Calgary Flames

2022–23 midseason NHL centre depth rankings

Welcome to the first of four midseason rankings we will be doing in the coming week. After all four major positions have been ranked (Centre, Winger, Defence, and Goalie), we will put out our TWC consolidated rankings. We are starting off with the centre position, where the Flames ranked sixth to start off the year. Their Alberta rival took the first spot, while the Arizona Coyotes took last place. Where will everything end up mid-season? Well, let’s get into it, starting off with number one:

#1 Edmonton Oilers (-)

Depth chart: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan McLeod, Devin Shore

You probably saw this coming, right? It is very hard to beat an Oilers team in these rankings with both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl down the middle. There’s really no one else that can even compete with Edmonton, so they take the first place spot.

Note: Nugent-Hopkins, who has most of his ice time down the middle so far this season, is going to be featured in our winger rankings, as him and Draisaitl have both played on the wing at times this season.

#2 Toronto Maple Leafs (-)

Depth chart: Auston Matthews, John Tavares, David Kampf, Pontus Holmberg

Similarly to Edmonton, Toronto is carried by their top two centres. While Matthews isn’t on the same 60-goal pace as last year, he’s still one of the best centres in the league. Even though his goal totals are lower, he still has 20 goals and 47 points in 41 games. Tavares has remained steady behind Matthews, keeping a point-per-game pace. Kampf is a solid defensive centre.

#3 Pittsburgh Penguins (-)

Depth chart: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter, Teddy Blueger

No change here either, as Crosby, Malkin, Carter is a very solid combo up the middle. Crosby is an age-less wonder, with 47 points in 39 games. It seems like Ovechkin and Crosby will never fade—and that’s great. Pretty crazy that a group with Crosby and Malkin is the third best group, but here we are.

#4 Vegas Golden Knights (+8)

Depth chart: Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson, Nicolas Roy

One of the biggest risers on our list, the Golden Knights boast a very impressive centre core. Any doubts about Jack Eichel were quickly cast aside, as he has 32 points in 29 games. The biggest help to boost the Knights up the list is Chandler Stephenson, who has a whopping 40 points in 42 games this season. Add in William Karlsson and Nicolas Roy, two reliable players, and this is a great centre core.

#5 Florida Panthers (-1)

Depth chart: Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett, Anton Lundell, Eric Staal

Alex Barkov is one of the best centres in the league, so he propels the Panthers up the list. Beyond that, Sam Bennett has taken a bit of a step back since being taken away from Huberdeau. However, Anton Lundell continues to take positive strides and Eric Staal is still contributing.

#6 Boston Bruins (+3)

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, Tomas Nosek

The Bruins are remarkable this season. You can thank Patrice Bergeron—among others—for that. Bergeron remains the staple of two-way ability and success. Krejci has returned to the Bruins lineup and found a very nice spot next to David Pastrnak. Beyond that, Coyle and Nosek are great options for third and fourth line centres.

#7 Calgary Flames (-1)

Depth chart: Elias Lindholm, Nazem Kadri, Mikael Backlund, Trevor Lewis

Elias Lindholm has remained at a similar point pace as last season, being a key player in all areas of the ice. Flames All-Star Nazem Kadri looked great to start and has regained the form recently. Not enough good things can be said about Mikael Backlund, who was the Flames best player through the first half of the season. Backlund for Selke!

#8 St. Louis Blues (-1)

Depth chart: Robert Thomas, Ryan O’Reilly (injured), Brayden Schenn, Noel Acciari

The Blues have a budding star in Robert Thomas, who has formed one of my favourite lines alongside Pavel Buchnevich and Jordan Kyrou. Ryan O’Reilly has taken a step back this season and is currently injured, but the Blues have Brayden Schenn and Noel Acciari behind him. Acciari has surprised a lot of people this season with his strong play.

#9 Tampa Bay Lightning (-1)

Depth chart: Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Nick Paul, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

This Bolts centre core has everything. Brayden Point is a star centre, although I would say on the lower end. Behind him though, is two-key extraordinaire Anthony Cirelli, and great depth in Nick Paul and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Bellemare is the perfect fourth line centre on a winning team.

#10 New York Rangers (-)

Depth chart: Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck, Filip Chytil, Ryan Carpenter

Mika Zibanejad remains one of the top producing centres in the entire league, with 44 points in 41 games. Vincent Trocheck has fit in well with this Rangers team, and has 30 points in 41 games. Filip Chytil continues to take positive steps in his development path, already two points away from tying his career-high of 23.

#11 Washington Capitals (+5)

Depth chart: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller, Nic Dowd

Note: Dylan Strome has shifted to the wing since Nicklas Backstrom has returned, so he will be featured in the winger rankings.

Evgeny Kuznetsov has stayed around the point-per-game pace he’s used to playing at. Backstrom is just returning from injury, and him and Alex Ovechkin should rekindle the magic they’ve had for so many years. Beyond that, Lars Eller is the perfect third line centre, and Nic Dowd is incredible as a 4C. Interestingly, Dowd rates as one of the best analytical players this season.

#12 Vancouver Canucks (-7)

Depth chart: Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Sheldon Dries, Nils Aman

Note: J.T. Miller has primarily played on the wing this season, so he will be featured in our winger rankings.

The Canucks fall on this list just due to Miller switching to the winger list. Both Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat have had career seasons, and could have almost kept the Canucks in fifth place themselves. Pettersson currently has 47 points in 37 games, while Horvat has 29 goals and 44 points in 39 games. It almost feels wrong to drop them so far in this list, but the depth behind Pettersson and Horvat just isn’t there.

#13 New Jersey Devils (+1)

Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Michael McLeod, Jesper Boqvist

One of my favourite players in the league is finally shining through. Jack Hughes has 49 points in 40 games, good for eighth in league scoring. And he should probably have more given the amount of offence he creates every night. Add in Nico Hischier, who has also had a fantastic season, and the Devils have one of the best set of top-six centres in the league. The talent does drop off after Hughes and Hischier, though.

#14 Carolina Hurricanes (+1)

Depth chart: Sebastian Aho, Paul Stastny, Jordan Staal, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Derek Stepan

The Carolina Hurricanes have a very good centre in Sebastian Aho, and a ton of depth to follow him. Paul Stastny and Jordan Staal are both great third line centres, although I’m not sure I’d call either a capable second liner. Kotkaniemi is making a lot of money for a lot of years. His 13 points in 40 games is looking mightily expensive, especially as he finds himself now on the fourth line.

#15 New York Islanders (+2)

Depth chart: Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Casey Cizikas

The Islanders jump up a spot, due to the strong play from Brock Nelson. Nelson has a whopping 38 points in 41 games, which looks good paired with Mat Barzal’s 41 points in 40 games. Having Jean-Gabriel Pageau as your 3C is very solid, and Casey Cizikas is your perfect stereotypical 4C.

#16 Winnipeg Jets (+5)

Depth chart: Mark Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Adam Lowry, Kevin Stenlund

The Jets are risers in our rankings, due to the tremendous season that Pierre-Luc Dubois is having. Currently, Dubois has 47 points in 40 games, which is tied for 16th in league scoring. Scheifele is very solid in his own right, and Lowry is perfectly fine as a 3C.

#17 Colorado Avalanche (-4)

Depth chart: Nathan MacKinnon, J.T. Compher, Alex Newhook, Ben Meyers

We all know how good Nathan MacKinnon is. Just watch his replay against the Oilers last week. He definitely brings up the Avalanche a ton on this list, because other than him, it’s bleak. J.T. Compher is a third line centre on a good team, and Alex Newhook hasn’t impressed so far in his young career.

#18 LA Kings (+2)

Depth chart: Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, Blake Lizotte, Rasmus Kupari

With a top-six of Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, the Kings have the best one-two centre punch when it comes to being defensively responsible. If you don’t know the name Blake Lizotte, he’s really impressed as a bottom-six forward with the Kings. Add Quinton Byfield and other prospects at some point in the near future, and the Kings have something special.

#19 Ottawa Senators (+3)

Depth chart: Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris (injured), Shane Pinto, Dylan Gambrell, Mark Kastelic

The Senators rise up in the rankings, in large part to Tim Stutzle’s successful season, where he has eclipsed 39 points in 35 games. Josh Norris has missed a ton of time, but should be back to form when he returns. All three of Stutzle, Norris, and Shane Pinto are young and should continue to improve.

#20 Buffalo Sabres (+9)

Depth chart: Tage Thompson, Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, Tyson Jost

The Sabres are our biggest riser on this list, due to Tage Thompson’s insanity run of a year. Currently, he has 31 goals and 56 points in 37 games—dominating teams with his unique blend of size, hands, and speed. Complete insanity. Dylan Cozens has also grown into his role and looks like the top-ten pick he was drafted as. This group could probably feature higher on this list already, and will continue to jump as their young players continue to develop.

#21 San Jose Sharks (-3)

Depth chart: Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Nick Bonino, Nico Sturm, Steven Lorentz

The Sharks fall a bit in our rankings, due to other teams jumping them. Tomas Hertl continues to be an underrated player around the league, with 37 points in 39 games. Him and Logan Couture continue to be solid top-six centres, but it really falls off after that. It’s not a terrible group by any means, but not one I want to run into a playoff series with.

#22 Dallas Stars (+3)

Depth chart: Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin, Wyatt Johnston, Radek Faksa

The Stars’ rise up this list due to Hintz staying in form alongside Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski, plus a resurgent Tyler Seguin and newcomer Wyatt Johnston. Not enough good things can be said about Hintz, who helps to form one of, if not the best line in the NHL.

#23 Seattle Kraken (-)

Depth chart: Matty Beniers, Alex Wennberg, Yanni Gourde, Morgan Geekie

The Kraken stay where they are in our rankings, in large part due to the tremendous season Matty Beniers has put forth. Currently, Beniers has 30 points in 38 games, while being a solid defensive contributor. He should be a consensus top-two pick for the Calder (along with Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson). Yanni Gourde continues to be a very underrated player league-wide.

#24 Anaheim Ducks (-5)

Depth chart: Trevor Zegras, Ryan Strome, Mason McTavish, Isac Lundestrom, Sam Carrick

This Ducks centre group is young and will shoot them up the ranks once they develop further. For now, it’s full of potential. Mason McTavish stands out as someone who has had an underrated season, eclipsing 26 points in 41 games on a brutal Ducks team.

#25 Detroit Red Wings (-1)

Depth chart: Dylan Larkin, Andrew Copp, Joe Veleno, Michael Rasmussen

Dylan Larkin is the positive force we all know about, with 33 points in 37 games. Copp has been a solid addition, although the Red Wings are probably hoping for a bit more. Aside from that, some young players who will continue to develop.

#26 Minnesota Wild (-15)

Depth chart: Sam Steel, Joel Eriksson-Ek, Frederick Gaudreau, Connor Dewar

Note: Ryan Hartman was injured for a large part of the 2022–23 season, and has played primarily on the wing since returning to action. He will feature in our winger rankings.

The Wild’s high ranking in our preseason rankings was primarily due to Hartman’s great season next to Kirill Kaprisov. As mentioned, he will move to the winger rankings, which drops the Wild here. Joel Eriksson-Ek is one of the underrated players around the league, with 31 points in 39 games, while being very solid defensively. Marco Rossi still needs time to develop, leaving the Wild with Sam Steel and Frederick Gaudreau as plug-and-play guys.

#27 Philadelphia Flyers (-1)

Depth chart: Sean Couturier (injured), Kevin Hayes, Morgan Frost, Noah Cates, Patrick Brown

The Flyers would be a lot higher if Sean Couturier was in the lineup. Unfortunately for them, he has yet to return to action this season, so their centre options have fluctuated. Kevin Hayes has had a very underrated season with 35 points in 39 games, on pace for his best offensive season by a landslide.

#28 Montreal Canadiens (-)

Depth chart: Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans, Sean Monahan (injured)

Nick Suzuki is a strong piece to build around, but other than that, there’s really not much to like here. Hoping Sean Monahan can get healthy again.

#29 Nashville Predators (-2)

Depth chart: Mikael Granlund, Ryan Johansen, Juuso Parssinen, Cody Glass, Thomas Novak

All of those career years in 2021–22 have subsided, as we predicted. The Predators seem to always have troubles with the centre position. This is especially true this year, where they have featured prospect Juuso Parssinen on the top line for segments.

#30 Columbus Blue Jackets (-)

Depth chart: Boone Jenner (injured), Kent Johnson, Jack Roslovic, Cole Sillinger, Sean Kuraly

Another centre group that could skyrocket up these rankings once Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger continue to further their development. For now though, poor Johnny Gaudreau.

#31 Chicago Blackhawks (-)

Depth chart: Jonathan Toews, Max Domi, Jason Dickinson, Sam Lafferty, Jujhar Khaira

Max Domi has been a nice fit on the Blackhawks, and will fetch them a decent asset or two at the deadline. Jonathan Toews is slowing down, but still effective. Aside from that, Jason Dickinson was a solid depth addition.

#32 Arizona Coyotes (-)

Depth chart: Travis Boyd, Barret Hayton, Nick Bjustad, Jack McBain

The Coyotes centre’ position will start to rise up the charts in the coming years, as Hayton and their prospect pool (namely Logan Cooley) join the NHL ranks. For now, using Travis Boyd as your 1C pretty much summarizes what’s going on here.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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