Minnesota Wild 2011-12 season preview; ranking the centers
The National Hockey League’s Northwest Division has some highly talented forwards and most of them are in the middle.
Here are my rankings of the five centers in the Northwest Division.
No. 5 – Sam Gagner, Edmonton Oilers. He is a small center with very good vision, passing and playmaking skills. He can play center or wing and has good one-on-one moves. He needs to improve his play away from the puck and faceoff ability. He is not an elite player and may be best suited for a second line role.
No. 4 – Olli Jokinen, Calgary Flames. He is a big center with elite goal scorer instincts. He has all the skills to be a complete player. However, he needs to improve his consistency and leadership skills. He does not always use his playmaking skills and will struggle when paired on a line with other goal scorers.
No. 3 – Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche. The former first round draft pick is still very young and developing, but already looks like he will be one of the best centers in the league in the near future. He is an elite offensive player with a good combination of goal scoring and playmaking skills. He is a good two-way player with very good skating skills. He is improving his consistency and maturity. He has a tendency to try to do too much on the ice.
No. 2 – Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild. He is the best two-way center in the division and one of the best in the league. He is an outstanding leader and is very strong in the faceoff circle. He is an outstanding playmaker and has a very good shot. However, he passes up shot opportunities and has not played with a consistent goal scoring. This season is a potentially huge one for him with two new goal-oriented forwards added in the offseason.
No. 1 – Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks. The former Art Ross Trophy winner is the most offensively polished center in the division. He is one of the best playmakers in the league, especially with the chemistry he has developed with his twin brother Daniel. He is good on faceoffs and is an elite offensive player. However with all the offensive praise, he is not an elite goal scorer and has a tendency to pass up shot opportunities to look for Daniel. He also can be worn down using too much energy trying to play defense.
*Players are listed at the position listed on each team’s official website.