In the 20th episode of the Fantasy Hockey Hacks Podcast; Devon, Bruce, and John continue with a new series – How To Win Your Fantasy Hockey League! In the second episode of this series, we’re going to discuss fantasy-relevant centers for next season, including: bounce-back candidates, break-out candidates, which centers have been the most productive over the past three seasons (in terms of Fantasy Points Per Game), and much more! You won’t want to miss this episode, be sure to download and listen wherever you listen to your podcasts.
- John Cooper named head coach of men’s Canadian hockey team for 2022 Beijing Olympics
- Cart Hart, Igor Shesterkin, and Ilya Samsonov all sign new contracts
- Blackhawks legend, Tony Esposito, passes away at the age of 78
- Neal Pionk signs new contract with Winnipeg Jets
- Sam Reinhart signs three year deal with Florida
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Questions? Email us at FantasyHockeyHacks@Gmail.com
Hockey News | August 9 – 15
August 9 | John Cooper was named head coach for the men’s Canadian hockey team at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Hard to argue this selection as his team just won back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Beijing2022 coaching staff ✅
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) August 9, 2021
August 9 | Carter Hart signs a 3-year $11.937M ($3.979M AAV) contract to stay with the Philadelphia Flyers. According to Frank Seravalli, this contract is believed to be the highest AAV ever for a goaltender’s second contract (Matt Murray at $3.75M, Andrei Vasilevskiy at $3.5M).
OFFICIAL: Philly got Hart. https://t.co/1N2uUSGj8Q
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) August 9, 2021
August 9 | Igor Shesterkin signed a 4-year $22.66M ($5.65M AAV) contract with the New York Rangers. Financial terms were not disclosed.
That is the most money ever handed out – in AAV and total dollars – to an NHL goaltender on his second contract.
NYET SZN pic.twitter.com/wThmqJyDdK
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) August 9, 2021
August 9 | Ilya Samsonov signed a 1-year contract worth $2M. Prove-it bridge deal to see if Samsonov can be a number one goalie in the NHL.
Caps ink Samsonov to one-year, $2M deal.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 9, 2021
August 10 | Jakob Vrana and the Detroit Red Wings have agreed to a new 3-year $15.75M ($5.25M AAV) contract. Vrana figures to be a big part of the Red Wings plans moving forward after being traded for Anthony Mantha last season.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 10, 2021
August 10 | Tony Esposito passed away at the age of 78 (pancreatic cancer). Esposito was a 3-time Vezina Trophy winner, Stanley Cup Champion, and Hall of Famer. He played in 886 NHL Games, producing 423 wins, 76 SO, a 2.92 GAA, and a .906 SV%.
Legendary Blackhawks goalie Tony Esposito has passed away. He was 78. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0stAtHI9eh
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 10, 2021
August 11 | Neal Pionk and the Winnipeg Jets avoided arbitration with a 4-year $23.5M ($5.875M AAV) contract.
Hearing WIN & Neal Pionk avoid arbitration with four-year extension, just under $6M AAV.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 11, 2021
August 11 | Sam Reinhart and the Florida Panthers agree to a 3-year $19.5M ($6.5M AAV) contract.
Some news we think you’ll be VERY interested to read…
Sam Reinhart is officially a Florida Panther, signing a three-year contract!!
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) August 11, 2021
Win Your Fantasy Hockey League | Guide To Centers
We have ranked the centers by fantasy points per game (FPPG) over the past three seasons. ESPN’s standard scoring system was used to calculate fantasy point totals, but does include hits, PIM, and blocked shots. As a rough guideline, we have broken the players out into “tiers”.
Tier 0 | 4.5 FPPG+ – Franchise/Superstar Player
There are only a handful of centers (and overall players) available in tier “0”. Centers that fall in this tier include: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Steven Stamkos, and Sidney Crosby.
All of these players will be off the board by round 2 (10-team league), and it’s really a matter of evaluating your league settings when determining your pick. Below are our thoughts on a few of these players for next season.
📈 Connor McDavid, C, EDM | 2020 ADP: 2.1 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 5.66
- Connor McDavid is on another level. This past season McDavid put up a historic 105 points (33 goals, on pace for 154 points) in 56 games, along with 200 SOG, 37 PPP, 61 Hits, and 20 PIMs. Even better, McDavid’s shooting percentage (16.5%) was actually slightly below his 3-year average (16.6%)! The NHL’s best player also decided to shoot the puck more last season at 3.6 SOG/GM; which placed him 5th league wide. Only Matthews, MacKinnon, Ovechkin, Tkachuk, and Pastrnak shot the puck more frequently. Is 50 goals and 105 assists possible for McDavid next season?
📈 Leon Draisaitl, C, EDM | 2020 ADP: 3.2 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 5.24
- Second only to teammate Connor McDavid in terms of fantasy points per game (5.24) and actual points per game (1.43) over the past three seasons; Leon Draisaitl had another MVP type season in 2020-2021. With 84 points (31 goals) in 56 games, Neon Leon was on his way to a 123 point year. Draisaitl was excellent in the face-off dot with a 55.7 FO%, while also contributing 168 SOG, 32 PPP, 24 PIMs, 37 Hits, 12 Blks. Don’t be surprised to see another 50 goal, 100 point season from Leon again next season. Only Auston Matthews (125) has more goals than Leon Draisaitl (124) over the past three seasons!
📈 Nathan MacKinnon, C, COL | 2020 ADP: 3.2 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 5.07
- Nathan MacKinnon has been very consistent the past two seasons, on pace for 111 points in both years with a 1.35 points/GM. Having Landeskog back, and Rantanen on the right side should produce similar results again next year; not to mention having Makar on the point. MacKinnon was tied with Matthews last season with a shot rate of 4.3 SOG/GM (206 SOG in 48 GP); but his shot rate was actually down from the past two seasons (4.6 and 4.5), and so was his shooting % (9.7 last year vs. 10.8 3-year avg.). It’s possible that we see some regression and slightly improved numbers next year.
📈 Auston Matthews, C, TOR | 2020 ADP: 6.4 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 4.67
- Auston Matthews has led the league in goal-scoring the past three seasons with 125 goals. Last season Matthews set a career-high in points/GM at 1.27 (104 point pace over 82 games). There is no doubt that Matthews is an elite talent, and you shouldn’t hesitate to draft him in the first round. However, losing Hyman on his left wing will not help his production; and we could see some regression in shot rate where he put up 4.3 SOG/GM (3-year average is 4.0) and shooting % (18.5% last season versus 16.4% 3-year average).
Tier 1 | 3.50 to 4.5 FPPG – Elite Player
📈 Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR | 2020 ADP: 16.0 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 4.36
- Mika Zibanejad is the highest-rated center in terms of fantasy points per game the past three seasons. Zibanejad also has the highest number of hat tricks the last three years with 6; two ahead of superstars McDavid and Draisaitl. However, draft with some caution as New York’s off-season has not been the most beneficial. Losing Buchnevich could be a real concern for Zibanejad, and Lafrieniere and Kakko are question marks at the moment. Also, prior to 2019-2020, Zibanejad’s ADP was 99 (9th round selection). After a fantastic season that saw him put up 75 points (41 goals, 108 point pace over 82 games)in 2019-2020, his ADP sky-rocketed to an average of 16 in 2020-2021. His points/gm, SH%, and IPP were all inflated. Our prediction is that Zibanejad settles somewhere in the 75 point, 30-goal range. This is a difficult player to get value from on draft day, based on ADP.
📈 Jack Eichel, C, BUF | 2020 ADP: 17.0 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 4.25
- When will the Jack Eichel trade saga end? According to some sources, the situation could drag out into September or October. With that in mind, many will shy away from Eichel on draft day, and his ADP will fall significantly. However, if traded, and healthy; Eichel is absolutely an elite fantasy center. With a 4.25 FPPG over the past three seasons, Eichel ranks 9th overall among centers; a number that would be even higher if not for the train wreck that was last season. Additionally, Eichel’s shot rate ranks 4th (3.56 SOG/GM) among centers, behind only MacKinnon, Matthews, and Seguin; and his SH% sits at 11.2% compared to his career number of 10.5%. Eichel could return serious value next season, depending on his health and where he ultimately winds up. New York has been mentioned many times, and would do wonders for his production. Imagine Eichel playing with Panarin, Kakko, and Fox 5v5!
📈 Brayden Point, C, TB | 2020 ADP: 33.9 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.74
- Brayden Point is a fantastic player in his own right, but having Nikita Kucherov flank his RW all next season should really boost his fantasy production. Point’s 3-year average is 1.01 points/GM (36 goals, 47 assists), and with the talent around him I think a 40 goal, 90 point season is within reach; but the more likely scenario is that we see 35 goals and 80 points. Also, keep in mind that Point does not provide much additional category coverage, and has the lowest shot-rate (2.30 SOG/GM) of any center in Tier 1. All that said, Point plays a vital role on a very talented hockey club; don’t hesitate to grab him in the third round of most drafts.
📈 Tyler Seguin, C, DAL | 2020 ADP: 186.8 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.65
- Seguin essentially missed the entire 2020-2021 season, but managed to score 2 goals in 3 games played. As mentioned earlier, Seguin is a volume shooter, ranked 3rd among centers over the past three seasons with 3.81 SOG/GM. Seguin’s SH% the past three years (8.9%) has been below his career average of 10.8%, so it is possible that we see some positive regression. Having Radulov return next season as well, along with Jamie Benn on Seguin’s left wing should produce better results; and Seguin is a good bounce-back candidate in our books. However, it is troubling to see that Seguin has not produced at a point per game pace since 2015-2016 (close in 2018-2019 at 0.98 pts/GM), and he has not played a full 82 games since 2018-2019.
Tier 2 | 2.50 to 3.50 FPPG – Top 6 Player
📈 Jonathan Toews, C, CHI | 2020 ADP: 148.4 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.47
- Jonathan Toews is expected to be ready for training camp after missing all of 2020-2021 with “Chronic Immune Response Syndrome”. Toews is the top-ranked center in tier 2 with a 3.47 FPPG over the past three seasons. In terms of real production, he has a 0.93 points per game (141 points, 53 goals in 152 games), and a 56.8 FO%. Toews ranks top 10 for face-offs won over the past three years, so definitely keep him in mind if your league counts face-offs. The top 6 in Chicago is the strongest it has looked for some time; and Toews looks set to play with Kubalik (30-goal scorer) and Dylan Strome at 5v5, both productive players as well. Toews will also make up part of the first-unit PP; which could include Kane, Dach, DeBrincat, and Seth Jones! Note, Toews’ shot rates have been declining the past few seasons (2.5 SOG/GM in 2019-2020), and so has his SH% (10.5% in 2019-2020, 13.9% career). Toews is a gamer though, and if he is healthy, I’m betting on a bounce-back season – 25 goals, 45 assists.
📈 Sean Couturier, C, PHI | 2020 ADP: 64.8 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.43
- The second-ranked center in tier 2, Couturier has put up very consistent numbers over the past three seasons (0.95, 0.86, 0.91 points per game); and Philadelphia is an improved squad with some of the off-season acquisitions they have made. Couturier is excellent on face-offs with a 57.8 FO% the past three seasons, and sits 8th in even-strength goals among centers. Playing with Giroux, Konecny, Provorov, and Ellis at 5v5, expect another big season from Couturier – 30+ goals and 75 points.
📈 Ryan O’Reilly, C, STL | 2020 ADP: 76.0 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 3.29
- 6th in F0% over the past three seasons, O’Reilly is the straw that stirs the drink in St. Louis. Similar to Couturier, O’Reilly has been very good the past 3 seasons, putting up 0.96, 0.86, and 0.94 points per game. A note of caution, O’Reilly does not provide substantial category coverage; and his SH% was the highest of his career last season at 18.6% (career 11.3%). He was on pace for 35 goals last season, but we would expect we see totals closer to 25 goals and 75 points.
📈 Nick Suzuki, C, MTL | 2020 ADP: 187.8 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.64
- After a break-out performance during the 2020-2021 playoffs, Suzuki’s ADP is going to be inflated in drafts this Fall. The young center was on pace last season for 22 goals and 60 points. Playing alongside Tyler Toffoli and Cole Caufield should help to elevate those numbers a bit higher. Additionally, with Danault signing in LA, Suzuki is going to receive some additional ice time. Bold prediction – 25 goals and 65 points.
Tier 3 | 2.50 Points Or Less FPPG – Average/Replacement Level Player
📈 Yanni Gourde, C, SEA | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.33
- Yanni Gourde was an important part of back-to-back championships for the Lightning; but they were unable to protect him in expansion. Gourde put up a career-high 64 points in 2017-2018, and I would be willing to bet that he can get close to that level of production in Seattle. The only problem is that he is going to miss the first part of the season due to injury/surgery. Gourde was on pace last season for 25 goals and 53 points in a mostly third-line role for TB. Should Gourde receive first line duties with Schwartz and Eberle, along with PP1 time, I could easily see him matching his career-high totals. Gourde never exceeded 13 PPP or 1:52 on the power play in Tampa, but managed to put up the 5th most even-strength points (88) and 7th most total points (111) over the past 3 seasons. Bold prediction – on pace for 25 goals, 70 points.
📈 Phillip Danault, C, LAK | 2020 ADP: 213.2 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.26
- Phillip Danault is 7th in face-off wins over the past 3 seasons, not surprising given the praise he has received for his two-way play; but something to keep in mind for head-to-head category leagues. Danault is also 51st in even-strength points over the same time period, and provides some value in terms of hits and PIMs. However, for overall fantasy purposes Danault has shown limited upside with a 2.26 FPPG and 1.64 SOG/GM. My hope would be that his numbers get a boost from some of the young talent in LA. 3-year avg. – 12 goals, 50 points, 38 PIMs, 116 Hits, 834 FOW.
📈 Sam Bennett, C, FLA | 2020 ADP: N/A | 2018-2021 FPPG: 2.07
- We all know the turn-around in Sam Bennett’s season after arriving in Florida; and it should come as no surprise given that Florida ranked 1st in shot production (34.9 shots per game) and 6th in goal generation at 3.36 goals per game. Not to mention, Bennett was given the opportunity to play with Huberdeau (one of the top ranked LW) and Duclair at 5v5; a stark improvement from his linemates in Calgary. In a small sample size (15 games), Bennett produced 6 goals, 15 points, 33 PIMs, 39 SOG, 29 Hits, 18:04 ATOI, 3:38 PPTOI, 78.9 IPP%, 65.20 CF% (1st on FLA), and 90.91 GF% (1st on FLA).
📈 Jack Hughes, C, NJD | 2020 ADP: 183.1 | 2018-2021 FPPG: 1.85
- Jack Hughes made significant strides in 2020-2021, including an improved PTS/GM rate (0.55 vs. 0.34) and SOG/GM rate (2.5 vs. 2.0). Hughes also saw slightly more time on the PP, and his underlying analytics (all situations) were either team-leading or very close – 61.14 CF% (1st on NJD), 54.81 GF% (2nd), 57.98 xGF% (2nd), 61.88% Scoring Chances For (1st, SCF%), 59.74% High-Danger Scoring Chance For (1st, HDCF%). Additionally, Hughes is being somewhat sheltered as his OZ Start% has been above 60% each of the past two seasons. With the off-season moves that New Jersey made, Hughes definitely looks primed for a break-out season. Now for the bad news, Hughes has a low SH% (7.7% and 5.7% the last two seasons), doesn’t cover a lot of peripheral categories, and has a low FOW% at 35.4% last season. If Hughes can get his shooting % closer to average (maybe 10%), we could be looking at a 20+ goal, 55 point season. Given that he will likely play with Tatar, Sharangovich, Hamilton, and Graves at 5v5; we think this is well within reach.
2018-2021 Top 30 Goal Scorers (Centers)
- AUSTON MATTHEWS, 125 Goals
- LEON DRAISAITL, 124 Goals
- CONNOR MCDAVID, 108 Goals
- NATHAN MACKINNON, 96 Goals
- MIKA ZIBANEJAD, 95 Goals
- SEBASTIAN AHO, 92 Goals
- JOHN TAVARES, 92 Goals
- STEVEN STAMKOS, 91 Goals
- BRAYDEN POINT, 89 Goals
- MARK SCHEIFELE, 88 Goals
- PATRICE BERGERON, 86 Goals
- ALEKSANDER BARKOV, 81 Goals
- JOE PAVELSKI, 77 Goals
- SIDNEY CROSBY, 75 Goals
- ELIAS LINDHOLM, 75 Goals
- SEAN COUTURIER, 73 Goals
- TOMAS HERTL, 70 Goals
- BROCK NELSON, 69 Goals
- BO HORVAT, 68 Goals
- JACK EICHEL, 66 Goals
- RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS, 66 Goals
- SEAN MONAHAN, 66 Goals
- ELIAS PETTERSSON, 65 Goals
- JONATHAN MARCHESSAULT, 65 Goals
- RYAN O’REILLY, 64 Goals
- DYLAN LARKIN, 60 Goals
- LOGAN COUTURE, 60 Goals
- CLAUDE GIROUX, 59 Goals
- BRAYDEN SCHENN, 58 Goals
- FRANK VATRANO, 58 Goals
2018-2021 Top 30 Playmakers (Assists, Centers)
- CONNOR MCDAVID, 210 Assists
- LEON DRAISAITL, 175 Assists
- NATHAN MACKINNON, 161 Assists
- ALEKSANDER BARKOV, 135 Assists
- SIDNEY CROSBY, 134 Assists
- MARK SCHEIFELE, 132 Assists
- NICKLAS BACKSTROM, 132 Assists
- RYAN O’REILLY, 128 Assists
- CLAUDE GIROUX, 122 Assists
- EVGENI MALKIN, 120 Assists
- DAVID KREJCI, 119 Assists
- ANZE KOPITAR, 116 Assists
- BRAYDEN POINT, 115 Assists
- SEBASTIAN AHO, 114 Assists
- MATHEW BARZAL, 113 Assists
- JACK EICHEL, 112 Assists
- J.T. MILLER, 110 Assists
- STEVEN STAMKOS, 107 Assists
- JOHN TAVARES, 106 Assists
- MIKA ZIBANEJAD, 104 Assists
- ELIAS LINDHOLM, 104 Assists
- EVGENY KUZNETSOV, 104 Assists
- SEAN COUTURIER, 103 Assists
- RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS, 99 Assists
- PATRICE BERGERON, 97 Assists
- AUSTON MATTHEWS, 94 Assists
- PHILLIP DANAULT, 94 Assists
- SEAN MONAHAN, 92 Assists
- RYAN STROME, 92 Assists
- BRAYDEN SCHENN, 90 Assists
2018-2021 Face-off Specialists (Centers)
- CLAUDE GIROUX, 58.8 FO%
- PATRICE BERGERON, 58.7 FO%
- SEAN COUTURIER, 57.8 FO%
- JAYCE HAWRYLUK, 57.6 FO%
- LUKE GLENDENING, 57.4 FO%
- RYAN O’REILLY, 57.3 FO%
- JAY BEAGLE, 57.3 FO%
- BRANDON DUBINSKY, 57.1 FO%
- JASON SPEZZA, 56.9 FO%
- JONATHAN TOEWS, 56.8 FO%
- JORDAN STAAL, 56 FO%
- TYLER ENNIS, 56 FO%
- TYLER SEGUIN, 55.7 FO%
- ANZE KOPITAR, 55.7 FO%
- RYAN KESLER, 55.7 FO%
- MATT DUCHENE, 55.4 FO%
- PIERRE-EDOUARD BELLEMARE, 55.4 FO%
- TYLER BOZAK, 55 FO%
- TRAVIS ZAJAC, 55 FO%
- SIDNEY CROSBY, 54.9 FO%
- JOHN TAVARES, 54.9 FO%
- NAZEM KADRI, 54.9 FO%
- DEREK RYAN, 54.8 FO%
- PAUL STASTNY, 54.7 FO%
- BOONE JENNER, 54.7 FO%
- BO HORVAT, 54.6 FO%
- JEAN-GABRIEL PAGEAU, 54.6 FO%
- ADAM LOWRY, 54.6 FO%
- J.T. MILLER, 54.5 FO%
- PHILLIP DANAULT, 54.5 FO%
- STEVEN STAMKOS, 54.3 FO%
2018-2021 Power-Play Specialists (Centers)
- CONNOR MCDAVID, 113 PPP
- LEON DRAISAITL, 105 PPP
- NATHAN MACKINNON, 93 PPP
- STEVEN STAMKOS, 74 PPP
- ALEKSANDER BARKOV, 70 PPP
- RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS, 70 PPP
- SIDNEY CROSBY, 68 PPP
- NICKLAS BACKSTROM, 65 PPP
- MIKA ZIBANEJAD, 64 PPP
- ANZE KOPITAR, 63 PPP
- J.T. MILLER, 63 PPP
- BRAYDEN POINT, 63 PPP
- JACK EICHEL, 62 PPP
- ELIAS LINDHOLM, 61 PPP
- PATRICE BERGERON, 60 PPP
- MARK SCHEIFELE, 60 PPP
- SEBASTIAN AHO, 59 PPP
- EVGENI MALKIN, 59 PPP
- AUSTON MATTHEWS, 58 PPP
- CLAUDE GIROUX, 54 PPP
- JOE PAVELSKI, 53 PPP
- RYAN O’REILLY, 52 PPP
- JOHN TAVARES, 52 PPP
- ELIAS PETTERSSON, 51 PPP
- SEAN MONAHAN, 48 PPP
- DAVID KREJCI, 46 PPP
- BO HORVAT, 45 PPP
- EVGENY KUZNETSOV, 43 PPP
- TYLER SEGUIN, 42 PPP
- BRAYDEN SCHENN, 42 PPP
- Tyler Seguin, DAL
- Jonathan Toews, CHI
- Dylan Larkin, DET
- Nazem Kadri, COL
- Sean Monahan, CGY
- Yanni Gourde, SEA
- Jared McCann, SEA
- Anthony Cirelli, TB
- Phillip Danault, LAK
- Sam Bennett, FLA
- Charlie Coyle, BOS
- Trevor Zegras, ANA
- Jack Hughes, NJD
- Colin Blackwell, SEA
- Nolan Patrick, VGK
Complete Center Fantasy Hockey Rankings – Sortable Google Sheet
We have put together a spreadsheet that organizes all players by fantasy points per game over the past three seasons. You can download a copy of that spreadsheet here.