On Wednesday, I broke my top 23 centres down into five tiers and below you will find the remaining top 50 centres into four more tiers.
Logan Couture (SJS), William Karlsson (VGK), Brayden Schenn (STL), Dylan Larkin (DET), Ryan Johansen (NSH), Sean Couturier (PHI), Eric Staal (MIN)
Couture has been a consistent producer throughout his career, but he set a career-high with 34 goals last year—his first 30-goal season since 2012. He shot at career-high 16.7 percent, so he’s likely not going to repeat it, but he’s shown to have 30-30 upside in previous years.
Karlsson was the breakout star of 2018, upping his career-best of nine goals to 43(!!!). Karlsson is the most obvious case of regression coming into 2019, but that does not mean he will not be a good fantasy asset. He should an absurd 23.4 percent last season on 184 shots. If that is cut in half, he’s still a 20-goal, 50-point player.
Schenn got off to an absolutely blistering start to his Blues’ career. He was a near point-per-game player through January 25th, ranking tied for 15th in the NHL in goals (21) and 17th in points (50) through 51 games. In his final 31 games, Schenn had just 20 points (7G / 13A) which was tied for 119th. Overall, 70 points (28G / 42A) in 82 games was by far his best season, but he may fall between that and his previous career-high (59).
Following two pretty good years, Larkin showcased how dominant he can be in 2018, picking up 63 points (16G / 47A) in 82 games. He’s been incredibly durable (missed just four games in three years) and last year will likely become his floor moving forward. With Henrik Zetterberg potentially out for the entire season, Larkin will be leaned on heavily to carry a bad Red Wings team.
Johansen has probably fallen short of who the Predators thought they were getting when giving up Seth Jones, but he’s still a serviceable fantasy centre with upside. Through his first two seasons with Nashville, Johansen is tied for 30th in the NHL in assists (86) and 58th in points (115). His lack of goalscoring holds him back, but he has scored 30-plus before and if ever starts shooting more, he has a lot of fantasy upside.
We all knew Couturier had a ton of untapped offence, but no one was expecting 76 points (31G / 45A) in 2018. The 25-year-old already has 498 career NHL games under his belt and was a two-time 96-point getter in the QMJHL. His 13.7 shooting percentage and 13.1 on-ice shooting percentage are certain to regress this year, but playing with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny will make him a 25-goal, 35-assist candidate with upside.
Staal was an absolute stud during his early years in Carolina, but fell off as the years went on. He has since resurrected his career in Minnesota, ranking 11th in the NHL in goals (70) and tied for 26th in points (141) over the last two years. Last year’s 17.4 shooting percentage will not hold up, but 241 shots at a career 11.2 percent works out to 27 goals and 30 assists—not bad, but do not draft him expecting too much more.
Jonathan Drouin (MTL), Nico Hischier (NJD), Pierre-Luc Dubois (CBJ)
Drouin had a pretty disappointing first season in Montreal, but during his last 90 games in Tampa Bay (’16 playoffs & ’17 season) he had 26 goals and 41 assists (67 points)—24-goal, 37-assist (61 points) per 82-game pace. That showcases exactly what he can be, if his 7.9 shooting percentage and 6.0 on-ice shooting percentage improve…like they should.
Hischier had a really nice rookie campaign and he projects to play with Taylor Hall again in 2019. Hall will likely regress a little, but Hischier will continue to improve with experience. He should have no trouble improving on last year’s totals—20 goals, 32 assists.
Dubois was just behind Hischier with 48 points (20G / 28A) in 82 games. He shredded the QMJHL en route to being the No.3 overall pick in 2016. Unlike Drouin and Hischier, he has excellent size (6-foot-3, 207 lbs) and should have no trouble keeping up with the other two in the points department. He’s expected to play big minutes atop the Blue Jackets lineup, which is loaded with skill players.
Nazem Kadri (TOR), Teuvo Teravainen (CAR), Matt Duchene (OTT), Elias Pettersson (VAN), Derek Stepan (ARI), Bo Horvat (VAN), Ryan O’Reilly (STL), Casey Mittelstadt (BUF), Joe Thornton (SJS)
Kadri has scored 32 goals in back-to-back seasons, but the addition of John Tavares could those totals. Kadri will likely play more of a shutdown, third-line role. However, he is still a 25-25 candidate.
Teravainen is capable of playing both centre and the wing and could be separated from Sebastian Aho this year—Teravainen played 66.8 percent of his 5v5 time with Aho last year. He will probably be asked to anchor the second line, but he’s perfectly capable. He had a 55.74 CorsiFor% and 54.58 ScoringChancesFor% away from Aho last year. Never been much of a goal scorer, but is great at setting up his linemates.
Duchene struggled mightily after being traded to Ottawa, picking up just five points in his first 21 games. However, he finished strong, scoring 21 goals and 23 assists (44 points) in his final 47 games of the year. People will remember his struggles, but he could be a steal on draft day.
Pettersson is set to break into the NHL this season after tearing up Sweden’s top-league as a 19-year-old. The 2017 No.5 overall pick had 56 points (24G / 32A) in 44 games while playing against men and could lead all rookies in points in 2019.
Whether he’s in New York or Arizona, Stepan has been extremely consistent. The Coyotes will be improved from the 2018 version in 2019 and Stepan should thrive. Either way, take him as the mid-50’s player he has been for five straight seasons and anything else is just gravy.
Injuries derailed what would have been a career-year for Horvat, who was on-pace for 28 goals and 28 assists (56 points). Horvat built a nice rapport with rookie Brock Boeser and the duo will be leaned on to carry the Canucks in 2019 with the Sedin Twins out of the picture.
O’Reilly moves to St. Louis, where his role is unclear, but he will likely settle in as a second-liner. He’s been between 55 and 64 points in each of the last five seasons…do not expect that to change in 2019.
Mittelstadt could be this year’s Clayton Keller or Mathew Barzal…just with better size. He’s a tremendously gifted puck-handler and playmaker and made a late splash with the Sabres last year, picking up five points (1G / 4A) in just six games. He figures to play a big role behind Jack Eichel and will challenge for the rookie scoring title.
Thornton typically falls down draft boards because he doesn’t score. However, he remains a premier playmaker, but missing half of last year with a knee injury is a concern.
Kyle Turris (NSH), Mika Zibanejad (NYR), Alex Galchenyuk (ARI), Nolan Patrick (PHI), Mikko Koivu (MIN), David Krejci (BOS), Paul Stastny (VGK), Bryan Little (WPG)
Turris was great after being acquired by the Predators, picking up 42 points (13G / 29A) in 65 games. There are no red flags to suggest that kind of production will not continue i his first full season with Nashville—a 16-goal, 37-assist (53 points) per 82 game pace.
Zibanejad set a career-high with 27 goals last season but missed 10 games due to injury. Zibanejad will serve as the Rangers’ No.1 centre and his +7.4 relative Corsi suggests that Zibanejad could continue to set career-highs in 2019.
Galchenyuk never really lived up to the expectations of a No.3 overall pick in Montreal and was traded to Arizona this summer. A poor shooting percentage last year held him to just 19 goals, but a rate closer to his career 12.4 percent, would see him return closer to 25-30 goals.
Patrick did not play much in the early part of the season and had just eight points (2G / 6A) in his first 35 games. However, in the second half he scored 11 goals with 11 assists (22 points) in his next 38 contests. Patrick should carry that momentum into his second season and could have a brand new linemate in James van Riemsdyk.
Advancing age and a slightly diminished role played a part in a down-year for Koivu in 2018. He also had just 48 points in 2015 and went on to post 56 and 58 in the next two seasons, so a return to 50 is not totally unlikely. He’s a solid playmaker on what should be a good offence and power-play—where he does a good amount of damage.
Boston’s top-line is the most dominant in the NHL, but Krejci anchors a pretty solid second unit as well. Krejci’s CF% has been above 54 in each of the last two seasons and he’s averaged 23 goals and 33 assists (56 points) per 82 games. He’s not the sexiest name in fantasy, but he is a consistent and reliable depth centre.
Stastny will slot in behind Karlsson after signing with Vegas this summer. He is coming off of his best season since 2014 and has been a consistent source of 15-plus goals and 35-plus assists over the years.
After playing 57 and 59 games in the two years previous, Little appeared in all 82 games last year…but had worse numbers. He played less, shot less and did not convert at his career-mark. Little should find himself back between Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers in 2019 and that makes him a huge sleeper target.
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