What better division to finish off our off-season reset with than the NHL’s powerhouse Central Division? The 2021-2022 season saw five teams from the Central Division make the playoffs.
Not only that but the Central is home to the Stanley Cup Champions, the Colorado Avalanche. Congratulations to the Avs on defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in 6 games to claim their first title since 2001. To be honest, this division is loaded, and you may see five teams make the playoffs again. However, don’t expect to see anyone from this division knock the Avs off the mountain.
2022 Regular Season record: 56-19-7
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 17/4
The Champs. This Avalanche team is by far the best team we’ve seen in the past decade.
The sheer combination of speed and talent was tremendously demonstrated through the regular season and the entire playoff run. The only weakness this team had last season was their goaltending. They fixed this by going out and acquiring goalie Alexandar Georgiev from the Rangers. Georgiev is not a stud by any means, but the goaltending competition between him and Pavel Francouz will pay dividends for the defending Champs. They also extended one of their many stars from the playoff run in RW Valeri Nichushkin.
On the other hand, the biggest loss this offseason must be Andre Burakovsky and what seems to be the eventual departure of Nazem Kadri. Kadri is rumored to be signing with the New York Islanders, but as of now he remains an Av.
No one will beat this Avs team besides the Oilers next season. They will be in the Western Conference Final once again.
2022 Regular Season record: 53-22-7
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 20/1
Next comes a Minnesota Wild squad that finished only 6 points behind Colorado in the regular season. Unfortunately, their incredible season came to an abrupt end when they were bounced by their division rival, the St. Louis Blues, in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Minnesota has had a quiet offseason due to most of their top talent being locked into their contracts. Not having to worry about contracts for another year puts them in a position to make some noise next year. The biggest internal move GM Bill Guerin made this offseason is extending future Hall of Famer Marc Andre Fleury to another 3 years. Looks like Flower will be ending his career in the State of Hockey. Not a bad place to go out.
Losing forward Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings was a huge blow for the Wild. Fiala posted a career high 33 goals last season. It will be hard to match this production, but luckily for Minnesota faithful, they still have rising superstar Kirill Kaprikov. The 25-year-old forward had 47 goals and surpassed the 100-point mark for the first time in his young career.
Expect this kid to have 50+ goals next year and to lead the Wild to another stellar regular season.
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St. Louis Blues
2022 Regular Season record: 49-22-11
2023 Stanley Cup odds: 22/1
Not too much noise from St. Louis this offseason. The Blues are coming off a year in which they finished 3rd in the Central. They lost in 6 games to division rival and Stanley Cup Champion, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Blues are a talented hockey team. This offseason saw them lose David Perron after his second stint with the Blues. Perron was an integral part of the Stanley Cup run in 2019. Aside from Perron’s departure, the Blues haven’t lost much. The biggest concern here will be replacing Perron’s 27 goals from last year. Head Coach Craig Berube will have to mix the lines around, but this team has so much talent that they’ll be fine.
St. Louis will be your #2 in the Central next year but expect another second-round exit to the Colorado Avalanche. Again. Sorry Blues’ fans.
2022 Regular Season record: 46-30-6
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 35/1
If there’s one team that is happy Johnny Gaudreau left the West, it’s the Dallas Stars. The Stars lost a heartbreaking Game 7 in overtime to the Calgary Flames in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Dallas hired Peter DeBoer as their new Head Coach this offseason. DeBoer is no stranger to winning. He took both the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
This team will go as far as Defenseman Miro Heiskanen goes. Heiskanen is going to have his coming out party to the league this year. The 23-year-old defenseman will surpass the 60-point mark this season and take Dallas over the 100-point mark.
Once again, they play in the Avalanche’s division, and they definitely don’t stack up well.
They’ll finish right around the same spot again next year: 3rd or 4th in the Central.
2022 Regular Season record: 45-30-7
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 50/1
This is a stellar Nashville team. They have a top 5 defenseman in Roman Yosi. They have superstar Filip Forsberg coming off a career year where he set career highs in goals (42), assists (42), and points (84) in only 69 games. This will be the year he hits 100 points. This kid can flat out play. Oh, and he just got inked to an 8-year extension.
Nashville also went out and acquired Defenseman Ryan McDonough from Tampa Bay. This bolsters the Predators blue line immensely. They also added some depth scoring in forward Nino Neiderreiter. Neiderreiter lit the lamp 24 times last season with Carolina. He looks to bring Nashville back to the Stanley Cup next season for the first time since 2017.
Nashville got better and they are going to challenge Colorado for that top spot. However, realistically it will be between them and St. Louis dogging it out for that 2nd seed.
2022 Regular Season record: 39-22-11
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 50/1
For a year in which they didn’t make the playoffs, Winninpeg didn’t have a bad year. They were less than 10 points out of a playoff spot last season. The bad news for them is that the five teams above them are all loaded. Winnipeg may have made the playoffs if superstar Mark Scheifele didn’t go down with an injury with 9 games left.
Winnipeg is a good team that lacks depth. Until they address this issue, they will miss out on the playoffs again, and again. As top heavy as they are with Scheifele, DuBois, Wheeler and Connor, you can’t win a Championship in this league without depth. There are still some quality free agents out with the main one being Nazem Kadri. This could be a huge pickup for the Jets if the front office can swing it.
Once again, Winnipeg will miss the playoffs. Sorry Jets fans. At least you’re in a better position than that other Jets’ franchise.
2022 Regular Season record: 28-42-12
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 125/1
Growing up with the Chicago Blackhawks Dynasty in the 2010s was incredible. Even as a Flyers fan, I appreciate the greatness of the best American born player in history in Patrick Kane. This team dominated the 2010s winning 3 Stanley Cups. It is sad to see the end is finally here for this team. It has been made abundantly clear that it is time for a rebuild. Sorry Chicago, but you are about to stink.
Everyone is wondering what the heck this team is thinking. They have gotten rid of Artemi Panarin entering his prime and Alex DeBrincat, who’s a 40-goal scorer. These are two of the most notable offseason moves for this team. Also don’t be surprised when Kane and Toews aren’t rocking a red sweater in October. It’s a shame their run is officially over. Thank you to the Blackhawks organization for entertaining us for so many years.
If it wasn’t for the Arizona Coyotes organization, Chicago would be the bottom feeders in the NHL next season.
2022 Regular Season record: 25-50-7
2023 Stanley Cup Odds: 300/1
At 300/1 odds to win the Cup next year, it’s going to be another long season for the Arizona Coyotes. This team is brutal. To make matters worse, they will be playing at Arizona State University’s arena next season due to contract issues. They will play in front of a maximum crowd of 5,000 people, IF that many fans even show up.
Don’t expect much from this team next year. It is going to be a last place finish.
NHL Central Division Odds Comparison