Line Change on the Fly: Stammer Hanging by a Thread

Updated: December 10, 2011 at 11:01 am by Alexander Monaghan

‘Line Change on the Fly’ is the feature where we re-rank our current player rankings. This edition ranks centers and their counterparts for the first time since the preseason. Feel free to go nuts in the comments.

Good morning, fantasy hockey gamers. For the last couple of weeks we’ve heard clamoring over our current rankings. Well, chirp no longer as this list of centers will be shortly amended to reflect this season’s progression. Keep in mind that these rankings are a mix of actual game play and how their counting stats stack up as we try to find the perfect blend.

Instead of ranking players in numbers, we will be assigning arbitrary numbers to each forward. These numbers have nothing to do with auction drafts, they are simply to note comparative value. Knowledgeable debate is more than encouraged; you may even be able to sway my vote in the future.

$36 Steven Stamkos
$35 Claude Giroux
$35 Jonathan Toews
$35 Evgeni Malkin
$35 Sidney Crosby
$34 Patrick Sharp
$34 Patrick Kane
$33 Henrik Sedin

If you add less-than-standard counting stats into the equation, then Claude Giroux is a hair more valuable than Steven Stamkos. Lest we not forget that Giroux is a far more complete player with much less competition down the middle and far better teammates. Jonathan Toews continues to amaze me. Back in September, someone took him with the first overall pick — a pick I scoffed at. The value really isn’t too far off. Malkin and Crosby have shown their flashes but until they play 20 straight games together they won’t be number one and two. Blackhawks Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane round out the top tier with assist machine Henrik Sedin. If you’ve forgotten how we feel about Sedin, here is a refresher.

$32 Nicklas Backstrom
$31 Pavel Datsyuk
$30 Anze Kopitar
$29 Tyler Seguin
$29 Henrik Zetterberg
$29 Jamie Benn
$28 Ryan Kesler
$27 Patrick Marleau
$25 Ryan Getzlaf
$25 Joe Pavelski
$24 Stephen Weiss
$24 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Backstrom just misses the cut due to his plummeting plus/minus and questions regarding his actual line. If tied to Alex Ovechkin he becomes a 80-100 point player. Without him, he’s a 70 point player, which is quite run of the mill when it comes to pivots. Datsyuk, like many of his counterparts, is much more valuable on the wing but remains elite nonetheless. Kopitar and Seguin have cooled off from their hot starts but have too much talent to be taken any lower. Zetterberg continues to put the puck on net but hasn’t gotten too many good bounces; that will change. The Dallas Stars are still winning, mainly thanks to Jamie Benn. Ryan Kesler will continue to climb the ladder as he gets back to full health. Meanwhile, Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Marleau are given the benefit of the doubt due to their past track record. Have to love taking Joe Pavelski in the sixth round; great value as a top line winger who qualifies at center. Rounding out the second tier are bargains Stephen Weiss and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — both of which can be found on many first place teams. Making those kind of value picks is what wins championships.

$23 Mike Richards
$23 Jeff Skinner
$22 Brad Richards
$20 John Tavares
$20 Daniel Briere
$20 Jason Spezza
$19 Mikko Koivu
$19 Tomas Plekanec
$19 Vincent Lecavalier

Mike Richards surely would be higher on this list if healthy. The Los Angeles Kings will continue to struggle scoring goals without him. Jeff Skinner has proven himself as a goal scoring machine and is probably the only solid fantasy hockey player on the Carolina Hurricanes. In his first year on Broadway, Brad Richards has been adequate. Keep in mind he’s playing on the second line, which is not going to get him to 80-90 points. John Tavares has improved almost all of his counting stats except for goals. If he goes on a late scoring binge, he could eclipse the elusive 30-goal mark. Daniel Briere is one of the best second line centers and a perfectly ranked player — if you paid for him on draft day, you got exactly what you paid for. Plekanec, Spezza and Koivu are very similar as playmakers on middle-of-the-pack offenses. We ranked them based on upside. Lecavalier rounds out the third tier, proving just how deep the center position can be.

$17 David Backes
$17 Joe Thornton
$17 Logan Couture
$16 Eric Staal
$16 Jeff Carter
$14 Matt Duchene
$13 Valtteri Filppula
$13 Brad Marchand
$12 Craig Smith
$12 David Krejci
$11 Mikhail Grabovski

Captain David ‘Inglorious’ Backes is having a typical season with strong points totals and 80+ PIM. He will be ranked higher at the wing as his 60-point upside is nothing to sneeze at. Jumbo Joe Thornton has been having his worst season in a long time, mainly due to his lack of power play points and goal totals. His teammate Logan Couture could pot 30 goals again but sits this low due to the competition for offensive minutes on the Sharks. Underachievers Staal, Duchene and Carter get some love on the list due to their prominence and not due to their play. I was able to acquire Staal in a recent trade for the unranked Patrik Elias, which should be telling. Valtteri Filppula, Craig Smith and Brad Marchand have been nice value picks. Always good to roster forwards that you can admire in real life. If you haven’t seen any of them play, I highly recommend it. Streaky Euros David Krejci and Mikhail Grabovski fill out our top 40 but they could be interchanged with a number of other talented pivots.

DROPABLES: Tyler Ennis, Brandon Dubinsky, Brad Boyes, Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie, Derick Brassard

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