The NHL season is fast approaching and it’s that time of the year to make our call and pick the 2019-20 NHL season winners. This time, we’ll take a look at the NHL’s Central Division, which belongs to the Western Conference.

The NHL’s Central Division is perhaps the toughest division to call this season. The Nashville Predators won this division in the last two years but last season, they won it by the smallest of margins. This year, the Predators are just third in the current odds board with the Colorado Avalanche as favorites to win the division this coming season.

Here are the odds to win the NHL’s Central Division for the 2019-20 season. These odds were taken from as of 9/27/19:

Team Odds
Colorado Avalanche +250
Saint Louis Blues +400
Nashville Predators +425
Dallas Stars +425
Winnipeg Jets +500
Chicago Blackhawks +900
Minnesota Wild +5000

“Hockey" Who Are The Favorites?

The Colorado Avalanche finished last season with a record of 38-30-14 The Avalanche won the race for the 2nd and final Wild Card spot in the West after a strong 7-2-1 finish in their last 10 games played. This time, Colorado is the NHL betting favorite to win the Central Division.

GM Joe Sakic had a busy offseason. He orchestrated the big trade that sent blueliner Tyson Barrie, center/winger Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for center Nezem Kadri, Calle Rose and a 2020 third round pick. Kadri scored 32 goals in back to back seasons for Toronto before the Maple Leafs got John Tavares prior to last season and pushed Kadri into a lesser offensive role. In Colorado, Kadri is a legit center who can provide offense behind their top trio led by Nathan MacKinnon.

The St. Louis Blues are the defending Stanley Cup champions. St. Louis flipped one of the best finishes in league history en route to winning their first ever title. The Blues were in last place in the Westerrn Conference as the calender turned to 2019 but they caught fire and went on a torrid winning run that saw them tie the Winnipeg Jets who at one point led them by 22 points. The Blues would finish 3rd in the Central Division and they would embark on a playoff run that culminated in a Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. With the Blues retaining the core of their 2019 team, this year should be another exciting one for them.

The Nashville Predators won a tightly contested Central Division last season. The Predators came out on top and edged out the Winnipeg Jets and the eventual Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues by one point each to win their second consecutive division title. But that wasn’t enough to put them on top of the current odds board. One reason is that the Predators were ousted in six games by the Dallas Stars in round one of the 2019 Playoffs. On the second day of the NHL draft, GM David Poile dealt blueliner P.K. Subban to clear salary cap space. That paved way for the signing of Matt Duchen who gives Nashville a one-two punch in Duchen and Ryan Johansen. With a dual threat down the middle, the Predators addressed the mandatory need of having a juggernaut offense to compete for the Stanley Cup.

The Dallas Stars struggled to find consistent form for most of last season but then they turned it up late and managed to bag the first Wild Card spot in the West. The Stars brought in veteran Joe Pavelski to provide secondary scoring behind the trio Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov. The 35 year old Pavelski is coming off a season where he scored 38 goals, 16 more than he scored the previous year. Another addition to Dallas is Corey Perry who was bought out by Anaheim. Perry managed just 10 points in an injury filled season where he played only 31 games. His production has decreased in each of the last three years but if he is healthy, he will be able to help ease the pressure off Dallas’ first line.

The Winnipeg Jets carried Stanley Cup ambitions last season. However, they managed only 99 regular season points and were disposed of by the St. Louis Blues in six games during the latter’s run to the title. Jacob Trouba, who struggled for form last season, was traded to the New York Rangers for Neal Pionk and a 2019 first round pick who became Finnish blueliner Ville Heinola. However, the departure of Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot has weakened their back line.

“Hockey" Who Wins?

The Central Division teams got better during the offseason and this could probably be the most difficult division in the NHL to pick. However, the Colorado Avalanche stands out for me. Colorado advanced to the playoffs for the second straight season in 2018-19. They lost to the San Jose Sharks in seven games during the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Their forward line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, combined for 261 points (106 goals, 155 assists) and they picked a good defensive man in Bowen Byram with the 4th pick of the 2019 NHL Draft. 2017 pick Cale Makar is an up and coming defensive man. Meanwhile, MacKinnon was impressive with 99 points during the regular season and 13 points in the playoffs. Prediction: Colorado Avalanche

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