In hockey, the center is the fulcrum of the offense, serving as hockey’s version of the quarterback or point guard. They’re integral to a fluid and potent offense, making them ideally the most important players on the team. It should come as no surprise then that primary centers occupy five of the top nine spots in NHL 23 by overall rating.
Below, you will find those five centers and more in NHL 23 by their overall rating. Rosters were live rosters from game launch and it should be noted that player ratings are subject to change during the season. October 16, 2022 is when stats were pulled, so they will change as the 2022-2023 NHL season is underway. Further, only primary centers made this list and any player who plays a secondary position as a center were not included.
1. Connor McDavid (95 OVR)
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Salary: $12.500M (4 Years)
Best Attributes: 98 Passing, 98 Off. Awareness, 98 Agility
Connor McDavid, who many consider to be the best player in hockey, reigns supreme as the only player in NHL 23 rated 95 OVR. Furthermore, he’s the only player with a 98 rating in any attribute, and to top it off, he has five 98 rated attributes: Hand-Eye, Deking, Puck Control, Off. Awareness, and Agility. Basically, he’s lethal at being the main cog in an offense – he has 97 Acceleration and Speed, too – but not just in setting up his teammates and maintaining possession. The top playmakers also has 97 Writs Shot Accuracy, 94 Slap Shot Accuracy, 91 Wrist Shot Power, and 90 Slap Shot Power.
McDavid reached the Western Conference Finals during the 2022 postseason with Edmonton, but fell to eventual champion Colorado Avalanche in a sweep. The playmaker, already entering his eighth year, has career totals of 243 goals and 460 goals (703 points) in 489 games. He’s added 21 goals and 34 assists (55 points) in 37 playoff games, upping his scoring from the regular season.
2. Auston Matthews (94 OVR)
Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Salary: $11.640M (2 Years)
Best Attributes: 97 Off. Awareness, 97 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 96 Slap Shot Accuracy
The Hart Memorial Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner from the 2021-2022 season is the second-best center in the game and in a tie for the second-best player in the game alongside two others, including the next entry on the list. Matthews has 97 Off. Awareness, 97 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 96 Slap Shot Accuracy. He rounds out the Puck Skills with 95 Hand-Eye and Puck Control, 93 Passing, and 92 Deking. His other Shooting attributes include 94 Wrist Shot Power and 92 Slap Shot Power. Additionally, he also prides himself as a good skater with 90 Balance and 89 Acceleration, Agility, Endurance, and Speed. He’s a fiend with the puck and the shot, which is what you want in your center.
The cover athlete for NHL 22 is entering his seventh year as the overall top pick in the draft after McDavid. He has career totals of 260 goals and 199 assists (459 points) in 411 games. The higher goal total accounts for his Sniper archetype. In the playoffs, he’s added 17 goals and 16 assists (33 points) in 39 games. He, like other stalwarts on Canadian teams, has yet to taste a Stanley Cup championship.
3. Nathan MacKinnon (94 OVR)
Position: Center, Right Wing
Team: Colorado Avalanche
Salary: $6.300M (1 Year)
Best Attributes: 96 Off. Awareness, 95 Puck Control, 95 Acceleration
The best offensive player in NHL 23 for the reigning Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, Nathan MacKinnon could be a great target for your franchise once you hit free agency in the offseason. Impressively, MacKinnon boasts of 96 Off. Awareness, 95 Puck Control, 95 Acceleration, 95 Agility, and 95 Speed, making him a speedy skater who can still control the puck. The Playmaker is a solid shooter with 94 Wrist Shot Accuracy and 92 Slap Shot Accuracy, Slap Shot Power, and Wrist Shot Power. MacKinnon rounds out his puck abilities with 94 Deking, Hand-Eye, and Passing.
The two-time All-Star is entering his tenth season and has career totals of 244 goals and 411 assists (655 points) in 641 games. MacKinnon has added 41 goals and 52 assists (93 points) in 70 playoff games, culminating with the playmaker and Colorado hoisting the Stanley Cup after the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals.
4. Leon Draisaitl (93 OVR)
Position: Center, Left Wing
Team: Edmonton Oilers
Salary: $8.500M (3 Years)
Best Attributes: 97 Off. Awareness, 95 Puck Control, 95 Wrist Shot Accuracy
Leon Draisaitl is another great center who inspires hope alongside McDavid for Edmonton Oilers to help them break Canada’s Stanley Cup drought sooner than later. Draisaitl is another Sniper that can also control an offense, as expected of centers. With McDavid working the puck mostly in Edmonton, that frees up Draisaitl to play the wing and score more, spelling McDavid when necessary. Draisaitl carries 97 Off. Awareness, 95 Puck Control, 95 Wrist Shot Accuracy. His puck abilities round out with 94 Hand-Eye and Passing and 93 Deking. His shooting abilities include 94 Slap Shot Accuracy and 92 Slap Shot Power and Wrist Shot Power. If you are considering poaching him to your franchise, you can have him be the offensive leader or play more of a scoring role on the wing.
Draisaitl has career totals of 255 goals and 367 assists (622 points) in 561 games. Entering his tenth season, he’s also added 18 goals and 41 assists (59 points) in 37 playoff games. Draisaitl exploits in the game saw him winning the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Ross Trophy, and the Lindsay Award after the 2019-2020 season.
5. Sidney Crosby (93 OVR)
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Salary: $8.700M (3 Years)
Best Attributes: 95 Poise, 94 Hand-Eye, 94 Def. Awareness
The 35-year-old Sidney Crosby still stands his ground as one of the best players, not just centers, in NHL 23 even as he enters his eighteenth season. Crosby’s best attributes are his 95 Poise, 94 Hand-Eye, 94 Passing, 94 Def. Awareness, 94 Stick Checking, and 94 Off. Awareness. Despite playing for a long time now, he is still fantastic with the puck as he rounds out those attributes with 93 Deking and Puck Control. The Playmaker still rates highly as a shooter too, with 91 Slap Shot Accuracy, Slap Shot Power, Wrist Shot Accuracy, and 90 Wrist Shot Power. Crosby is a smooth skater with 91 Balance, 90 Acceleration, Agility, and Speed, and 88 Endurance.
The veteran has 519 goals and 896 assists (1,415 points) in 1,111 games. He’s added 71 goals and 130 assists (201 points) in 71 playoff games, having reached the ultimate prize with Pittsburgh three times with 2017 the most recent.
6. Aleksander Barkov (92 OVR)
Archetype: 2 Way Forward
Team: Florida Panthers
Salary: $10.000M (8 Years)
Best Attributes: 95 Def. Awareness, 94 Stick Checking, 93 Passing
Aleksander Barkov is the best player in NHL 23 for the Presidents’ Trophy winner Florida Panthers. The 2 Way Forward has good defense with 95 Def. Awareness, 94 Stick Checking, 89 Shot Blocking, and crucially, 87 Faceoffs. Additionally, Barkov is also good on the other side with 93 Off. Awareness, Passing, and Puck Control to go along with 91 Deking, Hand-Eye, Slap Shot Power, Wrist Shot Power, and 90 Slap Shot Accuracy and Wrist Shot Accuracy. He’s a player who won’t wilt under pressure or find himself losing his composure with his 90 Discipline and Poise.
Barkov won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy after the 2018-2019 season and the Frank J. Selke Trophy after the 2020-2021 season. So far, Barkov played 67 games during the 2021-2022 season, scoring 39 goals and assisting 49 others (88 points). In the playoffs, he added two goals and five assists (seven points) in ten games as the team with the most wins during the regular season were beaten by Tampa Bay in the second round in an unceremonious sweep.
7. Evgeni Malkin (90 OVR)
Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Salary: $6.100M (4 Years)
Best Attributes: 95 Poise, 93 Deking, 93 Passing
Another longtime Pittsburgh Penguin, Evgeni Malkin, is entering his seventeenth year with the team and is still one of the best centers NHL 23 has to offer. Malkin is composed with the puck with 95 Poise, 93 Deking, Passing, Puck Control, and 90 Hand-Eye. To top it off, he is also a great shooter with 92 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Power to go along with 90 Slap Shot and Wrist Shot Accuracy. Malkin can hold his own defensively with 88 Stick Checking, 87 Def. Awareness, and 82 Shot Blocking.
The three-time champion and 2011-2012 Hart Memorial Trophy winner has career totals of 447 goals and 703 assists (1,150 points) in 984 games. During the playoffs, Malkin has added 67 goals and 113 assists (180 points) in 177 games.
8. Steven Stamkos (90 OVR)
Position: Center, Right Wing
Team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Salary: $8.500M (2 Years)
Best Attributes: 94 Acceleration, 94 Slap Shot Power, 93 Agility
Steven Stamkos rounds out the list as the last center rated 90 OVR or better. The two-time champion has two attributes at 94 – Acceleration and Slap Shot Power – then a stack of 93 attributes like Deking, Passing, Puck Control, Off. Awareness, and Agility. Additionally, Stamkos also has 92 Speed, Slap Shot Accuracy, and Wrist Shot Power, plus 90 Hand-Eye, Poise, and Wrist Shot Accuracy. He can control the puck or score with the best of them.
Stamkos and the Lightning just missed a third consecutive Stanley Cup championship as they lost in six games to the Avalanche in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals. The veteran entering his fifteenth year has played 925 games, scoring 485 with 492 assists (977 points). In the playoffs, Stamkos has added 43 goals and 48 assists (91 points) in 117 games.
All of the best center in NHL 23
Below, you’ll find the best centers in NHL 23. Each listed center has at least an 89 OVR rating.
|Connor McDavid||95||25||Center||Playmaker||Left||Edmonton Oilers||$11.875M (4 Years)||98 Passing, 98 Off. Awareness, 98 Agility|
|Auston Matthews||94||25||Center||Sniper||Left||Toronto Maple Leafs||$11.375M (2 Years)||97 Off. Awareness, 97 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 96 Slap Shot Accuracy|
|Nathan MacKinnon||94||27||Center, Right Wing||Playmaker||Right||Colorado Avalanche||$6.300M (1 Year)||96 Off. Awareness, 95 Puck Control, 95 Acceleration|
|Leon Draisaitl||93||26||Center, Left Wing||Sniper||Left||Edmonton Oilers||$7.990M (3 Years)||97 Off. Awareness, 95 Puck Control, 95 Wrist Shot Accuracy|
|Sidney Crosby||93||35||Center||Playmaker||Left||Pittsburgh Penguins||$8.555M (3 Years)||95 Poise, 94 Hand-Eye, 94 Def. Awareness|
|Aleksander Barkov||92||27||Center||2 Way Forward||Left||Florida Panthers||$9.615M (8 Years)||95 Def. Awareness, 94 Stick Checking, 93 Passing|
|Steven Stamkos||90||32||Center, Right, Wing||Playmaker||Right||Tampa Bay Lightning||$8.500M (2 Years)||94 Acceleration, 94 Slap Shot Power, 93 Agility|
|Evgeni Malkin||90||36||Center||Playmaker||Left||Pittsburgh Penguins||$5.975M (4 Years)||95 Poise, 93 Deking, 93 Passing|
|Jack Eichel||89||25||Center||Playmaker||Right||Vegas Golden Knights||$9.895M (4 Years)||94 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 92 Off. Awareness, 92 Puck Skills|
|Anze Kopitar||89||35||Center||2 Way Forward||Left||Los Angeles Kings||$10.000M (2 Years)||92 Def. Awareness, 92 Stick Checking, 91 Strength|
|Patrice Bergeron||89||37||Center||2 Way Forward||Right||Boston Bruins||$2.420M (1 Year)||96 Def. Awareness, 93 Faceoffs, 93 Stick Checking|
|Sebastian Aho||89||25||Center, Left Wing||2 Way Forward||Left||Carolina Hurricanes||$8.915M (2 Years)||93 Passing, 92 Puck Control, 92 Slap Shot Accuracy|
|Brayden Point||89||26||Center, Right Wing||Playmaker||Right||Tampa Bay Lightning||$9.500M (8 Years)||93 Agility, 93 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 92 Deking|
|Dylan Larkin||89||26||Center, Left Wing||Playmaker||Left||Detroit Red Wings||$6.100M (1 Year)||93 Acceleration, 93 Speed, 92 Off. Awareness|
|Mark Scheifele||89||29||Center||Playmaker||Right||Winnipeg Jets||$6.125M (2 Years)||93 Wrist Shot Accuracy, 92 Deking, 92 Off. Awareness|
Now you know of all of the best centers in NHL 23, from McDavid to Stamkos and more. Which center will be the one for your franchise?
You can also check out our list of the best playmakers in NHL 23.
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