SUN Hockey Pool

NHL fantasy preview: Centres

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning competes for fastest skater during the Honda NHL...

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning competes for fastest skater during the Honda NHL SuperSkills competition part of 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend at the RBC Center on January 29, 2011 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP)

JOEL COLOMBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

TORONTO - The centre position has been traditionally the deepest for fantasy purposes, at least in terms of point production. Of the 50 players who compiled 60 or more points last season (and we’re including Pavel Datsyuk, who totalled 49 but missed more than two dozen games) 23 of them were centres. Of note, only Steven Stamkos and Henrik Sedin were among the top nine point-getters last season so it might be prudent to grab a top winger with your first pick as there should be plenty of second-tier centres available in the second and third rounds. And while most fantasy-goers focus on top-six forwards, there is also late-round value and/or upside to be found in the third-line centres such as the Penguins’ Jordan Staal, Derek Stepan on the Rangers, Capitals’ Brooks Laich, Dave Bolland of the Blackhawks or maybe even Josh Bailey of the Islanders.

(Projections for the 2011/2012)

G A PTS

Steven Stamkos, TB, 50, 49, 99

Low plus-minus keeps him out of No. 1 overall slot.

Henrik Sedin, VAN, 21, 72, 93

Once again projected as the NHL’s assists leader.

Sidney Crosby, PIT, 38, 52, 90

His concussion was a fantasy killer for whoever owned him.

Pavel Datsyuk, DET, 30, 56, 86

May drop draft day after injury-shortened 59-point season.

Evgeni Malkin, PIT, 34, 52, 86

Has to regain nasty edge to recover lost penalty minutes.

Ryan Getzlaf, ANA, 22, 63, 85

Feisty style has cost him 31 games the past two years.

Nicklas Backstrom, WAS, 24, 60, 84

Dropped from 101 points to 65 last year.

Anze Kopitar, LA, 30, 51, 81

Power-play production was strangely lacking last year.

Brad Richards, NYG, 25, 55, 80

Most figure he’ll shine on Broadway alongside Gaborik.

John Tavares ISL 36 44 80 t -

Likely still a year away from the elite group above him.

Joe Thornton, SJ, 21, 57, 78,

Paid more attention to his defence last year and it showed.

Jonathan Toews, CHI, 32, 43, 77

One of best faceoff men in the game. Could top 90 points.

Claude Giroux, PHI, 25, 51, 76

Takes over top-line centre role with Richards, Carter gone.

Eric Staal, CAR, 35, 39, 74

Led the NHL last season in faceoffs, 98 more than Toews.

Matt Duchene, COL, 30, 43, 73

Has to improve that plus-minus to take next step.

Vincent Lecavalier, TB, 30, 42, 72

The last time he was this healthy, he racked up 100 points.

David Krejci, BOS, 21, 50, 71

Elite playmaker showed in Cup run that he can also score.

Mikko Koivu, MIN, 19, 51, 70

This Finn isn’t all that flashy, but is quietly consistent.

Derek Roy, BUF, 24, 46, 70

Among NHL’s top scorers when he tore ACL in December.

Jeff Carter, CLB, 36, 34, 70

Nash the best winger he’s had. Takes a ton of shots.

David Backes, STL, 27, 33, 60

One of the best all-around fantasy bargains available.

Ryan Kesler, VAN, 26, 30, 56

Hip surgery will keep him out until likely November.

JUST THE POINTS

Jason Spezza, OTT (69)*

Paul Stastny, COL (67)*

Mike Ribeiro, DAL (66)*

Tomas Plekanec, MON (63)

Jeff Skinner, CAR (62)

Stephen Weiss, FLA (56)*

Mikhail Grabovski, TOR (55)

Travis Zajac, NJ (53)

Patrik Berglund, STL (52)

Scott Gomez, MON (51)

Antoine Vermette, CLB (50)

* — Minus-rating advisory

NEED PLUS-MINUS?

(Points in parentheses)

Patrice Bergeron, BOS (63)

Patrik Elias, NJ (62)

Logan Couture, SJ (60)

Jordan Staal, PIT (59)

Brooks Laich, WAS (53)

NEED PENALTY MINUTES?

Daniel Briere, PHI (66)

Mike Richards, LA (64)

Brandon Dubinsky, NYR (55)

Brooks Laich, WAS (50)

Martin Hanzal, PHX (43)

END GAME SLEEPERS

Kyle Okposo, NYI

Mike Fisher, NSH

Matthew Lombardi, TOR

Bobby Butler, OTT

Brayden Schenn, PHIL

Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA

Ryan Johansen, CLB


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