Crashing the Net: Need Help up the Middle?

Updated: December 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm by Bryce Crittenden

Welcome to this week’s edition of Crashing the Net. For this 12th week of the season we’re going to take a look at some of the top centermen that you might want to add to your roster. We hope you will be able to utilize this article in order to gain a competitive advantage over your opponents throughout the season. Feel free to add omissions and critique our current choices in comments section as we welcome an open discussion at

Artem Anisimov, Center, New York Rangers

Fantasy GM’s have quite a few options to choose from on the New York Rangers. It’s no surprise that players like Henrik Lunqvist and Marian Gaborik are having great season’s but one of the other Rangers that really stepped up their play has been Artem Anisimov. The 23 year old is having a breakout season with the blue shirts with 22 points in 32 games. Anisimov is currently on pace for a 55 point campaign; his previous career high was 44 points last season. Anisimov mostly sees second line minutes, he currently averages just over 15 minutes per game including 2 minutes on the Rangers power-play. His playing time has increased over the last month, so far in December he’s scored 10 points in 11 games during the month of December.

Shawn Matthias, Center, Florida Panthers

Were you one of the lucky one’s who actually drafted Stephen Weiss this year? Disappointed that he could be out for the next week or so? Why not pick up Shawn Matthias. Matthias has become a regular in the Panthers lineup this season after splitting the last few seasons between the NHL and the AHL and overcoming a broken ankle last season. As long as he stays healthy he’ll easily beat his previous career high of 16 points. Matthias currently has 13 points in 35 games this season and has 4 points in his last 5 games. With his improving play, he’ll be taking Stephen Weiss’ spot on the top line starting Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Matthias is currently owned in only 1% of all Yahoo! leagues. If you need a replacement for Weiss he’s an easy selection, if not keep your eye on him because he could surprise you.

Nazem Kadri, Center, Toronto Maple Leafs

If you’re a Leafs fan you’ve probably already picked up Nazem Kadri. For the rest of you looking to add some always needed depth Kadri might be the perfect pick up for you this week. Since being recalled by the Maple Leafs on December 21, Kadri has 2 points in both games he’s played in and has a plus 3 rating. Even before being recalled by the Leafs he scored 22 points in 22 games for the Marlies of the AHL. For those questioning Kadri’s abilities, Leafs coach Ron Wilson has put Kadri on the second line with Tim Connolly. The biggest thing to watch for with Kadri is his position listing. He’s currently listed as a Center on most fantasy hockey formats but he has been playing on the wing. If he can stay with the team over the next few weeks he could be eligible for multiple positions.

Kyle Turris, Center, Ottawa Senators

Sometimes players just need a change of scenery. Whether or not you agree with the way Turris handled his departure in Phoenix, you can’t help but be intrigued with his play so far in Ottawa. Turris currently has 3 points in his first 3 games with the Senators while playing on the team’s second line. Turris has been seen as a bit of bust so far after being selected third overall in the NHL Entry Draft by the Coyotes back in 2007. He showed promise with the Coyotes in the playoffs last spring after scoring 3 points in 4 games against the Red-Wings. If you’re not convinced on taking Turris yet you should definitely keep your eye on him. Turris is currently owned in only 4% of all Yahoo! leagues. If his scoring streak continues that percentage of owners will go through the roof.

Brooks Laich, Center, Washington Capitals

December has been a kind month to Brooks Laich. He’s scored 8 points in 10 games so far this month and has been a bright spot in a disappointing Capitals lineup. This season he’s scored 21 points in 33 games which is good for fourth in Caps scoring and is on pace for another 50 point season. If you’re looking for a dependable option up the middle Laich is a safe bet. He’s averaged 53 points over the last 3 seasons and he plays a major role in the Caps power play. Laich averages just over 3 minutes per game on the power play and averages over 19 minutes of playing time per game. The most surprising thing about Laich is that he’s only owned in 26% of all Yahoo! leagues. Laich is a perfect option in deep leagues and can play as either a Center or Left Wing.

Artem Anisimov, Brooks Laich, Center, Florida Panthers, Kyle Turris, Nazem Kadri, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Shawn Matthias, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Washington Capitals