When the National Hockey League gets back to business, several once-prominent centers will strive to regain their old scoring form.
The Colorado Avalanche have players in that category, Matt Duchene and Peter Stastny.
Back in 2010-11 Duchene broke out with a strong 27-goal, 40 assist season. He followed that by scoring 16 points in his first 21 games last season. But then a knee injury derailed his campaign. He worked his way back onto the ice, but produced just one assist in 12 March games. He switched trainers during the off-season, got back into top shape and then put up numbers in Europe during the lockout. It will be interesting to see how all the offensive pieces coming together in Colorado this season.
Stastny was a point-per-game scorer until the last two seasons, when he slipped to 57 and 53 points. Not surprisingly he became the subject of many trade rumors, especially with center Ryan O’Reilly on the climb. He scored just 21 points in his first 37 games last season, then picked up his production to 32 points in his last 42 games. The addition of physical winger Steve Downie for the final quarter last season (13 points in 20 games, plus-9) gave Colorado new life up front.
Here are some other centers looking to get back on track:
Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks: Remember when he was a Top 10 center in the league? That seems like a long time ago to fans in Anaheim. Getzlaf averaged 1.09 points per game during a four season span. So how does a player like that fall to 11 goals, 46 assists and a minus-11 rating? Coach Bruce Boudreau hopes to solve that riddle while trying to re-ignite this formerly explosive offense. Getzlaf scored four goals in October, then scored just seven more all season. He scored at a 54-point pace in the first half and a 61-point pace in the second half. Yeech.
Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils: He scored 25 goals, dished 42 assists and earned a plus-22 rating during the 2009-10 season, He appeared to be a star on the rise. Then he slipped to 13 goals with 31 assists and a minus-6 rating the next season and then missed most of last season after tearing his left Achilles tendon. He scored 14 points in 24 playoff games and figures to center a scoring line this season.
Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues: The departure of Jason Arnott via free agency could move the versatile Steen to center on one of the top three lines. He could also man a point on one of the power-play units. Alex scored 17 points with a plus-14 rating in his first 24 games last season, but a concussion ruined his campaign. He recovered during the offseason and spent some of his lockout time in Europe. In his previous two full seasons he scored 98 points.
Derek Roy, Dallas Stars: He was scoring at a point-per-game pace in Buffalo two seasons ago until he suffered a torn quadriceps muscle. He never got back to full speed last season as the big-budget Sabres struggled for much of the season. Roy was especially bad on the road, scoring just 16 points in 40 games while earning a minus-16 rating. Then he moved on to Dallas . . . and almost immediately underwent shoulder surgery. The lockout gave him a chance to heal and the talented Stars will give him every chance to revive his playmaking ability.
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings: After scoring 115 goals during a three-year span for the Flyers, he scored just 21 for Columbus and Los Angles last season – and six of them game in two games. He showed a bit more life during the playoffs, scoring eight times in 20 games. Perhaps flanking his buddy Mike Richards on a full-time basis will revive his finishing skills. Also, Carter makes $6 million a year. If he doesn’t pick up his play he could become the target of a compliance buyout in the next collective bargaining agreement.