The NHL Network ranked Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby as the second best center in the NHL and teammate Evgeni Malkin as the third best pivot on the annual series, Top 20 Centers Right Now. Crosby, the two-time Hart Trophy winner, and three-time Stanley Cup winner finished behind Edmonton Oiler’s savior Connor McDavid. McDavid won the Art Ross trophy last season with a late burst which helped him surpass Malkin.
Malkin’s third-place finish was one spot ahead of Toronto Maple Leafs star, Auston Matthews.
The list was compiled by the network and hosted by Tony Luftman, E.J. Hradek, and NHL veteran Mike Johnson. Johnson, who played with Arizona, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Montreal, and St. Louis called Malkin, “the most talented player I’ve ever been on the ice with.”
Last season, Malkin scored 42 goals, the third time in his career he broke the 40-goal mark, and had 56 assists (98 points). He had not exceeded 72 points since his 109 point outburst in 2011-12. Malkin, 32, is signed through 2021-22 at a $9.5 million average annual cap hit.
Crosby, 30, finished his second consecutive 89 point season (29g, 60a). Crosby has scored between 84 and 89 points in each of the past four seasons. In 2017-18, Crosby did so despite shepherding young wingers such as Jake Guentzel, Dominik Simon, and for eight games, Daniel Sprong. Hradek said of Crosby, “He does everything, that’s why it’s hard to put him behind anybody.”
Crosby is signed through 2024-25 with a team-friendly $8.7 million cap hit.
Matthews was the fourth-ranked center and Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon was fifth.