game, 1 goal)

Ryan Getzlaf

Leon Draisaitl

Jack Eichel

Tyler Seguin

John Tavares

Aleksander Barkov

Mikael Granlund

Auston matthews

Joe Pavelski

Jake Guentzel (because Pittsburgh needed a 3rd top line center)

Jonathan Toews

Jeff Carter

Bryan Little

Eric Staal

Mitch Marner

Ryan O'Reilly

William Nylander

Nazem Kadri

Ryan Johansen

Alexander Wennberg

Jason Spezza

Mikko Koivu

Alex Galchenyuk (Well, well, lookie here)

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Rickard Rakell

Logan Couture

Sean Monahan

Ryan Kesler

Claude Giroux

Tyler Bozak

Kyle Turris

Artem Anisimov

Brayden Schenn

Mathieu Perrault

Anze Kopitar

Charlie Coyle

Tyler Johnson

Jonathan Marchessault

Derek Stepan

Patrice Bergeron

 

So now, we have #30 on the top Centers by offensive production per game already in Montreal. At that point, it seems we need a SECOND number one center. And with the possible exception of a healthy Steven Stamkos, whom I don't see us getting, not one of those guys I just added in makes Montreal into a dangerous offensive team. Some who now dropped off the list (Joe Thornton -- and Henrik if he came as a package with his twin) are probably better than most of the ones who were added onto it.

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Charlie Coyle has been more RW than centre, but I really like him. Montreal should have drafted him instead of moving up for Tinordi.

 

I am sure some would hate the idea of two centres still learning to take faceoffs but both guys are smart offensive players.

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I'll freely admit one of my favorite players in the NHL is very low on this list - Patrice Bergeron. I think of him as a bona fide, complete package, pure gentleman center man.

 

Three problems I see with him:

(1) He's in Boston. Trading with Boston would be hard.

(2) He's got a history of injury, which when combined with his age, I'd be reluctant to take on.

(3) He doesn't add enough offense on his own to make us an offensively capable team (He's not even Boston's #1 center) -- although the idea of Bergeron on a line with Pacioretty makes me giddy.

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Commandant    599
1 hour ago, Machine of Loving Grace said:

Charlie Coyle has been more RW than centre, but I really like him. Montreal should have drafted him instead of moving up for Tinordi.

 

I am sure some would hate the idea of two centres still learning to take faceoffs but both guys are smart offensive players.

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov should have been the Tinordi pick. 

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Commandant    599

Guys I'd knock off that list. 

Henley (sample sizes matter, use Pts/Game, but probably need 40 games to count).

Guentzel (played as winger) 

Marner (winger)

Nylander (winger)

Coyle (winger)

Thornton (played more as a winger, Pavelski is on his line, and Pavelski does the centre work now)  Pavelski had about 100 more faceoffs (they split draws to get on the strong side but Pavelski has the defensive centre responsibility and plays middle of the ice)

Marchessault (winger)
Perreault (winger)

 

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DON    9
7 hours ago, Commandant said:

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov should have been the Tinordi pick. 

Always thought Stephen John's should of been the pick that was traded away to move up and a big stay at home d-man of course should only be taken in 2nd round or later. 

As far as centres go, Bergy likely will trade for someone that many haven't considered a likely target.

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8 hours ago, Commandant said:

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov should have been the Tinordi pick. 

 

I'm sorry, my brain immediately goes to a hockey version of the Who's on First routine when I see that name.

 

Commentator: "Do you think Evgeny Kuznetsov will pick up the pace this series?"

Russian coach: "He vould have more goals, but some not count."

Commentator: "Why did they not count?"

Russian coach: "Kuznetsov."

Commentator: "Yes, Kuznetsov. Why did his goals not count?"

Russian coach: "Kuznetsov."

 

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I for one have never obsessed over the Stud #1 C. Yes, if you have a Malkin, that's ideal. But what you really need are quality pivots who can generate offence, period.

 

IF the Habs are prepared to accept that Galy at C is close to a PPG producer, and that he may never become Kirk Muller in terms of being a 'complete' player, then we do have one such C, and what we need is a legit #2 guy. Say, 50-60 points and reliably dynamic, like Pleks used to be. 

 

If the Habs continue to insist that Galchenyuk is worse than Danault - who is an excellent player but not a top-6 pivot on any contending team, ever - then they need to go out and get two top-6 C. Two 2nd line Cs would be better than zero top-6 Cs at all.

 

In short, we just need centremen, period. Whether it's a beast like Tavares or middling guys like Stepan is secondary, because as things stand the addition of ANY top-6 C would constitute gigantic improvement.

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