Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Who is the Leafs top centre this season?
Now, as we all know the search for that all elusive top line centre has been a pretty big thorn in the side of Leafs management, and fans a-like. I was wondering the other day who is our top centre, not that i`m saying we have a number one centre, but who is the best that the Toronto Maple Leafs have.
Lets take a look at our centre's right now and see who is performing the best. First let's take a look at total point production.
So, as you can probably tell, the distance between the blue and red lines indicates point per game production, the closer they are together the better offensively. What jumps out here is that we only have 3 centre's that are putting up anything close to production. After Grabovski, the next centre in terms of point production is Steckel, he has 5 points in 30 games. Knowing this, i'm going to go out on a limb and say that our list of potential top line centres is down to three now: Bozak, Connolly and Grabovski. Pretty obvious right?
Now lets look at how they stack up in terms of per game production.
Bozak and Connolly are both scoring at a pretty nice pace, Bozak on a pro-rated 61 point pace and Connolly is on a pro-rated 58 point pace. Given the knowledge that the average for a top line centre is 70 points per year and the average for a second line centre scores 49 points, (information taken from BCapp's fine work over at Pension Plan Puppets, please read the article here) it would seem that we may have two 1B centres. But that doesn't answer the question: who is the Leafs best centre this season?
Since Bozak and Connolly are on basically equal offensive seasons (i would give the leg up to Bozak on that one as well considering he's actually put up the points) the next step is to look at defensive statistics to see who edges who out. I like to look at corsi to see how a player is driving play and limiting scoring opportunities. These are Bozak and Connolly's corsi numbers through this year so far (I explained corsi as best as i could here in my series Advanced Statistics: for dummies!).
While both centres have some fairly ugly numbers here, Connolly edges out Bozak. Not only does Connolly have a better corsi number, but the team actually plays better with him on the ice. There are a million other things you can look at to compare players, but that would take all day. Based on this set of data I think that Tim Connolly is our best centre, he`s putting up a good amount of points while not playing with the Leafs' top wingers, while also being somewhat capable defensively. On another note it looks like if we got Bozak playing with some good wingers against the proper competition, we may have a pretty solid number two centre on our hands.
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