Official Top-20 Center Rankings

  1. zeke
    And by official, I mean mine, of course.

    So after all the fighting on the other threads, i tried to crank out a stats-based Center ranking, but nothing too fancy. At the same time it's both complicated and simple.


    Here's how I approached it.

    I looked at the last 2 seasons. This imo is the best combo of "recent" and "good sample size" to judge a player's current value. But it's not perfect, of course, especially when it comes to very young or old players. But it's a good place to start. Second, I put an absolute cutoff at a minimum of 14 ES minutes played per game.

    So firstly, I used "Offense" as my most basic criteria for the list of "top centers". i.e. to be a top center, you have to score like one, and if you can't score, you're not a top center no matter how good you are defensively. To judge offense, I used the even strength p/60 and p1/60 stats - basically I ranked the top-30 centers in p/60, and the top-30 centers in p1/60, and then combined the ranks. I know some people might complain about ignoring PP production, but imo PP production is way too noisy and small sample and any offensive ability the players have should show up at even strength anyways. But that wasn't enough - I wanted to adjust this offense for quality of competition as well - so that guys with easier matchups didn't get extra credit. I used opponents' ice time (TOIqoc) to judge quality of competition, and combined it with the scoring ranks. Note that this used their league-wide TOIqoc ranks, of all centers who played minimum 14es mpg. Here's the list of Top Offensive Centers I came up with:

    Top Offensive Centers Last 2yrs

    1.McDavid 7
    2.MacKinnon 22
    3.Scheifele 25
    4.Crosby 27
    5.Matthews 31
    6.Barkov 33
    7.Malkin 34
    8.Stamkos 37
    9.Tavares 40
    10.Getzlaf 41
    11.Backstrom 46
    11.Couturier 46
    13.Kopitar 48
    13.Barzal 48
    15.Toews 49
    15.Monahan 49
    17.Kuznetsov 52
    18.Seguin 54
    19.Kadri 56
    20.Staal 58
    21.Bergeron 60
    22.Eichel 60
    23.Point 68
    24.Duchene 72
    25.Stastny 72
    26.Zetterberg 73
    27.Krejci 89
    28.Horvat 92

    Some surprises on this list when QOC is factored in - namely, that a guy like Toews is still quite good offensively, while guys like Malkin and Kuz really get hammered for going up against much easier competition than most of the others.

    Secondly, I wanted to factor in Possession. This was a bit more complicated, but basically I averaged out zone/score adjusted CF% and xGF% and ranked them, and then averaged out zone/score adjusted CFrel and xGFrel and ranked them......and then combined their ranks. Now key here is that I kind of cheated - because I was using OFFENSE as the main determinant of "top center", I didn't look at league-wide possession, but I only looked at the 28 centers who made the Offense list and ranked their possession against each other. I think the basic principal makes sense, though of course my execution of it is pretty hacktastic. And then, again, I needed to adjust for Quality of Competition, so once again I combined the averaged possession ranks with the TOIqoc ranks, and ranked these 28 centers' possession against each other:

    Last 2yrs best offensive centers in order of Possession:

    1.Bergeron 10
    2.McDavid 12
    3.Crosby 18
    4.Couturier 21
    5.Kopitar 28
    6.Toews 29
    7.Barkov 30
    8.Scheifele 32
    9.Tavares 39
    10.Backstrom 39
    11.MacKinnon 41
    12.Getzlaf 44
    13.Stastny 49
    14.Staal 51
    15.Kadri 54
    16.Stamkos 55
    17.Matthews 57
    18.Point 59
    19.Zetterberg 60
    20.Seguin 61
    21.Barzal 61
    22.Malkin 70
    23.Monahan 71
    24.Duchene 72
    25.Eichel 74
    26.Kuznetsov 82
    27.Krejci 83
    28.Horvat 87

    this seems to pass the smell test to me. all the guys with the great defensive reputations are right at the top, while the guys at the bottom are the guys you expect.

    So now with these two lists, I just combined the qoc-adjusted offense and the qoc-adjusted possession, and it spat out this list:


    1.McDavid 19
    2.Crosby 45
    3.Scheifele 57
    4.Barkov 63
    5.MacKinnon 63
    6.Couturier 67
    7.Bergeron 70
    8.Kopitar 76
    9.Toews 78
    10.Tavares 79
    11.Getzlaf 85
    12.Backstrom 85
    13.Matthews 88
    14.Stamkos 92
    15.Malkin 104
    16.Staal 109
    17.Barzal 109
    18.Kadri 110
    19.Seguin 115
    20.Monahan 120

    Some guys stick out in surprising ways here - Couturier comes out looking really, really good, while a guy like Malkin drops way down. Guys like Kuznetsov and Eichel don't even make the list at all. Thing is, I don't have any problem with any of those results. In the end, I love how the list rewards guys like Barkov and Bergeron while also acknowledging the question marks on guys like Malkin and Barzal.

    Note, though, that this isn't a prediction of which centers are necessarily the best RIGHT NOW, heading into THIS SEASON. To do that I would want to add in some kind of Age adjustment, which would favor which would bump up kids like Eichel, Barzal, Matthews while knocking down guys like Backstrom and Staal a bit.

    So what do you think? does my list beat the NHL's? or the famous Hockey Guy's?

    or is it poop?

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