So this time of year is the calm before the storm in the sports world. Sure we’ve had preseason NFL and a few important college football games, but the preseason sucks in the NFL and I went to Cal State Fullerton – I don’t give a flying F about college football. But a month from now, oh man, it’ll be a sports orgy. The NHL season will begin, the NFL will be in full swing and baseball will be starting their playoffs. It’s the greatest month of the year and it isn’t close. If my life were wired with TIVO, I would just fast forward through the other 11 months and live exclusively in October… Now back to the matter at hand, here are some Centermen to target later in your fantasy hockey drafts:
21) Tomas Plekanec – C (Mon): This plucky little guy always seems to fly under the radar in drafts. He is capable of putting up 65-70 points over a full season and he gets alot of time on the power play, which always ups a player’s value in my book. But there is no upside over that, so don’t fall in love.
22) Matt Duchene – C (Col): He’s definately got the talent (3rd overall pick in 2009) and the opportunity (leader in Power Play minutes) to breakout this season, but I’m still skeptical. To put it kindly, his linemates are going to struggle. To put it harshly, his linemates WILL SUCK. It’s going to be some combination of David Jones, TJ Galiardi, Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller (if he can ever manage to stand up again without feeling nauseous.) Every guy I just named with the exception of Mueller (who may miss the entire season) bring nothing to the table, which is why I’m kinda down on the Doosh-ane.
23) Patrice Bergeron – C (Bos): You wanna know why the B’s won the Cup last year? Look no further (well actually look up and to the left a little). He stepped up his game in the playoffs with 20 points in 23 games to go along with a PLUS 15! And that’s against the better half of the NHL. The stereotype of a French-Canadian has a couple 70+ point seasons in the past, and I think he’ll do it again this year.
24) Vinny Lecavalier – C (Tam): “Va-Va-Va-Vinny and the ‘bolts!” Okay sorry that was lame. But you know what’s not lame? The 200 points he put up in just 2 seasons from ’06-’08. And despite the fact that he’s been in the league forever, he’s still just 31 years old. Granted he’ll never have another 90+ point season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if my cousin Vinny ends up as one of the biggest steals of the draft.
25) Logan Couture – C (SJ): Logan, will you be my Wolverine??? Weapon-X is going to have a big year and just like the Men’s Warehouse – I guarantee it.
26) David Krejci – C (Bos): I never realized how many dirty Czech’s there were in the NHL, but apparantly Slovak’s love them some hockey! My theory is the Czech Republic and Slovakia re-united many years ago so they could combine their hockey talent and at least be known for something in the cesspool that is Eastern Europe. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.
27) Mikko Koivu – C (Min): I have to admit Mikko is probably my favorite player when it comes to fantasy hockey. He goes late in drafts, he plays a ton of minutes, and he is the Quarterback of the Power Play. Plus he’s Finnish. I’ve owned him in just about every league the last 2 years because of this and he hasn’t disappointed. If healthy expect 20 Goals, 45+ Assists, 200+ Shots, and 25+ Power Play Points.
28) Jason Spezza – C (Ott): Once upon a time Spezza was a no doubt top 20 pick and the Spezza-Heatley-Alfredsson line was the most feared in the Eastern Conference. Now the Spezza line only incites fear in Senator fans. Best case scenario? Daniel Alfredsson discovers the fountain of youth and recently acquired Nikita Filatov lives up to expectations. It could happen, but I’d say the chances are the same as SportsCenter leading their broadcast on October 6th with an NHL regular season game.
29) Jordan Staal – C (Pit): I swear between Pittsburgh and Washington I don’t know which players I hate ranking more. They both have elite talent but they both have huge question marks heading into the season. Staal could end up on a line with Evgeni Malkin, or he could end up in the same role he’s always had – the 3rd line defensive stopper. I’ll keep updating this situation cuz if everything falls right, Staal is easily in the Top 25 for Centers.
30) Mikhail Grabovski – C (Tor): I gotta be honest I was shocked when I looked up his stats from last season. The German pervert was 1 lucky bounce away from 30 Goals and when you combine that with 15PPP’s, 239 Shots and a +14 I smell sleeper. Then again he plays for Toronto so unfortunately his “sleeper” tag doesn’t exist.
31) Brandon Dubinsky – C (NYR): Ranger fans seem to like him, but I don’t and the only reason I have him cracking the Top 30 Centers is because there is a shot in h-e-hockey sticks he ends up on the same line as Brad Richards and Marion Gaborik.
32) Paul Stastny – C (Col): Let’s face it, if this guys name was Paul Smith he wouldn’t be ranked here. But what can I say? I’m a sucker for good blood-lines.
33) Olli Jokinen – C (Cgy): Earlier I mentioned that Mikko Koivu is my favorite player in fantasy hockey. Well Jokinen is the opposite of that.
34) Mike Fisher – C (Nsh): Mr. Underwood is 1 of 2 Nashville forwards I would even consider drafting. And when I say “consider” I mean not a chance in hell…
35) Steve Ott – C (Dal): I’ve already written about Steve-O, but I’ll summarize for those of you to lazy to click: He’s a potential 2nd line forward who gets power-play minutes and loves to fight.
Honorable Mentions: Derick Brassard – C (CBJ), Tyler Seguin – C (Bos), Travis Zajac – C (NJ), Stephen Weiss – C (Fla), Alex Steen – C (StL), Tim Connolly – C (Tor), Andy McDonald – C/LW (StL), Kyle Turris – C (Phx), T.J. Oshie – C (StL), Peter Mueller – C/LW (Col), Brayden Schenn – C (Phi)