How do you build a winner in the NHL today? You could start with an elite netminder like Henrik Lundqvist, or a deep and versatile defense like Boston's. Nothing wrong with those choices. But if the action this summer reveals anything, it's that strength down the middle is the defining characteristic of a championship-caliber club.
Watch the peerless group of four centers that were dressed by the Kings on their way to the Stanley Cup last season and it's clear that's where other teams struggled to keep pace.
The response this summer has been dramatic. Teams that didn't quite match up sacrificed treasure or futures to fill their gaps. The Ducks added former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler to back up Ryan Getzlaf. The Blackhawks found just enough cap room to sign Brad Richards to create magic with Patrick Kane. The Stars imported Jason Spezza to support Tyler Seguin.
All that action has created a shift in the balance of power.
So, who's on top now? We looked at the presumptive top-four centers on each team—with the understanding that some players will move in and out of the position—to see which club will dress the most impactful group of pivots in the coming season.