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Ranking the Top 20 Centers for Fantasy Hockey in 2011-2012

1. Steven Stamkos C Tampa Bay Lightning Stamkos can be a playmaker or a sniper at center for the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Stamkos enters his 4th year and is coming off back to back 90 point seasons.  Stamkos is a consistent player while Sidney Crosby is coming off an injury.  Even if Crosby recovers there is no guarantee Crosby fully recovers.  Crosby is still a top player in the league, but I’d rather take Stamkos #1 overall in fantasy hockey leagues this season.

2. Sidney Crosby C Pittsburgh Penguins Crosby has the ability to be a playmaker or a sniper at center. Crosby was on pace for a career year with 66 points in 41 games before suffering a season ending injury.  I’d draft Crosby #1, but drafting Crosby #1 overall is a huge risk this season.  Its better to be safe than sorry by drafting Sidney Crosby second in your fantasy hockey leagues behind Steven Stamkos.

3. Henrik Sedin C Vancouver Canucks Henrik Sedin is a top 5 pick in fantasy hockey leagues.  Henrik Sedin is the captain and playmaker center for the Vancouver Canucks.  After Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby I have Henrik Sedin as my top pick.

4. Brad Richards C New York Rangers Brad Richards was 3rd in points at center behind Henrik Sedin and Steven Stamkos last season on a Dallas Stars team.  He joins Marion Gaborik on the New York Rangers who scored 22 goals last season at right wing.  Brad Richards will help boost the stats of Gaborik.

Richards will be a top 8 pick in fantasy leagues.  Richards, Datsyuk, and Malkin will all go in the top 8.  Richards, Datsyuk, and Malkin.  The three centers could go 6, 7, and 8 in any order.  I like Richards, Datsyuk, and Malkin in that order because I’m hesitant about taking Malkin as a top 5 center coming off his injury.  You cannot go wrong with Richards, Datsyuk, or Malkin if you are picking in the top 8.

5. Pavel Datsyuk C Detroit Red Wings Datsyuk was 5oth in points, but his teammate Henrik Zetterberg was 9th in points due to Datsyuk’s playmaking ability.  Get Datsyuk if your picking in the top 8.

6. Evgeni Malkin C Pittsburgh Penguins I’m slightly concerned about Malkin’s injury status.  If he was completely healthy he would be a top 5 center.  Take Malkin 8th in your fantasy hockey leagues.

7. Jonathan Toews C Chicago Blackhawks Toews is a playmaker center who can set up scoring opportunities for sniper Patrick Kane.  Toews is a player that I would draft 11th overall.

8. Ryan Getzlaf C Anaheim Ducks Ryan Getzlaf is a playmaker center who sets up scoring opportunities for Corey Perry.  Perry led the NHL with 50 goals last season.

9. Eric Staal C Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal is the #1 center for the Carolina Hurricanes.  He’s probably the best center available at this point.

10. Jordan Staal C Pittsburgh Penguins Staal was effective as a line 1 center for the Pittsburgh Penguins when Crosby and Malkin were injured.  Jordan Staal is a very underrated center who is only peaking at the right time.

11. Mike Richards C Los Angeles Kings Mike Richards will probably be the line 1 center for the Los Angeles Kings.  If Kopitar is the line 1 center I’ll move Richards down to #12.

12. Anze Kopitar C Los Angeles Kings Kopitar is a top 12 center.  Now the question is whether Kopitar is a line 1 or line 2 center.

13. Claude Giroux C Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux is one of the more underrated centers in the NHL.  Giroux is ready to prove he is a line 1 center.

14. Jeff Carter C Columbus Blue Jackets Jeff Carter will help Columbus as a line 1 center.  He played a line 3 center role and is finally ready to be a line 1 center.

15. Ryan Kesler C Vancouver Canucks Ryan Kesler had a huge playoff campaign he may continue that trend this season in the regular season.

16. John Tavares C New York Islanders Players who are drafted in the top 5 usually have breakout seasons in their 3rd year.  The problem is there are so many quality centers you may have to wait until the late rounds to get a potential steal in John Tavares.

17. Niklas Backstrom C Washington Capitals Backstrom is a line 1 center, but he has not provided top notch numbers to make Ovechkin a Stanley Cup caliber winger.

18. Matt Duchene C Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene enters his 3rd year and he is due for a big year with Colorado if he stays healthy.

19. Vincent Lecavalier C Tampa Bay Lightning Lecavlier is another center who can make a major impact on the ice for the Lightning besides Steven Stamkos.

20. Mikko Koivu C Minnesota Wild With the acquisition of Devin Setoguchi Mikko Koivu may boost his numbers as a line 1 center for the Minnesota Wild.