12up Logo12up Logo

Power Ranking the NHL's Central Division After Crazy Offseason

DENVER, COLORADO - MAY 02: Goalie Philipp Grubauer #31 of the Colorado Avalanche is congratulated by his teammates after their shut out win against the San Jose Sharks during Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on May 2, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
San Jose Sharks v Colorado Avalanche - Game Four | Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Over the past few seasons, the Central Division has emerged as one of the most dangerous in all of hockey. In 2018-19, the Central sent five teams to the postseason, which was tied with the Metropolitan for the most in the NHL-- and after capturing the Stanley Cup via the St. Louis Blues, expect the Central to be right back in the mix in the upcoming campaign. With that in mind, let's rank the current pecking order amoung the division's seven teams.

7. Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 01: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks tries to advance against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on April 01, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Unfortunately for Chicago fans, the Blackhawks won't be anywhere near the top in the 2019-20 season. Although they were able to snag Kirby Dach with the third pick in this year's draft and grab Robin Lehner from the Islanders, they really haven't done much else in the offseason to justify a standings boost. With a slew of aging forwards and d-men, the Blackhawks are likely going to dance around the basement of the Central next season.

6. Minnesota Wild

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 2: Eric Staal #12 of the Minnesota Wild celebrates with his teammates after scoring against the Calgary Flames  during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 2, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Minnesota Wild v Calgary Flames | Derek Leung/Getty Images

The big move of the offseason for the Wild? Signing Mats Zuccarello to a five-year deal. Other than a few other lower-level signings, however, the Wild are mostly going to go into next season with the same lineup. In all honesty, that's not going to get them very far. After a tough 2018-19 run, expect for the Wild to bounce around the fifth through seventh spots in the Central Division barring a potential hot streak.

5. Winnipeg Jets

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 20: Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets reacts after the Jets were eliminated in Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Enterprise Center on April 20, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Winnipeg Jets v St Louis Blues - Game Six | Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

This is definitley a tough call to make, but the Jets are likely to take a little drop in the standings next year. They're coming off a surprising upset against the Blues in the first round of the playoffs that left them broken and battered, and they've also lost two of their top four defensemen in Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers, and haven't made any groundbreaking deals to compensate for it. Although they're stacked with young forwards, that might not be enough to compete in the up-and-coming Central.

4. Nashville Predators

DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 22:  Austin Watson #51 of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal against the Dallas Stars in the first period of Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 22, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Nashville Predators v Dallas Stars - Game Six | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Nashville has been one of the most hotly discussed teams of the offseason. They lost PK Subban to the Devils, but managed to ink Matt Duchene to a long-term deal, and are generally stacked from top to bottom. The Preds are loaded with scorers, great defensemen lead by Roman Josi, and one of the league's best goalies in Pekka Rinne. Expect for them to hover near the top three spots the Central next year.

3. Dallas Stars

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 3: Ben Bishop #30 and Alexander Radulov #47 of the Dallas Stars celebrate after beating the St. Louis Blues in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Enterprise Center on May 3, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dallas Stars v St Louis Blues - Game Five | Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Seriously, watch out for the Stars in 2019-20. After knocking off the division-leading Preds in the first round last year and coming up one game short of defeating the eventual champion Blues, Dallas has got potential flowing all throughout their lineup. They're also blessed that Ben Bishop has returned to the type of goalie he was earlier in his career, earning a Vezina nod last season. They're definitley going to compete for more than just a Wild Card spot next year.

2. St. Louis Blues

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 12: Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues holds the Stanley Cup following the Blues victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

You might be thinking to yourself, hey, didn't the Blues just win the Stanley Cup? Why aren't they No. 1? Well, the answer is because they barely squeaked into the playoffs last year despite the magical run that eventually came to fruition. This year will undoubtedly be different for the Blues in the regular season; with one of the best up-and-coming goaltenders in the league in Jordan Binnington and a chance to ride the Stanley Cup high, the Blues will finally find themselves towards the top of the Central-- but don't be surprised if they don't quite finish in pole position.

1. Colorado Avalanche

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 22:  (L-R) Gabriel Landeskog #92, Nathan MacKinnon #29 and Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche talk during the third period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 22, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Avalanche 6-4. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche v Arizona Coyotes | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You might think this is a bold prediction, but why not? The Avs have the best forward line in hockey. They also have incredible young defensemen who play like they've been in the league for years. Expect Nate MacKinnon to have another MVP-caliber season. Joe Sakic also worked his magic to bring in more forward help in the forms of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi. They're going to be the team poised to shock the league in the new season.