The NHL network have included Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl among their “Top-20 Centers Right Now”. The timing for this is perfect, considering that we, here at Copper&Blue, have just finished our top-25 Oilers under 25, in which McDavid and Draisaitl took the first and second spot, respectively.
From NHL Network:
CONNOR MCDAVID RANKED 1ST AND LEON DRAISAITL RANKED 15TH
ON NHL NETWORK’S COUNTDOWN SERIES TOP 20 CENTERS RIGHT NOW
August 21, 2017 – Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid ranked first and teammate Leon Draisaitl ranked 15th on NHL Network’s countdown show Top 20 Centers Right Now last night, ranking the best centers in the National Hockey League. McDavid, who was ranked 13th on last year’s debut Top 20 Forwards Right Now countdown, finished one spot ahead of two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Draisaitl, who makes his debut on the first NHL Network ranking specific to the position, finished one spot ahead of the Nashville Predators’ Ryan Johansen and one spot behind the Buffalo Sabres’ Jack Eichel.
NHL Network’s Jamison Coyle and 11-year NHL center Mike Rupp counted down the best centers based on player performance over the past several seasons, with an emphasis on the 2016-2017 season. The ranking also weighted players’ projected performance in the 2017-2018 season, taking into account those returning from injury and expectant breakout seasons from young players.
On last night’s countdown, Rupp said of McDavid, “Nobody plays at the speed he does. His hands and his mind are working even faster than his feet are and that doesn’t even seem physically possible. That’s what defensemen have to see every night with Connor McDavid. …There is no ceiling. I haven’t seen it yet and that’s why I think this guy’s number one.”
An embeddable video recap of the top 20 centers, listed below, can be seen here.
NHL Network’s Top 20 Centers Right Now, 1-20:
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
4. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
6. John Tavares, New York Islanders
7. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
8. Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
9. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
10. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
11. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
12. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
13. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
14. Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
15. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
16. Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators
17. Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
18. Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
19. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals
20. Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
Throughout the 2017 offseason, NHL Network will rank the top players across the National Hockey League in five countdown series, starting with its lists of the best position players: Top 10 Goalies Right Now, Top 20 Wings Right Now, Top 20 Centers Right Now, and Top 20 Defensemen Right Now. The player rankings will culminate with NHL Network’s five-part series Top 50 Players Right Now, beginning Sunday, September 3. Following the completion of each show, viewers can visit NHLNetwork.com for videos on the latest rankings and share their thoughts on the series on social media using #NHLTopPlayers.
Both Oilers Centers have made big news this offseason, signing contracts for big money, and long-term. McDavid was the first to sign, doing so with an 8-year, $100 Million extension that will kick in for the 2018-19 season. Draisaitl then signed an 8-year, $68 Million contract last week. His $8.5 Million cap hit begins this coming season.
McDavid and Draisaitl finished 1st and 5th, respectively, among NHL Centers in points scored last season, and 1st and 4th, respectively, in Goals Above Replacement (GAR), among Centers. However, Draisaitl did spend a considerable amount of time playing right wing on McDavid’s line.
In 2015-16, when both players played center full-time, McDavid and Draisaitl ranked 1st and 33rd, respectively, among NHL Centers in points-per-game, and 1st and 8th, respectively, in GAR-per-minute (All situations).
These two young pivots will be asked to do most of the heavy lifting for the Oilers next season and beyond. This recognition is nice, but for the Oilers to fulfill their championship expectations, they’ll likely need both players to be among the top-10 league-wide at their position. The potential is certainly there.