Today I'll dive into the Central division, a division that could see a shift in power from the Winnipeg dynasty the past few seasons. There's a lot of decent teams, depending on what happens in the Pacific, there's legitimately 5 teams that could earn a playoff spot in the Central. Tomorrow I'll be finishing up the S16 previews with the Pacific Division, so please keep an eye out for that! Now lets take a look at the only division with 7 teams.
Chicago Blackhawks: (formerly Montreal Canadians)
Owner- Bostonhydro (1st yr Owner/S15 MTL Capt) Captain- illuminati_XIX (1st yr Capt/ S15 MTL Owner)
The Blackhawks are a team built from the net out with Bostonhyrdo in net primarily, with players such as Vaipetucci on RD and X_Jack24bauer_X on the left side of the defensive zone. 2x defending hits leader StenchOfDecay will look once again to take home the title playing RW/RD for the Hawks, after 2 seasons of nearly 500 hits! The concern I have for the Hawks is the forwards, both the starters and the depth players. I don't enough skill throughout the forward group for them to compete with teams in the Western Conference. Luckily for Chicago, they have the largest cap remaining of any team in the NHL with 11.5 million after having a roster of 12 players. I think Chicago will have a long season ahead in a Central Division that has a lot of good teams, could make a few changes and surprise everyone.
Owner- Tha-Real-TMAN (3rd season Owner) Captain- FOR3IGN_OBJ3KT (2nd season Capt)
After S15 and being 1 pt away from making the playoffs as the 2nd wildcard, things are looking a lot better in S16 for the Avalanche. carbor123 and alonzi401 are the best G combo in the NHL, they snagged Mesmerize-_- in bidding and return Runlikeheii and IIChEcKMaTeII. I think a player to watch will be Stay_at_homed, who is a veteran defender that switched positions to LW/G so of course he wont be playing and defense this season. With 10 players and 5 million in cap, they could add some depth to their blueline as there isn't a whole lot there. The Avs will make the playoffs, and should compete with teams such as St. Louis and Winnipeg for the Central.
Owner- NJ_DEVILS_30 (2nd season Owner) Captain- curlew77 (1st season Capt)
After a hard season in S15, the Stars might be looking at a similar road in S16. Krilla92 takes lead on a forward line that isn't filled with a lot of talent. jlm1410 had a very good rookie season in S15 with the Bruins after being ELC'd in season. His Bruins teammate CFairman7 mans the blueline with rookie RD ThundrLightning3 who was ELC'd in the offseason. Holtsee takes net, who is a good goalie but has had a run of bad luck being on some bad teams in the past. They have 12 players, 1.125 mil remaining cap so they could make a few moves to help the forwards out and score some more goals this season but might have to give up a player key to the team to do so. They'll have a better season then S15, but I don't see them competing with Colorado, St. Louis or Winnipeg.
Owner- sjackson2324 (2nd season Owner) Captain- TGil36 (3rd season Capt/ 1st w/MIN)
The Wild are a decent team and one I think will wind up surprising me this season even though I currently have them missing the playoffs. Players like Sidd_05 and Reps_71 (tagged) lead the forwards while Chelios24 and brvsfan4 lead the defenders. scrapingurice is the only player besides Sidd_05 listed as a Center, but has played most his career on RD so I'm not exactly sure what management has in store for lineups. They currently have 12 players with 2.875 in cap to work with. I think this will be a team that as of now, will miss out on the playoffs but make some key moves and could make a run for it late in the year.
Owner- sportsgeek5 (2nd season Owner) Captain- clamps-|6|-GoD (1st season Capt)
Nashville was another team that came pretty close to make the playoffs but failed just short at the end in S15. Currently I don't think S16 will differ very much for last season as they invested heavily in 2 players, right wing Shot|72| and left wing rV_Clutchz. I expect lxlMatthews34lxl to take the center spot, who in his rookie season is another player I have on my ROTY watch. Nashville has 4 defensemen, but no one listed as a LD so maybe with the 3.5mil in cap they plan on using some to acquire a natural LD. If management can deal with the egos on this team, they could jump up into a playoff spot but that's easier said then done as a few players have had management problems in the past on this roster and that can ruin seasons.
St. Louis Blues:
Owner- ExEcuTioNeR-_-53 (2nd season Owner) Captain- bigyan__ (5th season Capt/ 2nd w/STL)
The Blues are my current odds on favorites to win the Central Division. Both managers are good players and they have built a very strong lineup from front to back. Coorsi88 got the memo this season about the position lock after a year of G/G that saw him play 1 game in all of S15, and switched back to his natural spot on RW. mr--bardown and LeCupidon take the LW spots on the roster and they currently don't have a first choice Center on the team. All centers listed, primarily play defense which isn't a bad thing, I'm just not sure what the forward rotation will look like on this roster. flight-airline takes net as one of the NHLs best, and with 4 other G's on the team will have to make sure the level of play is high to continue to start games. Currently with 13 players on roster and only 1.875 in cap, the Blues might look into moving some of those extra goalies as a cap dump if flight-airline does play well, and acquire some depth elsewhere in the lineup.
Owner- Beantwn_beatdwn (5th season Owner/1st w/WPG) Captain- BossRoss_FD (former Owner/ 1st season Capt)
The highest payed player in league takes his 10 million dollar contract and resides in Winnipeg this season. omfgITSmatt (formerly xTarasenko91_) was a hot bid after many great seasons in Vancouver and looks to fill the shoes left behind by former Jets player mattkinnoo (LA). SomeKindOfHate takes net this season after being franchise tagged in the offseason. Furdayzbuddy will lineup with omfgITSmatt on LW and I presume to think Beantwn_beatdwn will move from his spot on defense to Center this season as he did in the AHL S15. They'll challenge the Blues for the Central Division most of the season, but I think will fall just short and finish 2nd.
My Central Division Predictions:
1. St. Louis