Thread: Injury Report: Koivu (Returning To Lineup 3/22)
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02-21-2012, 11:33 AM
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Back to the #1 center definition, here's my take:

I don't like defining a #1 center as "would he be a #1 center on any team". Nobody would be the #1 center for the Penguins except Crosby. And then you get into "who's better, Datsyuk or Crosby" nonsense.

I also don't like defining a #1 center as a top scorer on the PP. Some guys get tons of minutes on the PP and their team gets a lot more chances. Even strength play to me is much more important.

Playing in "all situations" doesn't really seem like a good definition either. There are PP and PK specialists, but being the #1 center implies you have four lines and this is the best option at center, not when you have two forwards out on the ice killing a penalty. Ovechkin doesn't play on the PK but that doesn't not make him a top line winger (or at least back when he was awesome).

So I'd propose a #1 center would be considered roughly a top 30 scorer at even strength. Give or take a few spots, maybe push it to top 45.

Alternately, you could look at even strength scoring standards and compare a player to that. Post-lockout, here are the rough even strength PPG of the ~30th scoring centers:

2005-06 ~ 0.41
2006-07 ~ 0.43
2007-08 ~ 0.45
2008-09 ~ 0.48
2009-10 ~ 0.46
2010-11 ~ 0.48
2011-12 ~ 0.46

It's fairly consistent...about 0.45 points per game at even strength. Here are Koivu's stats:

2005-06 ~ 0.35
2006-07 ~ 0.39
2007-08 ~ 0.51
2008-09 ~ 0.44
2009-10 ~ 0.53
2010-11 ~ 0.55
2011-12 ~ 0.44

Actually he's been pretty much a #1 center since his sophomore year. This year he has not been as productive, but he's been in and out quite a bit.

So I can concede my point...he does fit my criteria for a #1 center in terms of even strength point production. I still think he needs to show he can stay healthy and I'm not happy with his reclusive attitude towards the media and fans during the losing stretches, but I'll happily drop my "not a #1 center" argument.

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