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Is Mika a Top-Three Center in the League?


Valriera

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We know he’s good. His stats are good. Everything is good about this guy. How good is he? I didn’t think about it until the playoffs but this guy really doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Sure, he’s referred to as a legit 1c but I think you have to go further. He’s got to be top 3. He’s better than Draisaitl. Is he better than McDavid? He’s got to be in the conversation. Yes I know highlight reels and ability to skate through whole teams, but what we’ve seen from this guy last two years is someone who dominates the game in all situations and is one of the better centers in his own zone too. 
 

Even writing this feels weird but Mika honestly checks all the boxes. He’s got the points, he dominates the game, he plays everywhere, and he makes his line mates better. Why does it feel weird? Where does he fall amongst centers in the league?

Edited by Valriera
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  • Valriera changed the title to Is Mika a Top 3 Center in the League?

He's amazing and he's somehow still a bit underrated, but top 3 is too much. He's not McDavid, Mackinnon or Matthews, but he's right behind. You can still put Crosby ahead of Mika aswell, but after that I think Mika has a fair argument. He's arguably a top 5 center right now and he's atleast top 10.

 

I said in pre season that I think this will be the year of Mika. No more passing up scoring chances to pass it to Kreids, it's Mika takeover time! 50/50/100 is possible.

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It remains to be seen. The only thing holding him back is that he hasn’t been able to put everything all together for a full season yet. He’s been a slow starter, which has been talked about. But as far as tools in the toolbox goes, the guy has it all. When he’s in top gear, like he was last night, he is an absolute freak. And what makes it even better is that he’s not a one trick pony; he can defend the hell out of you and win faceoffs and play responsible hockey.

 

He came out last night like he has a bone to pick with someone and something. One of these years, he’s gonna put everything together. He’s fully capable of having one of those monster 50+ goal seasons with 100+ points. And whenever that happens, you’ll see him get the full respect he’s due.

 

If he rolls the way he did last night most of the year this season and he stays healthy, he may be ready to explode.

Edited by RichieNextel305
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20 minutes ago, RichieNextel305 said:

It remains to be seen. The only thing holding him back is that he hasn’t been able to put everything all together for a full season yet. He’s been a slow starter, which has been talked about. But as far as tools in the toolbox goes, the guy has it all. When he’s in top gear, like he was last night, he is an absolute freak. And what makes it even better is that he’s not a one trick pony; he can defend the hell out of you and win faceoffs and play responsible hockey.

 

He came out last night like he has a bone to pick with someone and something. One of these years, he’s gonna put everything together. He’s fully capable of having one of those monster 50+ goal seasons with 100+ points. And whenever that happens, you’ll see him get the full respect he’s due.

 

If he rolls the way he did last night most of the year this season and he stays healthy, he may be ready to explode.

If he keeps playing like he did last night, he will make up for Kreider falling back to earth this year. If CK20 replicates last year, we will have one of the top lines in the league. Kakko looked GOOOODDDD on that line. Let them grow! Exciting times for Mika and the team. 

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NHL.com made a top 20 centers list before the season, had Mika at #10.

 

https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-current-players-ranked-top-20-centers/c-335232368

 

Quote

10. Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers

Zibanejad had NHL career highs in assists (52), points (81), power-play points (28) and plus-minus rating (plus-30) in 81 games last season. The 29-year-old also led Rangers forwards in average ice time per game (19:38), including 2:59 on the power play and 1:50 while shorthanded. A seven-time 20-goal scorer, Zibanejad had 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 20 playoff games to help New York advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

"If you were to put this question to Chris Kreider, 'Why on Earth did you get 52 goals this year?', the first two words out of his mouth would be, 'Mika Zibanejad," Grimson said. "Big, rangy center, another guy that drives the tempo, and I don't know if there's a person playing this position today that drives the net as well as big No. 93 does. Really, really rangy. A great knack for the net, great distributor, and again, one of those big bodies that just really pushes the tempo."

They have him behind Aho (I think Mika's better), Bergeron (Mika's better today), Stamkos (arguable) and then Barkov, Crosby, Drai, Mackinnon, Matthews and McDavid.

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  • Phil changed the title to Is Mika a Top-Three Center in the League?

The thing with rankings like that is that there’s typically a short list and a particular player’s position on that list is fluid. 
 

Id put him on the short list for certain.

I can’t put him in front of other guys that are obvious.

I would argue that during the 15 game stretch he had in 2020 just before the pandemic, he may have been the best center in hockey for that span. 

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35 minutes ago, Phil said:

 

This. Top-Three in the league? No way. Unless McD, MacK, and Matthews have all stopped existing.

McD/MacK sure but I put him right by Mathews. How many of these guys kill penalties? Play as strong a two way game? Matthews can score better than anyone sure but is he really that much better? I don’t know I just don’t see it.

 

croaby I can buy who throughout his career has made lesser players around him better that’s something mika can’t really say so I suppose I put him above 

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47 minutes ago, Zuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc said:

NHL.com made a top 20 centers list before the season, had Mika at #10.

 

https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-current-players-ranked-top-20-centers/c-335232368

 

They have him behind Aho (I think Mika's better), Bergeron (Mika's better today), Stamkos (arguable) and then Barkov, Crosby, Drai, Mackinnon, Matthews and McDavid.


I think he slots in that Stamkos/Barkov/Crosby conversation.

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31 minutes ago, rmc51 said:


I think he slots in that Stamkos/Barkov/Crosby conversation.

 

No, not yet. He's a tier below them.

 

McDavid/Mac/Matthews

Drai/Barkov/Crosby, probably Bergeron

Then the Aho, Zibanejad, Scheifele, Tavares, Backstrom Kuznetsov range - guys that have all been around a ppg the last few seasons, but are not the top tier guys.

 

Guys like Robert Thomas and Matt Duchene outproduced Zibanejad last season, for comparison. You also have JT Miller, Kadri, Reinhardt, Hintz, Lindholm, and a few others doing the same. Not to mention for Couturiers and O'Reillys.

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50 minutes ago, rmc51 said:

I think he slots in that Stamkos/Barkov/Crosby conversation.

 

Maybe, yeah. Or right below them. Stamkos and Crosby have championships to separate themselves. I'd say he compares with Barkov favorably, though.

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18 minutes ago, josh said:

 

 

No, not yet. He's a tier below them.

 

McDavid/Mac/Matthews

Drai/Barkov/Crosby, probably Bergeron

Then the Aho, Zibanejad, Scheifele, Tavares, Backstrom Kuznetsov range - guys that have all been around a ppg the last few seasons, but are not the top tier guys.

 

Guys like Robert Thomas and Matt Duchene outproduced Zibanejad last season, for comparison. You also have JT Miller, Kadri, Reinhardt, Hintz, Lindholm, and a few others doing the same. Not to mention for Couturiers and O'Reillys.

But none of those guys went to the third round of the playoffs and were among the third leading goal scorers.

 

His playoff performance last year really put him on an upward trajectory into the next category. 

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11 minutes ago, Phil said:

 

Maybe, yeah. Or right below them. Stamkos and Crosby have championships to separate themselves. I'd say he compares with Barkov favorably, though.

He’s got a better 2-way game than Stamkos has ever had.

Stamkos is somewhat of a tweener to me too. He’s spent a good deal of time on the wing.

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2 hours ago, Long live the King said:

Technically he is coming off a career year with highs of 52 assists and 81 points.

 

But last night he looked like pre-COVID Zibanejad.  Incase you don't remember, pre-COVID Zibanejad had 41 goals and 75 points in 57 games before the season was cut short.

 

He has a shot to be top 5 in goals, points, and Selke voting this year.

 

Yeah I'd say post-COVID Zibanejad was a fringe top-10 C in the NHL. But pre-COVID Zibanejad (which he very well could return to this season with 40G+ / 50A+) coupled with his playoff performance and everything he does away from the puck has him tickling the discussion of a top-5 C in the NHL. 

Edited by Karan
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On 10/12/2022 at 11:50 AM, Karan said:

 

Yeah I'd say post-COVID Zibanejad was a fringe top-10 C in the NHL. But pre-COVID Zibanejad (which he very well could return to this season with 40G+ / 50A+) coupled with his playoff performance and everything he does away from the puck has him tickling the discussion of a top-5 C in the NHL. 

 

This was the kind of goal we didn't really see from post-Covid Zibanejad, that I hope he can get back to this season:

 

 

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