Fantasy NHL

2012-13 top-10 fantasy center rankings

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was so good in the first three months of the season that even with a broken jaw keeping him out for all of April, he still finished tied for third in points.

Art Ross Trophy winner Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning didn't pass Crosby until April 24, and St. Louis' teammate Steven Stamkos moved into second in the final game of the regular season.

All told, Crosby produced 56 points in just 36 games, which extrapolates to 128 points in an 82-game season.

He heads our 2012-13 end-of-season top-10 fantasy center rankings.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins - If Crosby played a full season of 48 games and maintained his scoring pace, he would have finished with 75 points and won the Ross Trophy by 15 points over St. Louis. He finished with 15 goals, 41 assists, 124 shots on goal (SOG) and a +26. It was tough on fantasy owners not having him during a crucial stretch of the season, but his dominance when he was healthy was more than enough to offset his absence, even for head-to- head league owners who didn't rely on statistical accumulation.

2. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning - Stamkos' goals-per-game average was down slightly from 2011-12, but he raised his assists average from 0.45 per game to 0.58 per game and posted an identical points-per-game (ppg) average to last season (1.18 ppg). He ended up with 29 goals, 57 points, 32 penalty minutes (PIM), 18 power-play points (PPP) and 157 SOG. Stamkos hasn't missed a game over the last four seasons after sitting out just three in his rookie year.

3. Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes - Buoyed by the addition of Alexander Semin to his line, Staal recorded his best ppg average since 2005-06, putting up 18 goals and 53 points in 48 games. Staal was a consistent force, averaging at least 1.0 ppg in all four months. He added 54 PIM, a +5 differential and 152 SOG.

4. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings - In Zetterberg's first season with the captain's "C" on his chest, he made sure Detroit's playoff streak didn't end at 21 seasons, willing them to the West's seventh seed with two goals and 10 points over the final four games (all wins). Zetterberg had 11 goals, 37 assists, 18 PIM, a +2, 23 PPP and 173 SOG in 46 games.

5. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks - Toews was one of two players in the NHL who had at least 20 goals, 20 assists and a +20 in 2012-13, as he put up 23 goals, 25 assists, a +28, 27 PIM and 143 SOG. The only area in which he was lacking was power-play points; Chicago tied for 22nd in power-play chances and 19th in power-play percentage, and Toews had just six points with the man advantage.

6. Mike Ribeiro, Washington Capitals - The Capitals led the NHL in power-play goals, and Ribeiro was a big part of their attack. In his first season in Washington, the veteran tied for the league lead in PPP with teammate Alex Ovechkin with 27 apiece. Ribeiro picked his spots carefully, taking only 63 SOG, but he still scored 13 goals. He also ranked fifth in the NHL with 36 assists and spent 53 minutes in the penalty box.

7. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks - It looks like 2011-12, when Getzlaf had 11 goals and 57 points in 82 games, will go down as the aberration for the Ducks center. Getzlaf has produced more than 1.0 ppg in each of his other five seasons since 2007-08. That includes 2012-13, when he scored 15 goals and had 49 points in 44 games. Getzlaf also had a +14, 41 PIM, 15 PPP and 99 SOG.

8. John Tavares, New York Islanders - Tavares finished third in the NHL in goals behind Ovechkin and Stamkos with 28, and eighth in the NHL with 162 SOG. But his assist average declined from 0.61 per game to 0.40 per game (19 in 48 games), and he had a -2 differential and just 18 PIM. That should explain why he doesn't rank higher on our list.

9. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings - Datsyuk does it all -- he handles the puck as well as any player in the NHL, as Logan Couture can attest, scores, defends and wins faceoffs at one of the top rates in the league. Datsyuk had 15 goals, 34 assists, a +21 differential, 14 PIM, 16 PPP and 107 SOG in 47 games this season.

10. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers - In his first season as Philadelphia's captain, Giroux started slowly with just seven points over his first 13 games, but he had 10 goals and 41 points in his last 35 games of the season. Giroux ended the season with 13 goals, 48 points, 22 PIM, 21 PPP and 137 SOG, but his -7 differential held him back slightly.

Biggest bargain: Ribeiro - With center Nicklas Backstrom penciled in on the top line, fantasy owners didn't pay much attention to Ribeiro. He was drafted at an average draft position (ADP) of 127.4. However, he took advantage when coach Adam Oates split up Ovechkin and Backstrom for half the season, and, as we mentioned above, was a tremendous performer on the power play.

Biggest bust: David Backes, St. Louis Blues - Evgeni Malkin (Yahoo! ADP: 1.9), Jason Spezza (21.4) and Patrick Sharp (28.4) underwhelmed, but it was due to injuries in all three cases so we can't call any of them the biggest bust among centers this season. Backes, on the other hand, played all 48 games, so he's fair game. He had 24 goals, 54 points, a +15, 101 PIM and 234 SOG last season, so fantasy owners understandably grabbed him at an ADP of 45.8 in Yahoo! leagues. This season, Backes had just six goals, 28 points, a +5 and 100 SOG. Assists (22) and PIM (62) were the only categories in which he wasn't a disappointment.

05/09 17:59:22 ET