Offseason Watch: There’s Something About Centers
Anze Kopitar, reigning Selke winner and sixth best center in the NHL?
The NHL ranking anything feels a lot like asking me to rank my favorite desserts — arbitrary at best, heavily biased, not necessarily grounded in fact.
You don’t have to look much further than their much-derided 100 Greatest Players list, released in conjunction with the league’s centennial season. Almost immediately, criticism rolled in across the internet, calling out the absence of prominent players from all eras, including Evgeni Malkin, Joe Thornton, Pierre Pilote, Jarome Iginla, and Ed Belfour.
So when the NHL Network recently posted its list of the top 20 centers in the league, of course there was an immediate uprising on social media.
ICYMI: Here are our Top 20 Centers in the NHL right now. #NHLTopPlayers pic.twitter.com/3NeJuzarQG— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 6, 2018
The internet backlash and questioning of the list was swift and brutal. Is Auston Matthews a better center than Anze Kopitar? Are 13 people really better than Nicklas Backstrom? Was Ryan Getzlaf evaluated on past performance versus current state? From Chicago, a lonesome cry of: “Where is Jonathan Toews?”
Perhaps we should be happy with what we have, Anze Kopitar, reigning Selke Award winner, slotted in as what the NHL has deemed the sixth-best center in the league. That’s not too shabby — look at any team struggling for depth down the middle and you’ll see a team that would be overjoyed to see their top center on this list. Sixth is perfectly respectable for a player who consistently leads his team in points, is nearly always in the Selke conversation, and who is widely thought of as a very difficult player to go up against.
Today is the 30 year anniversary of a little trade that had some moderate impact on the Kings. Happy Kingsiversary, Wayne Gretzky.
"A move that will be beneficial for the game of hockey." - Wayne Gretzky on August 9, 1988— LA Kings (@LAKings) August 9, 2018
It sure was, Wayne. It sure was. 🙌
Full coverage of the 30th anniversary of biggest trade in sports history:
🏒 https://t.co/LZaZ8HEFtJ pic.twitter.com/iZXO2y3nU9
30 YEARS AGO TODAY: Wayne Gretzky, the centerpiece of the @EdmontonOilers' dynasty, was traded to the @LAKings.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 9, 2018
More TDIH: https://t.co/B0V0FriR39 pic.twitter.com/cX4mRFfTc5
Gretzky, who helped grow the game to new levels after the trade, averaged 115 points per season across eight campaigns with the @LAKings including a franchise record 54-114—168 in his debut season with the club (1988-89). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/dTqNEp93V9— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 9, 2018
Alec Martinez vs. Children. This seems unfair somehow.
Kings Camp campers trying to beat Kings Alec Martinez in a race #moneyonmarty Thanks Alec for coming out and skating with the kids pic.twitter.com/dqkcWtlkOf— Daryl Evans (@DarylEvans15) August 6, 2018
Here is a picture of a very young Jonathan Quick. You’re welcome.
On this day in 2005, the @LAKings drafted @avonoldfarms goaltender @JonathanQuick32 in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft #Hockey365 pic.twitter.com/7i2WEgjT3k— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) July 31, 2018
Kings prospect Johan Södergran (2018, 6th round) has been selected to play for Sweden’s U20 team at Four Nations this month.
Jonny Brodzinski and Mikey Eyssimont have both been keeping busy with Minnesota’s Da Beauty League this summer. Eyssimont has five goals in five games, including a hat trick.
Pretty passing by Jonny Brodzinski @LAKings #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/3nRGUMZbWf— Da Beauty League (@DaBeautyLeague) August 7, 2018
#LaKings @MikeyEyssimont @SCSUHUSKIES_MH with a 🎩 8-3 @WalserAutoGroup #DBL pic.twitter.com/z24kBHORqT— Da Beauty League (@DaBeautyLeague) August 2, 2018
While We’re Talking About Summer Leagues …
Apparently Denver felt left out of the pro hockey summer league action and started up The Flow League. Team Harvard, featuring Nick Shore (and his many brothers), were the winners of their brief season.
Your 2018 Flow League Champions pic.twitter.com/ebdRBEwCPO— The Flow League (@theflowleague) August 3, 2018
News From Elsewhere
The hockey world mourns the passing of Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 78. Tributes to the hockey icon are pouring in from across the league. [ Second City Hockey | Bob Verdi (Chicago Blackhawks) | Faxes From Uncle Dale | Mark Lazerus (Chicago Sun-Times) | Chris Kuc (The Athletic) ]
Also, in lieu of flowers, the Mikita family asks that donations be made to the following organizations: pic.twitter.com/AVuJY6gqKr— Tracey Myers (@Tramyers_NHL) August 8, 2018
The NWHL launched a program to help link professional women’s hockey to youth girls’ teams across the country. The LA Lions, an all-girls’ club supported by the Kings, have joined the ranks of affiliated teams.
.@LAKings and @DarylEvans15 check us out! One day very soon, girls that have grown up in the LA Kings organization will be playing professional hockey for the @NWHL. Mark our words. ❤️ #squadgoals #feartheroar @BlueShieldCA https://t.co/CpBZ9iNCXd— LA Lions Hockey (@LALionsHockey) August 6, 2018
Joe Louis Arena is being demolished. Time, as always, marches on. [The Athletic]
A condor on the ice? What could possibly go wrong? [The Athletic]
Marie-Philip Poulin and Caroline Ouellette recently ran a hockey camp — for adult women. Growing the game shouldn’t stop with kids. [Hockey in Society]
A look at the increasing trend of huge signing bonuses — and very little actual salary — for players. [TSN]
For stats fans, the 2018 update for Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract is out. [Hockey Abstract]