This week the NHL Network ranked the league’s twenty best centers. Lady Byng trophy winner William Karlsson came in at 17th place, not bad for a guy who wasn’t rated in the top 100 last season. Connor McDavid, Anze Kopitar, Ryan Getzlaf and Leon Draisaitl were the other Pacific Division centers to make the NHL Network’s list.
Karlsson is the 17th ranked Center in the league, and 3rd in the Pacific. Not bad. pic.twitter.com/QArrXeMgDy
— Jason R. Pothier (@JRPothier) August 6, 2018
So let’s have some fun and rank the top centers in the Pacific Division.
1. Connor McDavid: There’s not much to write. McDavid has 256 career points in 205 games, averaging 1.22 points per game. The Edmonton center has more points (208), goals created (77), assists per game (.84), and adjusted points (220) than any other player in the NHL since 2015-16. McDavid will continue to remain the top center in the division, and the league for many, many years.
2. Anze Kopitar: Again, this is another no-brainer. The Kings captain has averaged almost a point of game over his career, and put up his best (1.12) PPG average last season. After 12 NHL seasons, the Slovenian continues to get better. Kopitar ended the season with a career-high 92 points, and took home the Selke trophy. Also, he’s a faceoff wizard. Against Vegas in the postseason, Kopitar posted a 60.4% faceoff win percentage. Pretty impressive, considering the puck was in his zone most of the series.
3. William Karlsson: I battled myself trying to be as objective as possible and at the end of the day, ranking Karlsson third behind McDavid and Kopitar was the only right decision. Most of the players on this list have consistently produced for multiple seasons. However, the overall skill Karlsson showcased leads you to believe he’ll repeat his production from 2017-18.
4. Leon Draisaitl: In three full seasons, Draisaitl has scored 73 goals and 198 points. He posted almost a point a game in back-to-back years. For such a miserable season, Draisaitl, and McDavid of course, were the lone bright spots for Edmonton.
5. Ryan Getzlaf: Getzlaf is still very much a top line center and should get back to a 70+ point season. He’s ninth in points per game (.95), and fifth in assists per game (.68) for active players. In 2017-18 Getzlaf led the entire NHL with .89 assists per game. The 32-year-old has posted 50+ assists in the last three seasons.
6. Sean Monahan: Calgary’s top center had a strong season scoring 31 goals, and 11 game-winning goals. Monahan has impressively scored 22+ goals in every season of his career, and he’s only 23.
7. Logan Couture: Golden Knights fans watched the Sharks center come up big for San Jose in the playoffs. Couture had 7 points in the six-game series loss to Vegas, including a game-winning goal in Game 2. Only twice has the 29-year-old failed to score more than 20 goals.
Ranking Karlsson so high could be seen as hometown bias. Some will argue the consistency of Getzlaf, Couture, and even Draisaitl and Monahan should rank higher than Karlsson. Given how big of a role he’ll play offensively for the Golden Knights, and the amount of goals they should score, I don’t think it’s a stretch to rank him third. When you throw in the incredible defensive prowess, it’s hard to see Karlsson’s production to drop significantly.
Try to rank the centers yourself, it’s tough to shift Wild Bill down.