Avalanche Have Better Odds than Stanley Cup-Champion Blues to Win the Hyper-Competitive Central Division
- The Colorado Avalanche had a big offseason with the acquisitions of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Bowen Byram
- The Nashville Predators made big moves by trading P.K. Subban and acquiring Matt Duchene
- Could the Chicago Blackhawks be back in contention after bolstering their defense?
The dust has settled on free agency in the NHL, which means now is a good time to examine some futures for the 2019-20 season. The Central Division looks like it could be the tightest race among the four groupings, as six of the seven teams have legitimate 2020 Stanley Cup Odds, ranging from +350 to +600. Who is the best bet to win the division at this point?
Odds to Win 2020 Central Division
|St. Louis Blues||+400|
Colorado Avalanche are Favored
The Avs had quite an impressive run in the postseason, making it through to Game 7 of the second round. Things have been looking up in the offseason too, as they added Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, while drafting defenseman Bowen Byram.
Remember the Avs were mostly a one-line team last year with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. Now they’ve added plenty more scoring depth.
Even Donskoi and Bellemare should contribute. On defense, Byran was the top defensive prospect in the draft, so that will give them a boost. This team looks locked and loaded to contend for a Stanley Cup next season.
Dallas Stars Find Scoring
The Stars were a team that also lost in Game 7 of the second round of the playoffs last season but they’ve made some big additions in the offseason. They, too, needed scoring depth and may have found it in the Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry. Perry is just a flier as no one is sure what the former star has left in the tank, but Pavelski had 38 goals last season.
The issue is that the Stars also lost Mats Zuccarello and Jason Spezza, so it’s somewhat unclear whether they’re better, worse or the same. This team has Stanley Cup-caliber goaltending and defense; offense has been the issue. If they’ve solved that problem, they’re a contender.
Can the Nashville Predators Repeat as Division Champs?
There’s no good reason to write off the Predators, as they had a quality offseason. While they traded away defenseman P.K. Subban in a salary dump, they tend to be a franchise that has depth at the position. Meanwhile, they added Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris up front.
This is a team who has to win now as they have a slew of big contracts they’ll have to dole out in the near future. Their window of opportunity is now.
Bet the Chicago Blackhawks
It looks like the championship window is back open in Chicago. The Blackhawks had a really positive offseason that could get them back in contention. In a wildly unpredictable NHL, I’m willing to take a flier with the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks gave up 292 goals last season (30th) but signed goaltender Robin Lehner. They also picked up a couple of quality blue liners in Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan. Even a signing like forward Ryan Carpenter should help them defensively. Their blue line now features Duncan Keith, Erik Gustafsson, Brent Seabrook, Maatta and de Haan. That’s pretty good.
Is the team still a bit old? Yes, but the window is not closed yet. They scored 3.26 goals per game last season (eighth in the NHL) but it was the other end where they had many issues. Bolstering the blue line and adding a quality goaltender who can start or lighten Corey Crawford’s workload significantly is really big.
I’ll bet on this team to win the division and make one more run at the Stanley Cup next season with their current core.