It's the best time of year!
Fantasy Week here at RLD has officially kicked off. Here is our preview for centers, with some bonus analysis below from Dobber Hockey’s Jeff Angus…
1. Sidney Crosby, PIT
2010/11: 41 GP, 32 G, 34 A, 66 Pts, +20
3-year Avg: 66 GP, 39 G, 54 A, 93 Pts, +13
When healthy, Sid is the top fantasy player. But his concussion is a concern for managers.
2. Henrik Sedin, VAN
2010/11: 82 GP, 19 G, 75 A, 94 Pts, +26
3-year Avg: 82 GP, 23 G, 73 A, 96 Pts, +28
The Canucks captain hasn’t missed a game since the lockout and is a good bet for 90-100 points.
3. Steven Stamkos, TB
2010/11: 82 GP, 45 G, 46 A, 91 Pts, +3
3-year Avg: 81 GP, 40 G, 37 A, 77 Pts, -4
A consistent campaign could translate into another 50-goal output from Stamkos.
4. Evgeni Malkin, PIT
2010/11: 43 GP, 15 G, 22 A, 37 Pts, -4
3-year Avg: 64 GP, 26 G, 50 A, 76 Pts, +2
‘Geno hasn’t been the same since the 2009 playoffs, but is determined to bounce back.
5. Nicklas Backstrom, WSH
2010/11: 77 GP, 18 G, 47 A, 65 Pts, +24
3-year Avg: 80 GP, 24 G, 60 A, 84 Pts, +26
Which Backstrom are you getting? Bet safely on somewhere in between his 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
6. Joe Thornton, SJ
2010/11: 80 GP, 21 G, 49 A, 70 Pts, +4
3-year Avg: 80 GP, 22 G, 60 A, 82 Pts, +12
Thornton is a safe pick despite the steady decrease in points every year since the lockout.
7. Ryan Getzlaf, ANA
2010/11: 67 GP, 19 G, 57 A, 76 Pts, +14
3-year Avg: 71 GP, 21 G, 58 A, 79 Pts, +8
He plays on one of the league’s top offensive lines, but has been injured in each of the last two years.
8. Anze Kopitar, LA
2010/11: 75 GP, 25 G, 48 A, 73 Pts, +25
3-year Avg: 80 GP, 29 G, 44 A, 73 Pts, +5
The Kings’ top pivot now has company at center, but is still a solid pick with 90-point potential.
9. Brad Richards, NYR
2010/11: 72 GP, 28 G, 49 A, 77 Pts, +1
3-year Avg: 69 GP, 23 G, 49 A, 72 Pts, -5
New York’s big free agent signee will have Marian Gaborik on his wing. Richards will be just fine.
10. Matt Duchene, COL
2010/11: 80 GP, 27 G, 40 A, 67 Pts, -8
2-year Avg: 81 GP, 26 G, 35 A, 61 Pts, -4
Entering his third NHL season, Duchene is primed to put together his most complete season yet.
11. Jonathan Toews, CHI
2010/11: 80 GP, 32 G, 44 A, 76 Pts, +25
3-year Avg: 79 GP, 30 G, 41 A, 71 Pts, +20
You know what you’re getting from Captain Serious, a borderline No. 1 center in fantasy leagues.
12. Jeff Carter, CBJ
2010/11: 80 GP, 36 G, 30 A, 66 Pts, +27
3-year Avg: 79 GP, 38 G, 32 A, 70 Pts, +17
It may take some time for Carter to adjust to West, but the potential is huge alongside Rick Nash.
13. Pavel Datsyuk, DET
2010/11: 56 GP, 23 G, 36 A, 59 Pts, +11
3-year Avg: 72 GP, 27 G, 48 A, 75 Pts, +21
His days of racking up 90-100 points may be in the past. That said, you can’t go wrong with Datsyuk.
14. Eric Staal, CAR
2010/11: 81 GP, 33 G, 43 A, 76 Pts, -10
3-year Avg: 78 GP, 34 G, 40 A, 74 Pts, +3
Staal has been pretty consistent over the last handful of years, but don’t count on him as your top center.
15. Patrick Marleau, SJ
2010/11: 82 GP, 37 G, 36 A, 73 Pts, -3
3-year Avg: 80 GP, 40 G, 36 A, 76 Pts, +11
In most leagues Marleau will have left wing eligibility, where he may be more valuable.
16. John Tavares, NYI
2010/11: 79 GP, 29 G, 38 A, 67 Pts, -16
2-year Avg: 81 GP, 26 G, 34 A, 60 Pts, -16
A sexy breakout pick last year, it’s only a matter of time before Tavares becomes a point-per-game player.
17. Patrick Sharp, CHI
2010/11: 74 GP, 34 G, 37 A, 71 Pts, -1
3-year Avg: 72 GP, 28 G, 32 A, 60 Pts, +10
Sharp fires a lot of shots on goal and can do more than just score 30-plus goals.
18. Paul Stastny, COL
2010/11: 74 GP, 22 G, 35 A, 57 Pts, -7
3-year Avg: 67 GP, 18 G, 39 A, 57 Pts, -5
Stastny has the potential to be a good fantasy player, but could be risky with Duchene taking the top-line production.
19. Ryan Kesler, VAN
2010/11: 82 GP, 41 G, 32 A, 73 Pts, +24
3-year Avg: 82 GP, 31 G, 38 A, 69 Pts, +11
The do-it-all Vancouver center could miss the beginning of the season due to hip surgery.
20. Mike Richards, LA
2010/11: 81 GP, 23 G, 43 A, 66 Pts, +11
3-year Avg: 81 GP, 28 G, 41 A, 69 Pts, +10
I don’t think there’s any doubt Richards will be a great fit in L.A.; it’s just a matter of if it will translate to big numbers offensively.
Note: Rankings are based on projected 2011-12 stats, not based on 2010-11 or 3-year stats.
Sleeper: Mike Ribeiro
In Ribeiro’s last four years in Dallas, he has quietly averaged 0.93 points per game. Last season he racked up 52 assists and 71 points while playing second fiddle to the likes of Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson. With Richards now in New York, Ribeiro takes over as the Stars’ top-line pivot and could be a shrewd middle- or late-round pick in fantasy drafts.
Bust or Trust: Tim Connolly?
For someone who has the label as arguably the most injury prone player in the league, Connolly has averaged over 70 games played in his past two seasons. He’s going to be the straw that stirs the offense in Toronto, centering the top offensive line and quarterbacking the top power play unit. His hands are elite, and he sees the ice very well. Even if the Leafs only get 50-60 games out of him, they will receive a huge upgrade in performance compared to what they were getting from Tyler Bozak over the past few seasons. If you draft Connolly, expect him to miss some time and plan accordingly.
- Jeff Angus
Listen, if Connolly’s healthy and playing well, he produces. That is a big if. How can you trust a player that has missed 190 games over the last six years? Not to mention, he’s coming off a subpar year in which he stayed on the ice more than normal. Connolly will be surrounded by Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul in Toronto – not a bad couple of linemates. But Connolly is very injury-prone and a liability for fantasy hockey managers.
- Ryan Porth
Draft Day Dilemma: Mike Richards or Jeff Carter?
Carter and his new line-mate Rick Nash were one and two in the NHL in even strength shots on goal last season. Right now, it is up in the air as to who will be the third member of the line. Carter will shift back to his natural position of center, but he’ll need someone to get him the puck if he wants to score like he is capable of doing. In LA, Richards will center the second line with Dustin Brown and Simon Gagne. He isn’t the goal scorer that Carter is, but he’s an underrated playmaker and he can produce in all situations. Take Richards, unless your league values goals over assists.
- Jeff Angus
The Blue Jackets’ big off-season addition promises to have a great fantasy year. Carter, who scored 36 times in 2010-11, has evolved into a prolific goal-scoring threat every time the puck is on his stick. He has been in the top five of the NHL’s shots leaders in each of the last three years. Though Carter leaves a talented Flyers team, he will play beside Rick Nash for the next decade. Richards will be good in Los Angeles, but may not be a focal-point player like Carter will be in Columbus’ offensive attack.
- Ryan Porth
Rookie to watch: Brayden Schenn
Due to the departure of both Richards and Carter, someone has to help fill their respective voids. Brayden Schenn, whom the Flyers acquired in return for Richards, is expected to crack the opening night lineup. Schenn has bought his time in juniors and is seasoned for being just 20 years old. He may not be placed in an ideal role on the third line; however, he’s one of the best prospects in the sport. If somebody goes down in the top six, Schenn will be able to step up.
Mikhail Grabovski, TOR… Grabovski tallied 29 goals and 58 points in 2010-11. Can he repeat that success in an important contract year?
Olli Jokinen, CGY… At 32 years old, could he overachieve and put together his best season in Calgary?
Tuomo Ruutu, CAR… Ruutu, who will have multi-position eligibility, could be in for a good year since the ‘Canes are thin on productive forwards.
Note: Stat categories taken into consideration – G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, SOG
Photo credit: Getty Images
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