August means lists. Lots and lots of NHL lists, because what else is there to talk about?
Also joining in on the fun was NHL.com, who just released their opinion on the top 20 centers in the NHL.
Nathan MacKinnon was obviously going to be on there, and anyone who’s not a lunatic would have him in their top 5, but where did they ultimately place him?
That means he jumped up a spot, as they had him at #3 after winning the Stanley Cup last season.
The only player they ranked higher than MacKinnon was Connor McDavid, which is kind of a no-brainer. The player MacKinnon ultimately jumped was Auston Matthews, who saw his numbers fall off a good bit after a 60 goal campaign in 2021-22. Matthews actually dropped two spots to #4.
To be honest, I can’t really disagree with his placement. No one was more dominant 5v5 last season, and he’s coming off the best year of his career. This list might draw the ire of both Oilers and Maple Leafs fans, and to be fair, I think there’s an argument to be made for all of Matthews, MacKinnon, and Leon Draisaitl at #2. While Draisaitl leaves a lot to be desired in his own end, he’s a freak offensively, and some of the passes he makes are just absurd.
Rounding out the top 5 is the ageless wonder, Sidney Crosby.
If anything, this list just makes you realize how many incredible centers there are in the NHL. At first glance, I was surprised to see a guy like Sebastian Aho all the way down at #16, but when you look at who is above him, it’s difficult to argue moving him higher. Tim Stutzle is one guy I see continuing to climb the list. I’m a huge fan of his game.
So what do you think? Did NHL.com get it right? I know there are some Avalanche fans who would take MacKinnon over McDavid, but I’m not ready to go there. McDavid is special, and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen someone like him before.