NHL centers have to do it all.
They control the puck and the pace. At any given moment, they can be crashing the net, or be on the boards. They’re shadowing the play, supporting their teammates, defending their end and leading the transition out of their own zone. They’re often expected to be the most defensively responsible forward on the ice – while simultaneously contributing in the offensive end.
It almost seems unfair to ask a center to display all those attributes with just one stick — almost like asking a golfer to play all his shots with a five-iron. But across the NHL, centers are using the sticks that help them make all the plays — or that maximize their ability to make the plays that keep them in the league.
GearGeek has done the research, tracking the sticks used across the NHL by essentially every player. The results for centers cut a fascinating swath across the range of products available to the pros — and to amateur players looking to mirror the approach of their favorite NHL stars.
There are numerous ways to parse popularity when it comes to hockey sticks used in the NHL. For instance:
- CCM is the most popular brand in the league, with 35 percent of the market using one of more than a dozen CCM models currently getting ice time. But Warrior has the single most popular model — the Alpha QX — used by 115 players at last count.
- For centers, CCM edges toward a 36 percent market share, while the Alpha QX maintains its status as the most popular single stick. But Bauer’s two most popular sticks together account for nearly a quarter of the total market, something no other company’s top two twigs can claim.
- Indeed, though there are 22 models from six different companies currently used by NHL centers, just four models account for fully 50 percent of the sticks in use.
- Yet, there’s room for disagreement at the top. Among the league’s top 10 center men — as determined by an com poll of NHL Network analysts — seven different stick models are being put into play.
The Survey Says …
With information gleaned from more than 200 current active-roster NHL centers, GearGeek determined these are the top five sticks used by NHL centers:
1- Alpha QX (Warrior); 15.4 percent: The league’s most popular stick among forwards and defenders alike, it has a low kick point better suited to quick shots and torsional stiffness designed for accuracy. Nicklas Bäckström, Washington’s all-time assists leader, uses it.
2- Nexus 1N (Bauer); 13.5 percent: A mid-kick stick, the Nexus 1N generates a little more power than a low-kick stick and is considered a more all-around play choice. Toronto’s Auston Matthews is one of the league’s brightest young stars and a Nexus user.
3- Supreme 1S (Bauer); 11.0 percent: This is a power player’s stick. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, who once fired a slap shot through a football goal post from 91 yards, uses it.
4- Ribcor Trigger ASY (CCM); 10.1 percent: Ultra-low kick, super-quick release. Bruins co-captain David Krejčí uses the Trigger ASY.
5- Ribcor Trigger 2 PMT (CCM); 7.7 percent: CCM touts increased feel in the newest edition of its highly popular Ribcor line, noted for its low kick and quick release. John Tavares of the New York Islanders carries the Trigger 2 PMT.
Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online hockey shop that offers pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.