Top Five Centers Entering Stanley Cup Playoffs

by Pub Sports Radio

Top 5 Centers Entering NHL Postseason

By: Joe Borek (@jjborek26)

1. Connor McDavid

This is definitely a close call between McDavid and his fellow Oilers teammate Leon Draisaitl. However, McDavid gets the nod at number one because he has been at it longer at the utmost level of his game, where Draisaitl has just recently the past year and a half or so really taken off. What really can you say wrong about McDavid’s game, except sometimes he could look better on defense. Even on the defensive end though, McDavid has looked his best under coach Dave Tippet. Furthermore, with how good McDavid’s game is offensively as a two-time Art Ross and Ted Lindsey award winner he only has to be average on defense to get the top center spot on the list. McDavid of course also has the 2016-17 Hart trophy to his name which he captured at the ripe age of 20 collecting 100 points on the dot. This past season in 64 games he had 34G and 63A for 97PTS. Below McDavid can be seen torturing opponent’s defenses as he makes them look silly in his goal highlights from this season.

2. Leon Draisaitl

Well this just doesn’t seem fair does it? The Oilers have the top two centers going into the postseason just like for years the Penguins did in Crosby and Malkin. Both who are still very good and the only thing that ever slows down Crosby and Malkin, is injuries otherwise their still the second best center duo in the league. Maybe we will get into them later who knows, for now, let’s examine just how impressive Draisaitl has become especially, under head coach Dave Tippett. Just like McDavid, Draisaitl’s two-way game improved immensely under Tippett even more so than his teammate McDavid. As we know, this kid is also a force on the offensive end, becoming the first German born player to win the Art Ross Trophy this past season amassing 110 total points in just 71 games with 43G and 67A. Below Draisaitl can be seen creating mass hysteria for his opponents. He my hockey friends, is your favorite to win the Hart Trophy with McDavid placing top 5 as well.

3. Auston Matthews

Fellow host cities own Auston Matthews places third on our list. Matthews is a player who like McDavid (not to the same degree) immediately hit the ground running in his first full season too,winning the 2016-17 Calder Trophy by accumulating 69 points with 40 goals and 29 assists. Matthews has progressed nicely each season to now reach the 80-point mark, for the first time in his career in his fourth season. This player is developing into a jack of all trades esk guy. He sure as heck can do it with the best of them while on attack but Matthews too can play at least solid defense in his own end. He is the player to watch heading into this postseason for sure as he has not even hit his peak yet at only 22 years of age. Yes, that’s right folks there is still more room to grow in Matthews already great game. Below Matthew’s can be seen showing off his skills in a highlight reel from this past season

4. Patrice Bergeron

This guy is probably the most complete player on our list. He has had over 30 goals multiple times in his career plus over 50 and then 60 Assists as well more than a few times. However, while doing all that good on offense, Bergeron is by far our best on this list defensively. He is a true jack of all trades. He plays a physical game, can score, pass (make all around him better), and of course also shut down one of the other team’s top attackers while doing so. Bergeron has 103 playoff points in 136 career games with a whopping plus minus of 42. This season, Bergeron had 56 points in 61 games marking another very productive year for the savvy vet. Below Bergeron can be seen causing fits for the opposing team.

5. Ryan O’Reilly

Another defensive and faceoff wizard just like Bergeron. O’Reilly is of course one year removed from winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in the Blues run to the cup last season. He had a ridiculous 23 points in 26 playoff games as a major contributor to the Blues capturing their Stanley Cup. Overall this guy has just gotten better over time and remarkably better at defense somehow as well. He is a freak of nature on the defensive end just like Flyers Couturier and the Bruins Patrice Bergeron. Also just like those two he is very skilled in the offensive end while being stout in the defensive end, effectively making him a sure shot top 5 center. On the year O’Reilly had 61 points in 71 games and played well on the defensive end yet again securing him in the top 5 voting for the Selke or at least it should. Down below O’Reilly can be seen showcasing his electric skills.

Honorable Mentions

Sidney Crosby

I know right its odd that’s Crosby is not in the top five, but its not like he’s far behind. The reason he’s out of the top five is to no fault of his own. He only played 41 games this past season and then struggled in his own end when coming back from injury. Offensively he was still the same Sid producing 47PTS in 41GP, so there is a good chance he can just hit it in the playoffs. However, in the playoffs it would be mighty helpful if Crosby is able to reestablish himself as at least a league average defender while producing his stellar offense. The struggles on defense and the fact that all the players above were available more and played swimmingly ranks them all just ahead Sid the Kid. Highlights of Crosby can be seen below, as he dumbfounds opponents.

Sean Couturier

Couturier is really starting to push to make an argument to put him in the top five. Particularly, from this past season as he is one of the favorites to win the Selke. If the Flyers go deep into the postseason this year and Couturier continues to impress, then he is definitely going to be a top five center heading into next season. Highlights of Couturier Aka Coots can be seen below as he bewilders opponents.

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