2022-2023 NHL Season Preview: The Central Division

Colorado Avalanche, Bowen Byram #4, St. Louis Blues, Jordan Kyrou #25(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche, Bowen Byram #4, St. Louis Blues, Jordan Kyrou #25(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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The NHL season is almost here, and the Central Division will once again feature several Stanley Cup hopefuls.

In the 2021-2022 season, the Central was led by the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, who finished the regular season with a 56-19-7 record (119 points).

The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues came in second and third, respectively, as both enjoyed competitive seasons. Minnesota went 53-22-7 (113 points), and St. Louis was 49-22-11 (109 points).

Both wild card teams in the Western Conference also came from the Central a year ago. The Dallas Stars came in fourth in the division (46-30-6, 98 points), while the Nashville Predators were fifth (45-30-7, 97 points).

Which Central Division teams are in line to make the playoffs?

The first team out in the Central last season was the Winnipeg Jets (39-32-11, 89 points), and that was the only other club in the division that was in postseason contention.

In seventh place, the Chicago Blackhawks (28-42-12, 68 points) found themselves nearly 30 points below the division’s playoff teams. 11 points behind the Hawks were the Arizona Coyotes (25-50-7, 57 points).

Fast forward to this season, and the Central Division is once again full of teams with playoff expectations and championship aspirations.

The Blues and Wild largely spent the offseason taking care of their own players. St. Louis signed several long-term extensions, while Minnesota ensured the return of 2021 Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury.

Additions and subtractions were more plentiful for the Avs and Preds, as Colorado saw a plethora of players depart over the summer, like Darcy Kuemper and Nazem Kadri, and Nashville brought in players like Ryan McDonagh and Nino Niederreiter.

Meanwhile, Dallas, Chicago, and Winnipeg are all coming into the 2022-2023 season with new head coaches in place, one of which has already started to make major changes to his team.

Overall, the Central can be split into three clear groups: one that has a legitimate chance to contend for the Cup, one that will be respectable but not relevant in the playoff hunt, and one that won’t contend at all.

With that, here is the 2022-2023 Central Division preview.