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2023/24 NHL season: Top 10 centres

The NHL is filled with talent and in this article, we will take a look at the best players in arguably the league's most stacked position.

Here, we will be running through the top ten centres going into the 2023-24 season.

Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid has been in this league since 2015-16 and has been turning heads ever since. He is considered the best player in the league and is arguably one of, if not the, best players in NHL history.

His toolbox is full, as he has high speed, great hockey sense, and strong shooting and passing to name a few of his traits. He is on the highlight reel every single night and he has led the league in scoring in five of the past seven years.

He does all of this at a very important position. It is no surprise he comes in as the best centre in the NHL.

Leon Draisaitl - Edmonton Oilers

Next up is McDavid’s counterpart in Leon Draisaitl. He completes what is the best centerman duo in the league, and for good reason.

Draisaitl has 744 points in just 638 games, while showing one of the best goal-scoring abilities in the league.

He scored over 50 goals in each of the last two seasons, is loaded with skill and hockey IQ, and also shows a physical side to his game. The third overall pick from 2014 comes in as the second best centre heading into the 2023-24 season.

Draisaitl and McDavid play on separate lines, but they join forces on the power play. 

Naturally, the Oilers' power play led the league by a 17-goal margin and was 6% more successful than the second-best team in 2022/23, which quantifies how good the two centres are. Draisaitl, McDavid, and the team's third 100-point scorer from last season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, were on the ice for 87 of Edmonton's 89 power play goals last season.

Nathan MacKinnon - Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon has been in the league since the 2013-14 season and, after a slowish first four years, he broke out in 2017/18 and is now a force to be reckoned with as one of the best players in the entire league.

His speed and playmaking ability remains at the top of the league, as his ability to make plays at a high speed is incredible.

His talent and leadership helped his Avalanche win a Stanley Cup in 2022 and has helped solidify him as one of the best centres in the NHL.

MacKinnon enters 2023/24 coming off season highs in goals (42), assists (69), and total points (111), good enough to be among the top 10 in the league in all three categories.

Auston Matthews - Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews comes in at number four on this list of the best NHL centermen heading into this season. Everyone in the Maple Leafs franchise would like to see him fight for the top spot after they made him the league's highest-paid player this summer.

The Maple Leafs superstar has taken Toronto by storm from his first career game, when he scored four goals. He has been considered one of the top three goalscorers in the NHL after entering in 2016-17, and his status has not changed.

What has changed is his defensive ability and on-ice leadership, which is a great addition to his goalscoring and hockey IQ. As he continues to build his overall game, his status as one of the top centres continues to grow.

His goalscoring dropped a little last season, scoring 40 in 2022/23 compared to 60 goals in 2021/22, but he's surrounded by high-level talent in Mitch Marner and fellow centre William Nylander.

Fans certainly won't pay too much attention to Matthews' stats if he and his teammates can break Toronto's Stanley Cup drought.

Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins

You know the name, it is Sidney Crosby. Despite being in his mid-30s, Crosby has continued to show the same abilities that he has shown since entering the league 17 years ago.

Last year, he posted his second-most points total (93) within the past eight seasons. His offense continues to click at a very high rate as he had his seventh-career 60-assist season in 2022/23. Plus, he is strong defensively, his leadership is unmatched, and he even continues to show his underrated level of grit.

He is another centre with a full list of abilities. Crosby has deserved to be on this list of top NHL centres, and he will be on it until he retires.

Aleksander Barkov - Florida Panthers

Known as one of the most underrated players in the league, comes Aleksander Barkov for the Florida Panthers.

Barkov has been leading the Panthers as captain since 2018, and he has averaged a point per game for three straight seasons. 

He was also excellent in a deep playoff run for the Panthers last year, with 16 points in 21 playoff games and posting 24 takeaways to 17 giveaways in the postseason. 

Barkov is a solid defender with great size. He has dominated in the face-off do, and is a penalty kill expert. He has got a lot of tools.

Jack Hughes - New Jersey Devils

One of the most exciting young players in the league, Jack Hughes, is next on the list.

Hughes is breaking out at a fast pace. Every statistical career-best was reached last season.

He helped lead the New Jersey Devils to their first playoff berth since 2018, which included a first-round playoff win over the New York Rangers before a second-round loss to eventual Stanley Cup runners-up, the Florida Panthers.

In his past two seasons, Hughes has totalled 155 points in 127 games, which is an average of 1.22 points per game. Plus, he finished 12th in the league in points with 99 in his age-21 season.

 Hughes brings a high level of skill and can command an entire shift. He will be moving up the list of the NHL’s best centres as he continues to develop and improve.

Jack Eichel - Vegas Golden Knights

Jack Eichel, the 2nd overall pick in 2015 behind McDavid, is next on this list.

There has been lots of drama in Eichel’s career due to disappointing seasons in Buffalo and a neck injury.

Now, he has found a home in Vegas as he helped guide them to lift the Stanley Cup in 2022/23 by leading all players in postseason assists and points.

Even with the drama, he has proven year after year that he is a top-level talent. He is near a point per game in his career, has great size, and a goal-scoring touch.

After a tough few years, it seems likely that Eichel will produce at a much higher level and increase his greatness on a strong Golden Knights team.

Brayden Point - Tampa Bay Lightning

Next is a speedy, skilled centre in Brayden Point for Tampa Bay Lightning. Point hit the ground running in his career right off the bat, and he has not looked back.

He is typically a guarantee to average scoring just under a point per game, and he has proven himself as a goalscoring threat after finding the net 51 times this past season.

He is extremely speedy and shifty, with a great offensive sense and is becoming a more consistent all-around player as he matures.

Tage Thompson - Buffalo Sabres

To finish this list is an emerging star, who many have their eyes on. Tage Thompson has been flourishing for the Buffalo Sabres for two seasons now, but last year was incredible.

He scored 47 goals and had 94 points, so his stock is on the rise. Plus, he led the league with four hat tricks in 2022/23.

With his incredible size at 6’7", comes a lethal shot and surprisingly top-notch hands, especially in close.

This offensive dynamo will look to continue this success and, while he is still young, he is likely to remain as one of the top NHL centres.

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