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How important is an elite #1 Center Really?

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  • How important is an elite #1 Center Really?

    So I was planning on waiting until the doldrums of the summer to bring this topic up to keep some discussion going, but the draft lottery has already made this discussion slightly less relevant. So might as well bring it up now.

    I've seen some discussion mainly in hockeybuzz comment threads on meltzer articles, and it seems that lots of people are gravely concerned that this team is screwed if Giroux's 58 point season is the new normal for him, regardless of what happens with the D in the next few years. There is a mindset among some that without a top line center to carry a line and put up great numbers that a team is doomed to fail.

    I'd like to hear some thoughts on the topic from the crew around here, and offer my own thoughts.

    I'm certainly concerned about Giroux, but I think that this team still has the potential to be very successful if he can keep putting up 60ish point seasons for awhile...Lets look around the league...

    Two of NYR, Ottawa, Nashville and St. Louis will make the Conference Finals this year. Let's take a look at some center stats.

    NSH - Ryan Johansen 61 points
    NSH - Fisher 42 points
    NSH - Jarnkrok 31 points

    STL - Stastny 40 points
    STL - Berglund 34 points
    STL - Fabri 29 points

    OTT - Turris 55 points
    OTT- Brassard 39 points
    OTT- Pageau 33 points

    NYR - Stepan 55 points
    NYR - Hayes 49 points
    NYR - Zibanejad 37 points


    So we've got 1 Center of those 4 teams with more points than Giroux, and this was Giroux's worst year in 7 seasons. AND that same 1 center is the only one that even has more points than Schenn did this year.

    I think it is VERY possible for teams to have success building from the back out, and a dominant center is not a pre-req. There is still plenty to be proven with the D prospects, as the only ones even playing in the NHL right now are Provorov and Ghost. But if Provorov can be an all around workhorse that it looks like he can be, and Ghost and Sanheim can eventually be driving a lot of offense from the back end, I think this team can do some great things in the future. The fact that now they are going to be able to draft a center with potential to be a future 1st line center just makes me even more excited.
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  • #2
    i am sure it helps

    honestly now it seems aside from having a + defensive group..you need skill and speed up and down the line up

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    • #3
      Could spawn a whole debate about the word 'elite' again, but this is only the second round anyway and most teams want to go further than that, so comparing the teams even that make it past this round doesn't mean much. Look at the Cup-winning teams over the last 10 to 20 years and see how many of those teams didn't have a great center, who either made those around him better, or was a leader who played both ways in all situations. You won't find many teams w/out one.

      I'd take Johansen from your list ahead of Giroux and make better use of that cap money.
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      • #4
        Most teams going deep have at least a very good #1 center. The lack of one can be made up with depth to some extent or having a elite offensive winger, but it's much better to have one.
        "Oh, We got five. Ohhhhh."

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        • #5
          and none of those teams have cups in the past 20 years? not sure what those examples indicate except that you can lose in the playoffs with a mediocre 1C.

          I'm not a believer in 'you have to have X' statements about building a contender, cups have been won a lot of different ways. however, 1C is such a influential position, it gets you a lot farther towards the cup if you have a dominant one.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by zjgm02 View Post
            I'd take Johansen from your list ahead of Giroux and make better use of that cap money.
            Johnasen is finishing up a 3 year deal in which he makes $4 million a year, but keep in mind he held out of training camp the year he signed that deal, and he was reportedly demanding $10 million a year at the time. And at that time, he had played 189 games and scored 96 points.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by clumsysnake View Post
              and none of those teams have cups in the past 20 years? not sure what those examples indicate except that you can lose in the playoffs with a mediocre 1C.

              I'm not a believer in 'you have to have X' statements about building a contender, cups have been won a lot of different ways. however, 1C is such a influential position, it gets you a lot farther towards the cup if you have a dominant one.
              Well looking at a long timeline like 20 years wasn't the point of my examples, since rosters for any team are drastically different if you look at them even 5 years apart. I'm looking specifically at this year, at current rosters...50% of the teams in the conference finals will have those very average 1Cs. Last 4 remaining of 30 teams in the league ain't too shabby. Plus there is the still the chance of any one of those 4 teams winning the cup, or even both cup finalists being from that group of teams I posted.

              I guess another way to phrase my point is that prior to hitting on the lottery, the forward pipeline is looking pretty dire for potential top end talent. Lindblom could be a very good wing, Rubstov isn't expected to carry a first line...But I think I still prefer our crop of D prospects with massive potential over the other way around, having a lot of forward potential but a defense with no help on the horizon. Combine our D prospects with the potential for Hart, Sandstrom, Lyon, or Stolarz to be a legit NHL starter in the future, and I really wasn't too worried about the future of this team.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by PinkFloydFreak87 View Post

                Well looking at a long timeline like 20 years wasn't the point of my examples, since rosters for any team are drastically different if you look at them even 5 years apart. I'm looking specifically at this year, at current rosters...50% of the teams in the conference finals will have those very average 1Cs. Last 4 remaining of 30 teams in the league ain't too shabby. Plus there is the still the chance of any one of those 4 teams winning the cup, or even both cup finalists being from that group of teams I posted.

                I guess another way to phrase my point is that prior to hitting on the lottery, the forward pipeline is looking pretty dire for potential top end talent. Lindblom could be a very good wing, Rubstov isn't expected to carry a first line...But I think I still prefer our crop of D prospects with massive potential over the other way around, having a lot of forward potential but a defense with no help on the horizon. Combine our D prospects with the potential for Hart, Sandstrom, Lyon, or Stolarz to be a legit NHL starter in the future, and I really wasn't too worried about the future of this team.
                rite i guess my point is, if you're trying to judge the importance of a position look at the cup winners, not the cup losers. just being in the playoffs is not where i want to aim.

                what i like about how hexy has built our strong backend pipeline is how the timing of our roster will work. D tend to be impact players later and their peaks are wider and later. Whereas forwards peak earlier. If you want their peaks to align you need to draft defenseman first.

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                • #9
                  I think a solid #1 Center gets you to the playoffs, but it seems to me over the years that when playoff time rolls around, it's those unsung 3rd and 4th line players that shine in the playoffs. Not sure why, but those character guys seem to make a big difference. Players in the last few years that come to mind are Boyle, Winnik, Ward, those grinder kind of guys.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by alxhj View Post
                    I think a solid #1 Center gets you to the playoffs, but it seems to me over the years that when playoff time rolls around, it's those unsung 3rd and 4th line players that shine in the playoffs. Not sure why, but those character guys seem to make a big difference. Players in the last few years that come to mind are Boyle, Winnik, Ward, those grinder kind of guys.
                    ... Justin Williams just keeps getting it done as well. He isn't exactly a top 6 forward in the league anymore.

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