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  • Central Division Rankings: Who Rises, Falls, and Collapses


    The cliché goes that the Central Division in the Western Conference is the Best In The League. There's a reason for it: it is. Every single team Every team not from Nashville and Winnipeg in the conference made the playoffs last year, and every team not from Nashville and Winnipeg fully expects to do so again this year. Most of the conference has aspirations of reaching the finals, and all have a chance. They each have their weaknesses (some more than others), so let's take a look!


    Biggest Questions:


    Biggest Questions:


    Biggest Questions:

    Dallas' defense leaves questions to be asked; they have no 'big name' stars on their blue line. Lehtonen is reliable... to be injured for a while. On top of his history of being hurt, Kari is far from a lights-out goalie; his 5v5 Sv% has never been fantastic, while avoiding being terrible in recent memory. Despite their scoring depth, the Stars are not sturdy in case of injury. While they have a number of capable wingers, should more than one or two be injured, the Stars will be tapping a well of players with virtually no experience in the NHL.


    Biggest Questions:


    St. Louis Blues

    Biggest Questions:


    Biggest Questions:

    The biggest question facing the Jets is: will Ondrej Pavelec improve? He only played 57 games last season, but that was far from Pavelec's first season in the NHL. He's played in at least 50% of the games in ever season since the Jets were the Thrashers, and has never posted a higher Sv% than 91.4. Unfortunately, the blue line is not particularly strong either. Moving Byfuglien back to defense could help strengthen the defensive corps, it would not likely be enough.



    1. Blackhawks
    2. Blues
    3. Wild
    4. Stars
    5. Avalanche
    6. Predators
    7. Jets

    All of this is, of course, barring injury. The Blackhawks just can't be beat. Between Toews, Kane, Sharp, Saad, Oduya, Hjalmersson... pretty much all of their players are top-notch. The Blues will come in second (unless they are as snake-bitten as the end of last season, or worse). They are big and their physicality won't be matched by the skill of other teams in the league. The distance between the Blues and the Wild, however, will be slight. The improvement on the power play, a consistently healthy Koivu and Parise, and development from young players will allow the Wild to take 3rd in the conference. If Kuemper turns out to be as good as he could be, however, this could change. The Wild and the Blues suffer from the same condition: a lack of scoring. The Stars will take fourth; their issues aren't quite worked out yet. They are a quickly rising team, and will soon be playing with the big dogs.

    The Avalanche will return to earth. Without elite goaltending again by Varlamov, their thin defensive corps will simply cost them too many goals, particularly when you remember that two of their better defensive players play for someone else nowadays. Despite their elite goalscorers, defense is a necessary part of the game; you can't win every game 5-4. The Predators and Jets will battle for the bottom. The Predators only succeed by virtue of the Jets' horrid goaltending. Ondrej Pavelec will be the downfall of Winnipeg, and they could well be a contender for the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes.


    Well, there you have it, Wilderness! What do you think? What would your placements be? Who rises, and who falls?

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