Led by Corey Masisak, a team of writers have published their ranking of the league’s top 14 centers. Washington Capitals center Nick Backstrom is not on that list.

Nathan MacKinnon, Claude Giroux, Joe Thornton, and Henrik Sedin all ranked above Backstrom. Only one writer, Dan Rosen, included Backstrom in the top 14.

I’m not outraged. I can kind of see why they did it, and it all depends on how we define our terms.


If this ranking were truly about individual talent and nebulous stuff like “potential,” Backstrom should and would be in the top 10. Personally, I’d put him around 7th– near Tavares and Bergeron.

But during 5v5 last season, Backstrom’s team was outscored 56 to 41. His plus-minus (thanks to a bunch of shorthanded goals against) was a dreary minus-20, if you countenance such things. And while Backstrom racked up a bunch of 5v5 assists on Ovechkin goals, he scored just four times during even strength when skating with Ovi– a 4.5 shooting percentage. He didn’t look like a top center, even though he is.

Backstrom is a great player; he just played on a bad team last year. His talent was obscured by unwise lineup decisions, a faltering defensive scheme, the lack of a second good scoring option at wing, and some rotten luck. Much of that you can pin on Adam Oates.

The article didn’t specify if the players’ circumstances were factored in to the rankings, and it’s not totally clear if the list comprises a sort of projection for next season. (If so, I’d be a little skeptical about Nate MacKinnon at number 13.) Still, as a list of “who was awesome last season and might be awesome again,” I think the list is pretty darn good.

But if we’re making a list of who we think the top 14 centers in league will be next season, Backstrom should be a lock.

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  • Freedoooom

    Anyone that ranks Toews, Kopitar, or really seriously Bergeron over Malkin is clearly an absolute moron.

  • Well, that’s the exact opposite of the tone I was going for.

  • Rob W.
  • ThrowmetheWHIP

    The big story here for me: has writers? And 4 of them?! I thought was run by Mrs. Sterlings 6th grade keyboarding class.
    You learn something everyday.

  • Jon Snow

    Toews or Kopitar who both have two cups? Yeah, absolute moron.

  • dylan wheatley

    Below average year for Nicklas Backstrom.

  • VeggieTart

    It may be accurate, but it still makes me want to puke that Crosby is unanimously number one.

  • Rob W.

    Id take Toews over everyone else if i was starting a team…

  • Might be the stomach flu. It’s going around.

  • I guess averaging PPG over 7 seasons coming in to prime doesn’t make you a top 14 center…

  • Cups are a team accomplishment, and that’s a very good illustration of what I was saying above.

  • Freedoooom

    Malkin has one, and a higher playoff PPG on top of a much higher regular season PPG.

  • yv

    It seems fair ranking of Nicky for the past season. +/- really dragging him as a center (and Ovi) down. However, according to projections by Chuck Gormley, Nicky will have +10 this season, and Alex +3. Which will mean they will have together almost +70 improvement with Trotz compare to past season?! With such huge jump it may be time to invest 100 bucks in Caps? According to today’s Brovada stakes, Caps are only 40/1, Chicago is first with 13/2. Those 100$ would be enough to get season ticket for the Caps post championship season.

  • Whoa, link me to those projections by Gormley. I wanna see that.

  • yv (click on the names in the box and you will get projections on Nicky and others)
    It is interesting to see what projections by writers will actually means for Caps. If to put together those #s by Chuck G. than Caps should have much better season than last one when Caps missed playoffs for just 3 points.

  • Curious as to his methodology there.

  • GraboviMyBozak

    Just a bunch of buffoons who jump on hype trains. That train clearly hasn’t stopped at Backstroms place.

  • Bilal

    is that…….mr Rodgers……..?

  • Lawrence

    The real list:

    1. Crosby
    2. Malkin
    3. Stamkos
    4. Getzlaf
    5. Giroux
    6. Toews
    7. Kopitar
    8. Tavares
    9. Backstrom
    10. Bergeron
    11. Datsyuk
    12. Zetterberg
    13. Seguin
    14. Thornton

  • DustinPenncakes

    Didn’t Zetterberg switch over to playing the wing? Or am I crazy.

  • Sarah

    Lol! And yet, Mrs. Sterling’s class still has it over ESPN for hockey.

  • Sarah

    I know I’ve said this before, but I love you, man. Thank you.

  • Bo


  • dylan wheatley

    i think you mean
    1: jay beagle
    2-14: everybody else

  • serpent

    In a Pee Wee Herman suit?

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    More horrendous is the defense list that had Ryan Suter ranked 14th. 14th! Mark Giordano was ranked higher.

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    Bergeron has no business being in the top 10

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    and he still had 79 points

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    1. Crosby
    2. Toews
    3. Malkin
    4. Stamkos
    5. Kopitar
    6. Tavares
    7. Getzlaf
    8. Giroux
    9. Backstrom
    10. Seguin
    11. Bergeron
    12. Datsyuk
    13. Zetterberg
    14. Thorton

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    Well you are crazy but Zetterberg has played wing and center recently.

  • OvechkinFiresAndScores08

    Number one in diving, whining, crying, choking, losing, cheap shotting. Other than that he is a fantastic player!