Sure Playoff Teams
The Chicago Blackhawks also look poised to continue their playoff streak after getting swept by the Predators in the first round last season. The Blackhawks may look a little different from their team that finished first in the Central last season, but they still seem to be one of the best teams in the NHL. They traded away Niklas Hjalmarsson as well as star winger Artemi Panarin. For Panarin they ended up receiving Brandon Saad, who was a member of their last two championship teams. The team has solid goaltending with Corey Crawford in net as well as an elite group of forwards led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Towes.
Playoff Position Contenders
The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues also look to be in the playoff mix during the 2017-2018 season. Minnesota features a very balanced offense that can expect contributions from many players, as well as a deep D-corps headlined by Ryan Suter. Out of all the teams likely to contend for the last Central Division playoff spot, Minnesota looks to have the strongest chance to claim it. Meanwhile St. Louis appears to have the talent and build of a roster ready for a seventh trip to the playoffs. The question is can they beat out all the other teams competing for the open spot?
NHL 2017-2018 Central Division Preview: Overall Outlook
Overall after the Predators and Blackhawks, the last Central Division playoff spot as well as the wild card spot are wide open. Look for the Wild to claim the third Central Division spot. They have many players that can be relied upon to score, as well as a deep team on defense and an elite goaltender in Devan Dubynk. Even though the rest of the field (minus Colorado) look to have similar chances to claim a wild card spot, look for the Winnipeg Jets to snag it. They might have the best offense in the NHL, and look to have made an attempt to solidify their goaltending over the summer.
- Chicago and Nashville appear to be the strongest teams in the Central Division. Look for Both to claim a playoff spot
- Colorado looks to be in line for another last place finish in the Central. Look for them to move some pieces during the year to accelerate their rebuild.
- The rest of the Central Division looks to be in contention for the third Central Division playoff spot, as well as the Western Conference wild card positions. It is anyone’s game for these last spots.
NHL 2017-2018 Central Division Preview: Predictions
- Nashville Predators– 50-25-7-107 pts*
- Chicago Blackhawks– 48-30-4- 100 pts*
- Minnesota Wild– 44-29-9 97 pts*
- Winnipeg Jets– 43-31-8 94 pts* (Wild Card)
- St. Louis Blues– 40-30-12 92 pts
- Dallas Stars– 38-36-8 84 pts
- Colorado Avalanche– 30-50-2 62 pts
*Denotes playoff team