Finding Value at the Center Position: 2017-2018

September 20, 2017


In part three of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on centers. Part I in this series discussed left wings while Part II discussed right wings. Specifically, we're interested in using the Yahoo average draft position (ADP) to not only determine the best players to target in your fantasy hockey draft, but also when to target them. The assumptions made in this article include the following: (1) you're in a Yahoo standard league, (2) your league has 12 managers, and (3) your league is not a keeper league.

Manager Behavior

Before we jump into the details of which centers are undervalued, it's important to get a handle on how managers are behaving in their fantasy hockey drafts so far. In the image below, you'll see exactly how many centers are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). Unlike the draft patterns for left wings and right wings, centers are coming off the board quickly in this year's drafts. There are more centers (10) being selected in the first two rounds than left wings (3) and right wings (6) combined.

Player Rankings and ADP

At, we create annual fantasy hockey draft kits in which we marry your scoring settings with our projections to generate customized player rankings. For the purpose of this article, we generated the customized player rankings for NHL players that can be drafted as centers in the Yahoo fantasy hockey system. We then compare these player rankings to the player's ADP to determine which players are undervalued. That is, we're looking for players that our draft system has ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.

Below, you'll find a table of 15 players that are eligible at center and are being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts (there are many more listed in our draft kit). Detailed comments for some of these players can be found below the table.

Evgeni MalkinPITC411.2
Jack EichelBUFC813.2
Nicklas BackstromWSHC1520.8
Tyler SeguinDALC,RW521.7
John TavaresNYIC1723.7
Steven StamkosTBLC329.4
Artemi PanarinCBJC,LW2031.2
Joe PavelskiSJSC,RW1631.8
Mitchell MarnerTORC,RW2433.4
Patrice BergeronBOSC3856.1
Sean MonahanCGYC3364.7
Claude GirouxPHIC1269.1
Brayden SchennSTLC,LW3787.4
Aleksander BarkovFLAC4299.1
Ryan JohansenNSHC31104.5
  • Jack Eichel - If you want Eichel on your fantasy roster this year (and why wouldn't you), you'll probably have to grab him in the 1st round. One of the tricks to doing well in any fantasy league (but especially the Yahoo standard leagues) is to draft players who are high volume shooters. High volume shooters produce goals and provide a buffer against unlucky shooting percentage swings. With 300+ shots on goal and ample power play time, Eichel is going to provide tremendous coverage across multiple categories.
  • Steven Stamkos - With most fantasy hockey managers scared off by his injury history, Stamkos has found himself with an ADP of 29.4 this season. This means that he is surviving (on average) into the 3rd round. His ADP in the most recent three seasons have been 7.8, 3.5, and 2.3. There is tremendous value here to grab a Top-5 player in the league in the 2nd or 3rd round of your draft.
  • Patrice Bergeron - Bergeron was awarded points on just 59.1% of the goals his team scored at even-strength while he was on the ice. This measure is known as Individual Points Percentage (IPP) and Bergeron's career average is 74%. What this means for you fantasy hockey managers out there is that Bergeron's total of 53 points last season was due to poor luck and you should expect a rebound season from him. Not only should you expect a bump in points for Bergeron, but he's made our list of players expected to see a double-digit gain in their +/- values.
  • Claude Giroux - There is plenty to be worried about here: three straight years of declining goal totals; three straight years of declining point totals; three straight years of declining shooting percentage; and two straight years of declining shot production. A dropoff in performance was expected, given that Giroux is past his prime. So, why consider drafting this guy at all? Because you're betting that his performance last year was not indicative of his actual talent level. There are plenty of reasons why that is true: Giroux spent no more than 28% of his time with the same linemates last season (that number is typically above 50% for 1st line centers); Giroux was recovering from hip and abdomen surgeries he had in the Summer of 2016; Giroux posted an IPP value of just 52.9% (his career values is 72.5%). For every reason you think you have not to draft Giroux, there is at least one matching argument for why you should. He's currently being ignored until the 6th round in most drafts and that seems like a steal for a guy who is likely going to be double listed as a C and LW. Not convinced? Read our two page profile on Claude Giroux in this year's fantasy hockey draft kit.

Customized Player Rankings

If you're looking for a chance to draft players with great projections that are being ignored by the other fantasy hockey websites, then consider downloading one of our fantasy hockey draft kits this season. You won't be disappointed. While this article focused on the Yahoo standard scoring system, our customized draft kits can handle just about any scoring system you throw our way.

For 10 years, you've trusted Left Wing Lock as a reliable source to bring you accurate starting goalie information, line combinations, and player news alerts. That same passion and dedication fuels us as we create what we believe are the best fantasy hockey draft kits available. We invite you to let us build your customized fantasy hockey draft kit for the 2017-2018 season. Order your kit today!