NHL Previews

2018 NHL Central Division Preview

Will Anyone Supplant Nashville?

Our 2018 NHL Central Division Preview hub page offers quick information about each team as well as the projected standings. Links to each club’s full 2018-2019 preview providing complete analysis of each Central Division team are included as well.

2017-2018 NHL Central Division Season

The NHL’s lone seven team division produced the league’s top two clubs last season. The Nashville Predators (53-18-11, 117 points) won the Presidents Trophy with the best record in the NHL while the Winnipeg Jets (52-20-10, 114 points) had the second best 2017-2018 season. The Minnesota Wild (45-26-11, 101 points) and Colorado Avalanche (43-30-9, 95 points) also claimed spots in the postseason. The St. Louis Blues (44-32-6, 94 points) missed the playoffs by a single point while the Blackhawks (33-39-10, 76 points) had their worst season since 2006-2007. The Dallas Stars (42-32-8, 92 points) finished two points back of the Blues, missing the playoffs by three points.

2018 NHL Central Division Preview: Teams

This 2018 NHL Central Division preview offers a quick look below of each team.  Our top hockey analysts provide general positives and negatives of each Central Division team as they head into the upcoming season. Make sure to look at the most up to date matchup information before placing any NHL bets.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • Chicago will need more production from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews than they received last season
  • The Club generally lacks depth at the forward position
  • Nick Schmaltz and Alex Debrincat had good 2017-2018 seasons and should see expanded roles this year
  • The D-corps is aging and is extremely thin after Duncan Keith
  • Corey Crawford is an elite goaltender when healthy but had injury troubles last year
  • The Blackhawks roster looks too thin at every position to be a competitive hockey club

Colorado Avalanche

  • Nathan MacKinnon had a terrific 2017-2018 season and looks to have finally developed into a premier NHL talent
  • Along with MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog will drive an offense which could fly under the radar this season
  • Tyson Barrie is a very underrated offensive defenseman and will quarterback a powerplay which was the eighth best in the NHL last season
  • The addition of Philipp Grubauer gives the Avs a very good tandem in net, featuring Semyon Varlamov along with Grubauer
  • Colorado looks to have a strong enough roster to be a playoff team, but will have to contend in a Western Conference which is stacked.
  • They will have a chance to make the postseason but will likely be a bubble team

Dallas Stars

  • The top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov has to potential to be among the best in the NHL
  • Dallas lacks forward depth after their top line, and will need more balanced scoring to make the playoffs
  • John Klingberg finished third in scoring among defensemen last season and will be a weapon on the backend
  • Miro Heiskanen is likely to see ice time this season, and could play a significant role on a team with a deep blueline
  • Our 2018 NHL Central Division preview finds that the offseason addition of Anton Khudobin gives the Stars a solid backup to starter ben Bishop
  • The Stars should be a competitive team but will need to find secondary scoring to be a playoff contender

Minnesota Wild

  • Minnesota’s top-six forward group looks great on paper
  • Eric Staal has seen a career resurgence and will look to build off of his 42 goal 2017-2018 season
  • Ryan Suter’s return from injury will greatly help the team on the backend
  • The Wild have a very good top-four group of defensemen
  • Devan Dubnyk is an elite goaltender
  • Minnesota should be in the playoff hunt but could miss the postseason due to the strength of the Western Conference

Nashville Predators

  • Led by PK Subban and Roman Josi the Preds have arguably the most talented D-corps in the NHL
  • Pekka Rinne is coming off of a Vezina trophy winning season and continues to be a top goaltender at the age of 35
  • Nashville has championship caliber depth at the center position with Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, and Nick Bonino
  • Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson both have the potential to have 30+ goal seasons
  • Rookie Eeli Tolvanen projects to have a very strong rookie season and will be a great addition to Nashville’s balanced offense
  • The Predators will likely have no problem scoring, and should finish among the top of the league in goals against. They are a postseason lock.

St. Louis Blues

  • The additions of Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Bozak give St. Louis elite depth at the center position
  • The Offensive additions of David Perron and Patrick Maroon are great additions to a club that already had elite wingers in Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz
  • Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko project to be major players on the blueline
  • Jake Allen will need to be better than he was last season, especially with the departure of Carter Hutton to Buffalo
  • Overall the Blues look like one of the most improved teams after the offseason.
  • They have given themselves a great chance to leap back into the playoffs after missing the postseason by a single point last year

Winnipeg Jets

  • The Jets have an offense which could lead the NHL in goal scoring
  • Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor will be key players up front
  • Patrik Laine has a good chance to win the Rocket Richard Trophy this season
  • Winnipeg has, according to our 2018 NHL Central Division preview, a very solid blueline led by Dustin Byfuglien
  • Connor Hellebuyck had a breakout 2017-2018 season and has shown that he is an elite goaltender
  • The Winnipeg Jets are extremely strong in every facet of their game. They should have no trouble on offense or defense. Look for the Jets be one of the best teams in the NHL

Projected Standings

  1. Winnipeg Jets-116 points
  2. Nashville Predators-112 points
  3. St. Louis Blues-101
  4. Colorado Avalanche-98 points
  5. Minnesota Wild-96 points
  6. Dallas Stars-91 points
  7. Chicago Blackhawks-75 points

Final Thoughts: 2018 NHL Central Division Preview

Much like last season, the 2018 NHL Central Division has the potential to house the league’s top two teams. The Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators are both locks to be playing in April and either could win the Presidents trophy this year. The St. Louis Blues might be the NHL’s most improved team and look likely to make it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them in 2017-2018. According to our 2018 NHL Central Division preview, Colorado and Minnesota will likely be battling until the final games of the year for a wild card spot. Also look for the Blackhawks to have another down year as the core group continues to age. Make sure to check with Betting Brain for NHL news, free picks, and to receive any information useful to NHL bettors.

Other Links

Eastern Conference Main Page
Western Conference Main Page
NHL Main Page

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pmroczka

Paul has been writing about sports betting and sports for more than a decade, offering picks on the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA, as well as on college sports and European football. He's written thousands of season and post-season previews, innumerable articles on sports betting strategies, and various books on sports and sports betting.

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