NHL Central Division Preview

Story posted October 17, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Nolan Wick

The 2021-22 NHL season is finally upon us, with games beginning this week. The divisions are back to normal after temporary realignments for last season due to the pandemic. It should be a fun hockey season with most aspects returning to normalcy, so let’s preview the Central division.

Arizona Coyotes:

This is Arizona’s first season in the division, as it was realigned due to the Seattle Kraken. The roster looks much different as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Darcy Kuemper are no longer Coyotes.

Phil Kessel might have a good season, but the Coyotes are unlikely to be good.

Prediction: seventh place

Chicago Blackhawks:

With Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, the Blackhawks will be decent. The arrival of Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights keeps Chicago in a stable goaltending situation following Corey Crawford’s retirement.

The Blackhawks, however, are not ready to make the playoffs and contend yet.

Prediction: sixth place

Colorado Avalanche:

Colorado is the favorite to win this division. Colorado is by far the most talented team, with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, and more on the roster.The Avalanche should not only win the division but should be in the mix for the Stanley Cup as well.

Prediction: first place

Dallas Stars:

Dallas has much of the same roster as it did when it made the 2020 Stanley Cup finals. Could the Stars win the Western Conference for the second time in three years? With Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, and Tyler Seguin around, Dallas could compete. However, it probably isn’t too likely.

Prediction: fifth place

Minnesota Wild:

Although Kirill Kaprizov is a great player, the Wild shouldn’t be very good this season.

Minnesota lacks the necessary depth to be a playoff team and will probably have one of the worst records in hockey.

Prediction: eighth place

Nashville Predators:

There is plenty of reason to believe that Nashville will once again contend for the division and make the playoffs.

Led by one of the best defensemen in hockey in captain Roman Josi, the Predators have a talented roster that includes the likes of Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, and Mattias Ekholm.

Prediction: third place

St. Louis Blues:

Similar to Nashville, the Blues are one of the better teams in the division.

As seen in the 2019 playoffs, this team will go as far as Jordan Binnington will take them, so he needs to play well this season.

Prediction: fourth place

Winnipeg Jets:

The Winnipeg Jets are the second-best team in the division behind Colorado on paper. Despite trading Patrik Laine, Winnipeg still has a deep and talented roster that has the potential to be elite.

Winnipeg missed the playoffs for the first time in three seasons last spring, but that has to change for a team that could have Stanley Cup ambitions.

Playoff atmospheres in Winnipeg are electric, and maybe this is finally the season the Jets bring the Stanley Cup to Manitoba.

Prediction: second place

Nolan Wick is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email nhw5046@psu.edu.