Nashville Predators: Central Division primed to be NHL’s toughest

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(Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Chicago Blackhawks

The traditional powerhouse. The one that won the conference championship 13 times. And won the Cup six times. They appeared in the playoffs 62 times in their 91 year history.

Of course, you already know that. They are quick to remind everyone about that. Always reminded me of the St. Louis Cardinals in terms of how their fans respond to discussion.

But, this season just feels different already. And it is not because the up-and-coming rival Nashville Predators swept them in the opening round of the playoffs. And held them scoreless at home during the sweep.

It is the rest of the offseason that is drawing the ire of fans across the NHL. First, Marian Hossa is out for the season due to a severe skin disorder. It is a strange way to possibly end a 19-year career, and we wish him well. But, while not the 80 point scoring threat like he was early in his career, his role was valuable.

There is some room for hope. The team does have Brandon Saad, who will try to fill the shoes of Hossa, as our friends at Blackhawk Up wrote.  Saad spent the last two seasons with Columbus after being traded away from the Blackhawks. Still, his scoring remains consistent, averaging 51.25 points in four full seasons. That should help fill the void.

Yet, the other additions this offseason left fans scratching their heads. The offense appears to be the same or better than last year, as long as Patrick Sharp is healthy. But, the defense is a concern. Will they have enough to stop high-scoring teams in the division?

(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche

What can you say? Things are interesting over in the Mile High City. To say they were awful in 2016, like stated, may be harsh. But, winning only 22 games all season is not a good look.

The offseason for the Colorado Avalanche has – and still is – centered around Matt Duchene. Well, him a Joe Sakic. Rumors stormed about early on in the offseason. It was full of sound and fury. Yet, it signified nothing except that Sakic thinks highly of his young star.

However, he is still on the team. At least last I check……

Yep, still there.

So, if you are the worst team in the NHL, what do you do in the offseason? You find a way to get better, right? Right?

Nope. They added two goalies, one as a backup to Semyon Varlamov and the other as a prospect. They also added Neil Yakupov at right wing. The largest addition came via trade when they acquired Colin Wilson from the Nashville Predators. While the potential to score is there, friction caused problems. Still, alongside Duchene (yep, still there), he will be valuable.