The revamped central division is almost impossible to predict. The teams in the current configuration came from the defunct southeast division, the old central, and even the former pacific division. There are new coaches, radically reconfigured teams, and a whole new attitude in some places.
St Louis Blues:
Good news: The offense has been bolstered for the the first time in recent memmory with an offensive minded center in Derek Roy.
Bad news: Even if they get the contributions they hope from Roy, Tarasenko, and others, they are going to need a lighter hand at the reigns in the offensive zone to move into the top ten teams in scoring in the NHL.
Good news: No one is paying any attention to them this season, even with Seth Jones part of the squad. No pressure from outside gives them underdog status all year.
Bad news: Management fell on its face in failing to upgrade the offense at all in the off season.
Good news: The team is well balanced on paper with both solid defense and offense. Mikko Koivu may even get noticed for the Selke he should own at least one of by now.
Bad news: How well they do on the ice will depend on how well coached they are, and how healthy they are. At least one of those is a major concern.
Good news: They have better skill at center than they did last year. Jamie Benn, Alex Goligoski, and the crew are very, very hungry.
Bad news: Still not a lot of depth. Chemistry might take a while to develop.
Good news: Still the 700lb gorilla in the division. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Jimmy Hayes and Brent Seabrook are all good reasons they’ll be hard to beat.
Bad news: They can’t count on the luck with health they had last year, and it is almost impossible they will be as hungry so soon after winning.
Good news: Frolik and Scheifele bring talent to the center position. Jacob Trouba has looked solid on the blueline, and Dustin Byfuglien might just have his best year to date, and is on pace for 246 points.
Bad news: People in the Jets front office still think Olli Jokinen is a top center.
Good news: No one ever, anywhere will ever misunderstand how important anything is to their Patrick Roy. Gabriel Landeskog is back to lead his young team upwards.
Bad news: The roster has several very talented players, but how good of a team they are is a complete unknown.
Top three teams:
Chicago Blackhawks, St Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks lead b a wide margin, the Blues have such a strong system and talented blueline it is almost impossible for them not to make it back. Having gotten to the playoffs once, the Wild are practiced and hungry to erace last years drubbing at the hands of the BlackHawks from the memories of their fans.