The best NHL centers on the market this off-season


With Nicklas Backstrom set to lose most, if not all of the 2022-23 NHL season, the Washington Capitals have a gaping hole in the middle of their second streak. While Conor McMichael will eventually fill that hole, the team preferred to be on the wing last season and might opt ​​for more experience in the position in a bid to salvage another Stanley Cup with its current core. Capitals should look elsewhere for a Backstrom replacement, here are their options:


Vincent Trochek – The 28-year-old finished the 2021-22 campaign with 21 goals, 51 points, a 52.99% five-over-five percentage projected score, and a 54.62% head-to-head win percentage in 81 games with the Carolina Hurricanes. He has yet to finish one season with an average score per game of less than 0.6 in the past seven seasons, including two where he has averaged 0.91. Trocheck, who added six goals and 10 points in 14 games after the season, averaged 2:53 per game on strong play (the third among the Carolina forwards) and 1:46 on the penalty kick (also third). He could cost around $6 million for the NHL maximum salary in his next deal.

Ryan Strom – The 28-year-old scored 21 goals, 54 points, 48.21% from five to five and a 44.38% win percentage in 74 regular season games before netting two goals and nine goals. Points in 19 postseason games last year for the New York Rangers. Strom reached the 30-point plateau in all but one of his eight NHL seasons (he scored 28 in 71 games in 2015-16 with the New York Islanders) and averaged 0.84, 0.88, and .73 points per game during his three full seasons with Rangers. Strom, who could make about $5 million annually, averaged 2:47 for the man’s advantage and 32 seconds with the man falling in 2021-22.

Nick Paul – The 27-year-old had 16 goals, 32 points, 48.31% of five over five predicted goals and 56.02% head-to-head win percentage in 80 games with the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning during the regular season before scoring Three goals and seven points in 17 games during Tampa Bay’s access to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Paul, who averaged 2:08 on a penalty kick during the regular season, put in 20 points in his first two full NHL seasons and could demand about $3 million in open market.

Andrew Cobb – The 27-year-old set his NHL highs in goals (21), assists (32), and points (53) while scoring 52.23% of five-for-five goals and 51.8% head-to-head ratio. Winning 72 games with the Winnipeg Jets and Rangers before racking up six goals and 14 points in 20 Stanley Cup playoffs. He also averaged 2:14 on the power game and 2:17 on the murder penalty. Prior to 2021-22, Kopp scored his career-highs in goals (15), assists (24), and points (39) in 55 games in 2020-21 having scored between 9-11 goals and 25-28 points each previous. Three seasons. He can claim a cap of about $5.5 million.


Dylan Strom (Chicago Blackhawks) – Word on the street is that the Blackhawks are shopping for the 25-year-old’s third team from 2015, who scored 22 goals, 48 ​​points, with a 48.87% five-to-five ratio. , a 52.3% head-to-head win percentage, and a 2:42 average of ice time to play power per game in 69 games last season. Prior to 2021-22, the suspended free agent suspended arbitration rights had 17 goals and 51 points in 58 games in 2018-19, 12 goals and 38 points in 58 games in 2019-20, and nine goals and 17 points in 40 games. In 2020-21 (though, he had tougher encounters with Jonathan Toyos this season). Strom would want a cap of about $4 million and would likely cost a second-round pick and a third-round pick to get it.

GT Miller (Vancouver Canucks) – The 29-year-old broke previous career highs with 32 goals, 67 assists, 99 points, 54.1% head-to-head win percentage and 51.03% expected goals – in percentage terms in 80 games for the Vancouver Canucks. , but had one season left on his $5.25 million deal before he became eligible for unrestricted free agency. Miller earned at least 43 points in each of his seven full seasons in the NHL and averaged 1.04, .87, and 1.24 points per game, respectively, in his three years in Vancouver. He averaged 3:19 in strong play for the Canucks and 2:05 in penalty kicks last season. Acquiring Miller wouldn’t come cheap because it would likely cost a first-round pick, a higher probability, a bottom six striker, and a lower pick to lure entry.

Mark Shevelle (Winnipeg Jets) — The future of the 29-year-old in Winnipeg is uncertain after Sheveley, who has two years at $6.125 million each remaining on his deal, questioned the Jets after the post-season missed for the first time since 2016. He earned 29 goals, 70 points, a 50.7% direct win percentage, and 48.3% five-for-five percentage points in his sixth consecutive season averaging at least one point per game. Schiefele averaged 3:28 on the Jets’ strong game this past season and is likely to demand a slightly less package than Miller in a potential deal.

RFA . Offer Sheets

These are rare but may make sense if the compensation cost is reasonable. Below is a list of full compensation requirements depending on the maximum features of the bid sheet for the 2022-23 season:

Photo: Sportsnet

In such a case, the Capitals will have to submit an offer sheet that does not make it worth keeping a potential target for the 2021-22 player’s team. However, they can only give a player a one-year contract and re-sign an extension that comes with a more reasonable ceiling blow when they become eligible either mid-season or beyond.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, Gates – The 23-year-old scored 23 goals, 60 points, 52.4% expected percentage point and 46.87% face-winning percentage in 81 games during his first full season at Winnipeg in 2021-22. Dubois, who averaged 3:07 in strong play for the Jets, two seasons where he scored 25 goals and 60 points plus 48 points under his belt in his first five in the NHL. Its market value can be around $5.5-6 million to sign.

Josh Norris, Senators — The 23-year-old scored 35 goals, 55 points, 51.06% direct win percentage and 47.03% five-on-five — on percentage in 66 games this past season, when he made his debut in his starter campaign. Consisting of 17 goals and 35 points. Norris averaged 3:14 in power play in Ottawa and 34 seconds on the penalty kick in 2021-22 and will likely cost around $6-6.5 million to get a contract.

Matthew Joseph, Senators – The 25-year-old, who was involved in the deal that sent Paul from Ottawa to Tampa Bay on the trade deadline, finished 2021-22 with 12 goals and 30 points, with a 45.46% tie-win percentage, 51.49 % Five goals against five expected goals in 69 matches. He scored 25 goals and 45 points in 126 games during his first two full seasons in the NHL where he played over 41 games but skated in just 37 during the 2019-20 season. Joseph was averaging 2:00 per game when his team underestimated a man and would likely cost close to $3 million to sign.

By Harrison Brown

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