Let’s get 26-17 out of the way. Part 1 is right here: https://thepuckunderthesun.com/2018/07/27/ranking-all-31-nhl-top-line-centers-part-1/
26- Mika Zibanejad (New York Rangers)
Zibanejad is a decent center but he hasn’t exceeded 51 points in his career. In my opinion, a top line center needs to put up 60 points on a consistent basis. Because Zibanejad doesn’t have a lot points he has to be put here at number 26.
25- Bo Horvat (Vancouver)
With the Sedins gone, Horvat is the #1 center in Vancouver. Another young gun, Horvat’s most points in a season are 52. Horvat has potential but the reason he is so low on the list is because the Canucks have been terrible during his tenure. Hopefully with Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and others, Horvat can improve and lead the Canucks to their first cup but both Horvat’s odds of climbing into the top 10 centers and the Canucks winning the cup seems like a moonshot.
24- Eric Staal (Minnesota)
Eric Staal was a very dynamic center in Carolina and he has been regaining his touch in Minnesota. He has been fantastic in Minnesota. However due to his age, he is ranked this low.
23- Dylan Larkin (Detroit)
Dylan Larkin is the #1 center in Detroit as it sounds like Henrik Zetterberg will be going on the IR. One of the fastest players in the game, Larkin is an offensive talent. However the reason Larkin is so low is because he doesn’t have a great defensive game. Larkin needs to work on his defensive game and with Detroit absolutely slaying it at the draft with offensive prospects, Larkin should have the chance to develop his defensive game and climb this list.
22- William Karlsson (Vegas)
Yes I know this is a big surprise but hear me out. Everyone on Vegas had record setting seasons last year. Remember Karlsson’s career high in points in one season was 25 before he exploded for 78 points last year. The Golden Knights aren’t going to be as good as they were last year. They will still make the playoffs but I see them getting 10 less points and Karlsson is going to drop. He won’t drop back to 25 but he will likely fall down to the 50 point plateau and hopefully be consistent there. He can prove me wrong but this Vegas team is really striking me as a one year wonder.
21- Matt Barzal (NY Islanders)
I can already hear the boos. With Tavares leaving the Islanders, the man now is Matt Barzal. Barzal was phenomenal last year putting up 85 points. However the reason he is this low is because he needs to prove himself as a consistent performer. I have a lot of confidence that Barzal will climb this list in the future. However it is worth wondering how possible linemates Josh Bailey and Anders Lee will be affected by the loss of the captain.
20- Matt Duchene (Ottawa)
Matt Duchene is pretty overrated in my opinion although I consider him a legit top line center. But his story is such a piece of karma but I don’t need to explain it. Duchene hasn’t exceeded 60 points since 2013-14 which is what I said that most top liners should be putting up. With a terrible Ottawa team and the loss of winger Mike Hoffman, Duchene doesn’t really have a lot of supporting scoring around him in Ottawa.
19- Jack Eichel (Buffalo)
Oh Eichel. Like Duchene I think he is overrated but unlike Duchene I see Eichel improving. With Ryan O’Reilly traded, Eichel is the #1 center in Buffalo and I see him doing well. However the NHL is very competitive and I just see 18 other centers that are better than him.
18- Joe Thornton (San Jose)
Jumbo Joe is probably the oldest #1 center in the league and it was hard figuring out who to put here between him and Couture. However I think Joe Thornton will get one more year on the top line and the man deserves it. Although he has been declining in recent years and I think Eichel will easily pass him early on in the season, he has had to go through injuries.
17- Ryan Johansen (Nashville)
Now I was having trouble positioning the 15-16-17 row but I think that Johansen is the weakest out of the group that includes him, Brayden Schenn and Ryan Getzlaf. He only put up 54 points last year but he was coming off of surgery and I think that since it has been more time now that he will bounce back in 2018-19.