My First FanPost, sorry if there is something wrong with it
Let's assume for the moment that our top to centers are Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias. Most Devils fans love the chemistry between Travis Zajac and Zach Parise, but I'm going to try and make the case for Elias being Parise's center. First, I'd like to remind people of the 2008-2009 season. Parise and Elias both played on different lines at even strength. However, Brent Sutter had them playing together in all 4 on 4 situations, including OT, and on the power play.
Elias had a great season, putting up 31-47-78 in 77 games. Parise was great as well, 45-49-94. I don't know the stats for 4 on 4 play, but I remember quite well that the Elias Parise combo was very dominant. Also, Parise and Elias had 14 and 12 goals on the power play. Notice that the next season, in which Elias was injured frequently and missed a lot of time, Parise's power play goals drop to 9. I do have stats for OT 4 on 4, but not regulation 4 on 4 and in OT, Parise had 3 goals and Elias had 1. The next season, Parise played with Zajac in 4 on 4 and OT (an interesting change I think few people noticed) and only produced 1 OT goal. So, that's a 7 goal drop without factoring in 4 on 4. Coincidentally, Parise had 38 goals that year, add 7 and he's back to 45.
It's really amazing that Elias was able to put up the numbers he did considering his complete lack of a center. But, it makes more sense when you look closer at how he did it. Of his 31 goals 2 came via empty net, 1 came in OT, 12 on the PP and 2 came as shorties. So, he only scored 14 legitimate goals with his regular line mates.
I think that based on their dominate 4 on 4 play (which I have very little statistical evidence for since I don't know how to get it) and also the growing chemistry between Zajac and Kovalchuk, I think it makes sense for Elias to be Parise's center, they both seem to benefit from each other. What do you think?