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Calgary Flames: Is Sean Monahan the 20th best center?

Realistically, there are plenty of centers that are certainly better than Sean Monahan. No one will argue the greatness of Connor McDavid, who was the top center in the rankings, Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, John Tavares, or Auston Matthews. Some of the players farther back, however, are the biggest questions that I have.

The highest player in the rankings that that I feel Monahan could best is Steven Stamkos. There is no denying that Stamkos has been a centerpiece for Tampa Bay’s success in this decade, but the “if healthy” tag hurts his case. He cruised through the NHL until after the lockout-shortened season. He has since dealt with two significant injuries, the second of which halted last season to just 17 games played. Even without the injuries, his numbers are significantly lower than they were during his first four seasons, meaning he may have reached his peak a little too soon. Until Stamkos can prove he is not declining at the age of 27, Monahan may have the upper hand because of his value to the Flames and his potential to build on his 58 points from last season.

I also questioned the Los Angeles centers because I feel their rankings were based on merit. Any player, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar in this case, who wins two Stanley Cups in three seasons are bound to gain some popularity, especially in the City of Angels. Based on current rankings, however, last season should not have done these players any favors. Carter had an incredible season, and he probably should have been higher than 18th on the list, but Kopitar was not as spectacular. While he had a great assist total, he had a hard time finding the net. His 12 goals were his lowest in any season outside of the lockout-shortened season, and he is now 30 year old for a team that will continue to struggle offensively. Is that really worthy of being higher than the top scoring threat for Calgary?

The biggest confusion, however, was Ryan Johansen. His expectations were high coming out of the 2010 Draft, and he has met them on three occasions. It did not help, however, that he ended up in John Tortorella’s doghouse and was subsequently traded to a pedestrian offense in Nashville (at the time). He deserves credit for being a huge part of Nashville’s playoff run, but he may be known more for his tussle and choice words for Ryan Kesler. Add on the fact that the Predators signed him to an eight-year, $ 64 million contract over the summer, and the NHL is looking at a player who is being paid top dollar despite not always being the best on his team. The “overrated” label could come soon, especially since the Predators have proven their worth in the Western Conference.

Yardbarker: NHL