Central Division: Centers of Attention

Spezza Stastny Richards

The Central Division, arguably the best in the NHL last season, made some of the more notable moves as free agency opened on Tuesday. With two more big-name centers being added to the group, and another changing teams within the division, there is no question that the Central is now home of the deepest group in the league.

Last season, only 57 centers in the NHL took more than 1,000 faceoffs. With the additions of Jason Spezza in Dallas and Brad Richards in Chicago, 12 of those 57 are now in the Central.

Of those 57 centers, only 28 took 1,000 faceoffs and scored at least 20 goals. Including Spezza and Richards, seven of those 28 are now in the Central.

Only 18 centers in the NHL scored at least 20 goals last season while winning at least 50 percent of more than 1,000 faceoffs. Six of those 18 are now in the Central; Richards won 49.76 percent of his faceoffs last year, ranking 19th among centers with at least 20 goals and 1,000 draws.

Here are top 20 centers from the 2013-14 season with at least 20 goals and 1,000 faceoffs taken, ranked by faceoff win percentage:

Player Team Pos GP G  Tot FO FO%
Patrice Bergeron BOS C 80 30    1,732 58.60%
Jonathan Toews CHI C 76 28    1,544 57.25%
Antoine Vermette PHX C 82 24    1,783 56.37%
Joe Pavelski SJS C 82 41    1,206 55.97%
Jordan Staal CAR C 82 25    1,477 54.37%
Paul Stastny COL C 71 25    1,210 54.13%
Jason Spezza OTT C 75 23    1,436 53.97%
Anze Kopitar LAK C 82 29    1,451 53.27%
Claude Giroux PHI C 82 28    1,760 52.90%
Ryan Johansen CBJ C 82 33    1,311 52.78%
Eric Staal CAR C 79 21    1,430 52.73%
Ryan Kesler VAN C 77 25    1,406 52.63%
Sidney Crosby PIT C 80 36    1,887 52.52%
Valtteri Filppula TBL C 75 25    1,326 52.26%
Mike Fisher NSH C 75 20    1,146 52.01%
David Backes STL C 74 27    1,201 51.71%
Kyle Turris OTT C 82 26    1,429 50.66%
Matt Duchene COL C 71 23    1,058 50.28%
Brad Richards NYR C 82 20    1,029 49.76%
Frans Nielsen NYI C 80 25    1,084 49.26%

The Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Richards) and Blues (Stastny, David Backes) have two on the list, while Colorado loses Stastny to their division rival.

As free agency continues in the coming days, and trades begin impacting rosters around the league, teams will be chasing what was done by the Central Division on Tuesday. With Ryan Kesler moving to Anaheim and Los Angeles the reigning champions, it’s clear that the West is the best in the NHL.

40 thoughts on “Central Division: Centers of Attention

  • July 1, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Stastny 4 yrs at $6.6M per year was not bad, given some of the other contracts agreed to on Tuesday. A Stastny signing would have required a Sharp trade or a combination of 27 and 8 being dealt, with minimal salary coming to the Hawks in return for either deal. Remember, 8 will have value to the Hawks as a RFA should they choose not to re-sign him after 2014-15 season. Trading him now will net nothing more than prospects or draft choices, given the present salary cap bind.

    With Richards signed it looks like shopping #32 for a draft pick and TT starting the year at Rockford puts the Blackhawks on the right side of the salary cap ledger. Hopefully $2.2 M for one year is a reasonable enough contract to net a mid-range pick in next year’s draft. SB has been known to pull a rabbit or two from his hat when it comes to trading non-core players. Absent further subtractions (Rundblad?) that will leave about $800K for a well-traveled Rockford Shuttle (Rasmussen, TT, Clendenning, Dahlbeck, Nordstrom, etc.).

  • July 2, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Again with Leddy?

  • July 2, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Moving Rosy alone isn’t enough salary to be cap compliant. Demoting TT would require a roster replacement and would put the Hawks over the cap again.

    Moving Oduya and replacing him with an 800$k D would work.
    Moving Leddy, demoting TT and then promoting any two of: Mashinter, Dahlbeck, Nordstrom, Clendening or Leblanc would also work. Once the season starts the hawks could send one down and skate a 22 man roster to gain some cap flexibility.

  • July 2, 2014 at 7:29 am

    The more that I ponder the Richards signing, the more it seems like the Hawks will be able to throw out 4 pretty good lines.

    Starting the year maybe like this maybe:


  • July 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

    It would be more likely they keep Bickell on the left… so i would think something closer to the following. Moving Oduya for a pick and bringing up Dahlbeck, while keeping TT in Rockford with the following roster would be Cap Compliant if i did my math right…

    11-16-12 (with 28-12-65 kind of interchangable)

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I would have moved Sharp or Seabs and some kids in Rockford for Stastny in a blink.

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Phil – Glad you are not the GM

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

    @Phil: I agree with you and would have traded Sharp to make Stastny happen, BUT- you never know who/what the Sharp conversations were about and IF 10 would waive his NTC. In view of unwillingness to move TT and/or Saad (understandable- in particular Saad imo), and the complications of a Sharp move, I am happy we landed Richards and believe he will be a quality #2c that we may want to keep for more than 1-yr.

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Tis the season for rumors….

    Rumor: Chicago-Ottawa Blockbuster Discussed

    “Basic parameters of deal would be: Patrick Sharp and Nick Leddy to Ottawa for Colin Greening, Zack Smith and 2013 1st round selection, Curtis Lazar. I have heard of Hawk interest in Greening and Smith now from two separate sources in the U.S. and Canada.”

    I don’t know much about Greening butthe Hawks have seemingly been after Smith for a few years and Lazar seems like a really good prospect. That being said, I don’t think I pull the trigger on this.

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Jim – wtf are you cut-and-pasting? At least throw the source URL…

    because that deal makes less than 0 sense. If Ottawa is trading away Spezza to rebuild, why the hell would they turn around and move kids for Sharp? Also, ICYMI, the Hawks have too many forwards on their NHL roster already and would likely move a defenseman for a pick/prospect at this point

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Its up on Hockeybuzz… Anytime I hear the words “NHL Rumor”, that is my first guess as the source. lol

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I don’t quite understand all the hating on Leddy………

    The kid can flat out skate! Like Keith there are few if any players that can skate around him….. It’s his reads that sometime gets him in trouble, which then results in Q sitting him…….. Not the way to build his confidence……..

    He has great offensive instincts, however he is being restrained for some reason…..

    I’ll probably get my head chopped off for suggesting this but would it be possible to transition him to center? His wheels, offensive talents and defensive experience would lead one to believe it could happen…….

    Let the beating begin……

  • July 2, 2014 at 9:57 am

    You are right Tim. It was on hockey buzz.

    Tab – I will avoid doing that in the future. My mistake

  • July 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Joey, I think Leddy has value to the Hawks as a D-Man and I would not trade him. If we have to have a D-Man QB on the powerplay, I am surprised Leddy hasn’t surpassed Keith yet on the 1st unit. Additionally, I felt Leddy’s D-Man play was much improved this year and I think he warrants a 2nd Pair, but this is the luxury the Hawks had last year is that he could skate on the 3rd pair. I also think Leddy was victimized by not having a consistent D-Man partner throughout the year. He always had his partner rotated. And it wasn’t always to give Rozy a night off…at times he would play with Seabrook, sometimes BB when he played (BB also played with Keith), and Kostka. This didn’t do Leddy many favors as he had to learn the tendencies of 3-4 partners and not just 1…he will be able to do this in the future, but needs experience which he would get by playing more. I think a Leddy and Hammer pairing would be dynamite.

  • July 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Jim, we still need a really good 2C. Richards is a band aid. Just like what we have seen the past 3 seasons since Ladd left. I think TT will really help the Hawks someday, hopefully soon. I feel Stastny would have filled the bill for now and the future. Seabs and Sharp and getting longer in the tooth. Also remember they play with REALLy good players which help make them much better players. See how good Sharp’s numbers are if he goes to another team. Same with Seabrook. I say SB can move these guys if some key holes in the team get filled. You gotta give to get.

  • July 2, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Leddy and one forward will be traded. That’s how I see it coming down. Dahlbeck or Clendening will get their NHL shot. Runblad will become the 7th defenseman.

    Oduya and Rosival leave via free agency next offseason.

    That’s how I think Stan makes the math work. Right now, I sure he’s occupied with the new Toews and Kane deals (maybe having an ulcer over the cap hits too). Once that is done, then the Leddy trade goes down is my guess.

  • July 2, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Very tough conference already, and it just got even tougher…that’s why the Hawks signing Richards and giving TT time to GROW his game is so crucial. With Toews, Richards, Shaw, Kruger and Regin we have the size, skill, speed and finesse to match up to any team including the Kings.

    As for Shaw, yes, let’s throw Andrew, who scored 20 goals in his first full rookie season, as our 3rd line Centre, down to the wing on the 4th line at $2 million/year. In your world Shaw went quickly from being a STAR 2nd line Centre in the WCFs against the Kings to mooching for minutes on the 4th line…wa-happened??? Shaw is a Centre moving forward as his DZone positioning is so good and his play is so strong in the middle of the ice.

    With Richards, the Hawks have a LOADED lineup…and Q can change or rotate personnel, and they all help to make us better, not worse. As I said day 1 this off season, Bowman would work quickly and decisively to take back the roster and fill it with players that he wants and fit our style of play.

    And there is lots of talk about Brad Mashinter being given a shot at 4th line ice time…he will have to prove that he deserves any time, and as a regular follower of the Hogs, he can’t do it…he doesn’t play a 200′ game…he’s not a fast skater and he’s slow to get started…Mashinter has always been a minus player because he’s often deep in the Offensive zone and very slow to get back on Defence…he’s been 5 years in the minors for a big reason. Plus he doesn’t know the first thing about body and stick positioning in the defensive zone…he would be a long term project for Q (which I understand Q probably gets a chubby just thinking about it) but at 25, he’s a “project” that can’t be justified.

    I see the Hawk lines as follows, with lots of rotation…


    If you look at those top 2 lines, they are 2 of the best lines in the NHL (Saad/Kane were unstoppable against the Kings with Shaw at Centre)..now add the 3rd line which were dominate last year with Regin at Centre, and replace him with Shaw, and that’s a puck possession, PHYSICAL, dominating line as well…and then the 4th line is ridiculous…Marcus Kruger is a 3rd line Centre for any other NHL team, here he leads a powerhouse 4th line. Ben Smith can field top 6 minutes, and yet he’s likely “stuck” here with his outstanding play…and the final piece is the best of fast and smart group of players. With Regin being resigned, Rasmussen being signed, Nordy playing so well last year as a rookie, it does begin to look like Bowman has 2 moves left…one to deal Oduya and one to deal Versteeg. However, if Kris stays, it will be because he’s healthy and focused, and that will only be a boon to this team.

    The great thing is that the 3rd and 4th lines will demand minutes…with Kruger/Smith, that’s not a 4th line…that’s a shut down line that should consistently get 8-10 minutes a game of 5 on 5 time…plus Kruger/Smith are your PK 1st line. The 3rd line will be physical and dominating and can change the flow of a game, so they will get 12-15 minutes of 5 on 5 time, meaning that Richards doesn’t have to skate 20+ minutes a game. With PP time, Richards should come in around 16-18 minutes per game. And all of this means that the best line in hockey (Toews) will stay fresh and dominating.

    There isn’t a team in the NHL, including the Kings that can skate these 4 lines (although the Kings are very close)…and with Crawford in goal, EVERYTHING for the Hawks next year will come down to team Defence. Keith is a 2 time Norris Trophy winner…Seabrook is an all star…Hammer would be the Norris winner if Offence wasn’t such a key part of that trophy…Leddy is MORE than ready to step into a top 4 role…and there has to be a combination of Rozy, Rundblad, Dahlbeck, Clendening and Brookbank that works as the 3rd pairing…if so, with 4 fresh lines back checking, the Hawks are not poised once again to win another Cup!!!

  • July 2, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Leddy is terrible in his own end. So tired of hearing how fast he can skate. Figure skaters can skate really fast too and they can’t win a pick battle in a corner either. Hawks will get better by subtraction if they move 8.

  • July 2, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Leddy is not horrible in his own zone…how do people feel justified making comments like these? Because you watched 2 games and some highlights??? Leddy still needs to become more consistent in his own end, for sure, but over the past 2 seasons, playing with a smorgasbord of mediocre DMen, Leddy is +30…in the NHL no less…you think Leddy has had this success because of smoke and mirrors??? Think how much better Leddy will be skating with, say, Seabrook all year long…Leddy might get traded, but I highly doubt it…he’s a valuable part of our mobile D crew and has a responsible cap #…plus he’s young and is only going to improve…

  • July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am

    While I could get the argument that sometimes Leddy gets pushed off the puck or sometimes skips it along…let’s step off the horrible ledge. What Dman doesn’t sometimes get pushed off the puck…if you have the puck, the other team wants it. Additionally, not all, but some of his skip passes should have been to a teammate who wasn’t there…Team D lagged at certain times this year. Let’s get to where we see Leddy “make” a majority of his mistakes. It is because he has to come from the other side at a diagonal to get to a puck that his partner skating straight can’t get to anymore. He isn’t in good position to receive these pucks and sometimes get crushed on a puck he never should have had to get. Going diagonal is something you sometimes have to do for your partner, I get it. Leddy’s proportion seemed high. Additionally how many “skip” passes to a D partner does Leddy make to a partner who isn’t in position that Hammer and Keith make to a partner who is there. Leddy’s D partner didn’t do him favors this year.

  • July 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Leddy is an OK player. But Leddy is also overrated, too expensive and in the context of what the Hawks have in the pipeline (Clendening, Dahlbeck, Johns) replaceable given the salary cap crunch. It’s less a value judgment on Leddy the hockey player and more a case of roster management 101.

    Oduya can skate, Oduya can move the puck and Oduya has formed a rock solid combination with Hjalmarsson. And importantly, Oduya is only got one year left on his deal.

    Also, if given a choice of who I would rather have in 2014-15 the answer would definitely be Oduya over Leddy.

  • July 2, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Our “mobile” defense also got its ass whupped by the LA Kings and had its hands overly full with the Minnesota Wild.

    Again Brad, nobody is necessarily ripping Leddy. But the fact is the Hawks have to address the salary cap and Leddy makes the obvious best sense.

  • July 2, 2014 at 11:44 am

    If you are only going to move 1 dman, you’re still over the cap if you move Leddy. Only Oduya gets you cap compliant.

  • July 2, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Oduya is who you move and is who will be moved…what you do with Leddy is move him into the top 4 and pair him with Seabrook. For a chunk of the 2013 season, Leddy-Seabrook was our BEST pairing. Leddy has a knack for being on the ice when goals are are scored for and not against…that’s a pretty good trait for a DMan. Once Leddy settles in and feels more confident in the top 4, his will rush up ice with the puck more often, creating even more scoring chances.

  • July 2, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Rufus is such a special guy. He doesn’t understand how the salary cap works, or how Bowman will almost always trade someone with a year left on their UFA deal to try to get value back from them. He says Handzus is an intengral part of the team all year, but Richards is too old and slow.

    Last year Richards had more points than Kesler while facing about equally tough competition with lower quality linemates. He also had a better relative Corsi. His PDO was below normal, probably because his shooting percentage was lower than usual and it impacted his entire line.

    Giveaways per 60:
    Hammer – 3.48
    Seabrook – 2.24
    Keith – 2.16
    Oduya – 2.02
    Leddy – 1.54


  • July 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    JS…great to “see” you back…if you are not too busy, take some time to share your thoughts on the last week with the draft and FA…thanks!

  • July 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    As pointed out yesterday, #8 has value if SB decides not to match a RFA offer sheet come next summer. Tab posted what the draft pick compensation will be for RFAs. So, why trade #8 now? Only if you are able to get significantly more in return than you expect to get if Leddy signs elsewhere next summer. And, who would necessarily overpay the Hawks right now, given Leddy’s RFA status next year?

    Do I want to see Leddy traded now, “No!”. I would much prefer a trade of #32 for the proverbial “bag of pucks” and utilize the Rockford Shuttle to make the team cap compliant.

  • July 2, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    JS – your comment was posted as I wrote mine (again). Fully agree.

  • July 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm


    Guess you didn’t see much of the hammer-oduya “you take it – no you take it” act this year….. Or their weak backhand clearing attempts that ended up in our net……

    But I take your point, at times ALL d-men are turnover machines….. just depends on when you do it…..

    IMHO Leddy has much more upside & potential than oduya……

  • July 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    @Joey, I think JS was pointing out (sarcastically), that per the stats he listed, clearly Leddy was NOT a turnover machine.. (lowest #’s of the bunch).. Most here would agree that Leddy is a guy you would prefer to keep over JO, but you have to keep your options open if a package and/or the return is significantly better for 8 vs. 27.

    @BNS- WHO is buying Rosy at $2.2 and why?

  • July 2, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    If team gave a third round pick for Bollig (who is now Calgary’s 7th highest paid forward), I could see a team trading for Rozy. I mean, he definitely has experience and a Cup so maybe a team milks him for all he’s got for his final year while reaching the cap floor. Teams needing leadership on the back end could send a 7th and do okay with him as a mentor and a 3rd D-line pairing.

  • July 2, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Negzz…exactly…the ONLY way Rozy goes is through a package deal that Bowman forces on someone…just like Tallon did to Bowman with Rusty Olesz…

  • July 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Not gonna repeat what has already been said, but Leddy has more upside just with his wheels alone.
    Oduya was soft when we needed him to be solid in to many cruchtime situations.

    As for Rosy, Stan needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat, and probably will.
    As for Versteeg, it is all on him. They gave him a second chance, he has to prove himself in order to stay. How many times I cursed the idiotbox when he shot high and wide.

  • July 3, 2014 at 12:11 am

    I’m so tired of hearing people say ” how tired they are hearing how fast Leddy is’. lol
    If they can get a important missing piece then maybe but he is an asset that we may regret letting go-
    again Leddy should stay! The player coming back at his salary won’t make us better. He’s young and will improve.

  • July 4, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Happy 4th of July!

    Wanted to comment on the Sharks magnificent addition of John Scott. Looks like their playoffs woes are a thing of the past and are favored Stanley trophy winners now.

  • July 6, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Is Raffi the rat still there also?
    What a combo of thugs.

  • July 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    If the Hawks don’t win in 2015 they ‘re done for a long awhile, Hawks had the good fortune to win two, with long term contracts for Towes and Kane the future is fuzzy at best. Hawks are not doing a great job of being an organic organization. Every year is really a re-build no matter what team you are, meaning you got to mix it up, find new chemistry, inspire, motivate and build and add new players to keep the mix in the cup. Hawks may find themselves out early next year, due to a complacent attitude, don’t get me wrong they are a solid franchise but retooling and fine tuning is an art and staying on top takes balls, not sure Hawks have it.I am impressed with the Sabers GM and trades because each year is a new year, Hawks have issues, defense needs big time help, if Lund-Quest was with Hawks he’d walk, demand a trade, defense give Crow no protection and no respect. Very weak and turn over prone lucky we have wingers that skate back and cover and cover up a weak defense except for Keith and Seabrook when he has his head in the game. Leddy should be schooled by Keith and be way better than he is.

  • July 6, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Kook, Are you from Vancouver?

  • July 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    I really meant to say Mook, but you really made me smile.

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