2018 NHL Season & Predictions: Central Division
The Central Division is the most competitive division in the Western Conference as two of the top three teams reside in the division in Nashville and Winnipeg. Three other teams will be competing for the three spot in the division for the playoffs as well as the wild cards spots with Dallas, St. Louis and Minnesota. In this article we will look at the two favorites as well as the other three competitive division and we’ll start with the favorite Nashville Predators.
The Predators are +135 to win the division, +500 to win the Western Conference and +1100 to win the Stanley Cup. Nashville finished last season in 1st place in the Central Division and won the President’s Trophy with 117 points. They were eliminated in game 7 in the second round of the playoffs last season against the Winnipeg Jets. The only difference in this year’s team vs last years is they let Mike Fisher and Alexie Emelin go. With little change with the team the Predators will remain one of the best in the conference.
The Jets are +175 to win the division, +500 to win the Western Conference and +1200 to win the Stanley Cup. Winnipeg finished last season in 2nd place in the Central division after finishing with 114 points. They were eliminated in the Western Conference Finals in 5 games to the Vegas Knights after eliminating the Avalanche and Jets in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Jets lost Joel Armia and Steve Mason in order to make room to re-sign Paul Stastny. Stastny is a great player, but it kills their depth and they may not be as good this season because of that.
The Stars are +600 to win the division, +1200 to win the Western Conference and +2500 to win the Stanley Cup. Dallas finished last season in 6th place in the Central Division and 3 points back of the second spot in the wild card. They left Greg Pateryn and Dan Hamhuis leave in the off-season to make cap space for younger and up and coming players. The Stars are likely another year or two away from making any noise in the division and challenging for the division championship.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues are +800 to win the division, +2000 to win the Western Conference and +3300 to win the Stanley Cup. St. Louis finished last season in 5th place in the Central Division and 1 point out of the final wild card spot with 94 points. The Blues signed one of the biggest free agents in Ryan O’Reilly as well as adding three other free agents in Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon and David Perron. The addition to O’Reilly gives a giant boost to the Blue offense and should solidify their chances for making the playoffs this season and should be one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
The Wild are +900 to win the division, +1500 to win the conference and +2500 to win the Stanley Cup. Minnesota finished last season in 3rd place in the division with 101 points, but were eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets in 5 games. The Wild added depth to their lineups by adding JT Brown, Eric Fehr and Greg Pateryn, but other than those signings they didn’t do much to their roster. The only way the Wild make the playoffs will be as a wild card team as there are three teams clearly better than they are.
Nashville Predators win the division
The Predators are the pick to win the division this season and even though they didn’t do anything to improve their roster they should be the clear favorite over the Jets who gave up depth to re-sign one of their best players. The Jets will still make the playoffs as the 2nd team in the division as they are behind the Wild in terms of depth. The Blues will finish in 3rd place and could place higher depending on their defense as their offense should be one of the best in the NHL. The Stars and Wild are borderline playoff teams, but I don’t think the pose a threat to the top two teams in the division.