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.

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.


Kings Things

Today is the 30 year anniversary of a little trade that had some moderate impact on the Kings. Happy Kingsiversary, Wayne Gretzky.

Alec Martinez vs. Children. This seems unfair somehow.

Here is a picture of a very young Jonathan Quick. You’re welcome.

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.

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.

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) ]

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.

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]