Over the course of the season it becomes ordinary to see a big name miss a few weeks. Chris Pronger out for a few weeks, Marian Hossa day-to-day with some sort of lower body injury, Pascal Leclaire hurt in practice, etc. However, it seems that top line centers are getting hurt at an alarming rate.
As of this writing six– Ryan Getzlaf, Derek Roy, Pavel Datsyuk, Cal O’Reilly, Shawn Horcoff and Jason Spezza– all watch their teams from the press box on some sort of road to recovery which is simply odd. Furthermore, there is a correlation between health and success as five of the six top teams in the League have had their top centers healthy all year, with Datsyuk the exception. When considering that Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Fippula probably are better than 90 percent of the League’s top two centers the correlation goes even further.
Center, as a position, seems to be weaker than in year’s past. In a four year keeper I actually struggled to find a fourth center on the waiver wire, needing to opt for Matt Stajan before settling on Antoine Vermette. Never once over the last four years did I struggle to find a center, acquiring Matt Duchene and Nicklas Backstrom both off the scrap heap during their rookie season. Is the youth gravitating away from developing centers or are we simply at a lull in their development?
I understand my keeper competition could have gotten wiser over the years, but it seems somewhat alarming that there are less than 50 rosterable centers league-wide.
Getting back on subject, it looks like Getzlaf gets replaced by Ryan, Datsyuk filled in for by Zetterberg and Roy by the often-injured Tim Connolly. The new top line centers should add a lucky bounce to your team if you chose to actually roster these guys.
Nevertheless, this trend started in training camp with Marc Savard and continued throughout the season with Jonathan Toews, Paul Stastny, Stephen Weiss and TJ Oshie while also striking 1A centers like Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Little and Vincent Lecavalier.
Going into next season, will centers no longer be waited on? In years past I used to be upset when forced to take a Datsyuk or Eric Staal with a guy like Corey Perry or Alexander Semin already off the board. Do we now jump right on those centers?
If there is anything we can take away from this rant is to take the best player available and hope for the best. Works in drafting in real life and like advanced statistics attempt to do, fantasy will start steering slightly towards reality.