Fantasy Hockey: Top-20 Centers

In most fantasy hockey leagues that require a certain amount of players per position, it is fairly difficult to win without strength at the center position. In fact, teams that enjoy a lot of success in the NHL these days usually have a franchise center to build around. Sometimes two. Of the top-20 scorers in the NHL last season, nine played predominantly at center. There could have been even more centers at the top of the scoring list if it wasn't for injuries. These days, a lot of coaches are asking centers to play deeper in their own zone. That hurts their fantasy value. However, the center remains the top playmaker on most NHL teams, so offense is usually generated down the middle of the ice. Here are the 20 best bets at center for fantasy hockey drafts this year:

1. Connor McDavid, Oilers

He is widely considered to be the best player in the NHL now, and already has a scoring title at 20 years of age!

2. Sidney Crosby, Penguins

If McDavid is not the best player in the league, then the honor remains with 'Sid the Kid' (now a man at age 30).

3. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Sidney Crosby's running mate is always among the league leaders in points per game. He has to stay healthy.

4. John Tavares, Islanders

Will he stay or will he go? The Islanders' franchise center enters the final season of his contract highly motivated.

5. Leon Draisaitl (C/RW), Oilers

The talented German playmaker is to Connor McDavid what Evgeni Malkin is to Sidney Crosby with Pittsburgh.

6. Steven Stamkos (C/RW), Lightning

The Lightning captain should be healthy again, so do not be surprised if he scores the most goals from this list.

7. Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

Sophomore Matthews should follow up his Calder trophy campaign with more production across the board.

8. Jack Eichel, Sabres

The Sabres' franchise center enters his third NHL campaign ready to challenge the point-per-game threshold.

9. Mark Scheifele, Jets

He surprised many last season by placing seventh in NHL scoring. Everybody now knows Scheifele is good.

10. Tyler Seguin (C/RW), Stars

One of the keys to Seguin's success is a high shots-on-goal volume (he placed 4th in the NHL in SOG in '16-17).

11. Aleksander Barkov, Panthers

If only he could just stay healthy! The big, two-way Finn has everything to become an elite player if he avoids injury.

12. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

The Capitals lost some talent up front in the off-season, but Backstrom remains an excellent two-way pivot.

13. Nathan MacKinnon (C/RW), Avalanche

Supremely talented, MacKinnon has teased NHL observers with mesmerizing ability. It is now time to put out.

14. Ryan Johansen, Predators

Nashville might have won the Stanley Cup last spring if Johansen were healthy. He is their best playmaker.

15. Alexander Wennberg, Blue Jackets

A supremely gifted playmaker, Wennberg might be passing the puck to sniper Artemi Panarin this season.

16. Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks

He may not dominate as much as when he was younger but 32-year-old Getzlaf is still a quality point producer.

17. Sean Monahan, Flames

He has size, maturity, sniping ability and a premier playmaker (Johnny Gaudreau) on his line. What is not to like?

18. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

If the Capitals decide to play Kuznetsov with Alex Ovechkin, he may have more value than Nicklas Backstrom.

19. Claude Giroux, Flyers

The Flyers need captain Claude to get back to his point-per-game scoring ways. Call it a comeback in 2017-18.

20. Logan Couture, Sharks

One year removed from leading the league in playoff scoring, Couture might enjoy a career year at age 28.