Chad Minton’s Rankings (@chad_minton)
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Carolina Hurricanes
3. Dallas Stars
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
5. Nashville Predators
6. Chicago Blackhawks
7. Florida Panthers
8. Detroit Red Wings
I’ve been saying for most of the offseason that the Nashville Predators are a fringe playoff team. That’s where I have them slotted in our preseason edition of the division power rankings.
You can’t move the Tampa Bay Lightning off the top spot until someone proves they can beat them consistently, or they go through a really bad drought.
The Carolina Hurricanes are my sleeper pick to go through a run in the playoffs and get into the Stanley Cup Final, which would be their third appearances in franchise history. I just love the young makeup of their team, lead Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov who all posted 60-plus points last season.
The Dallas Stars shouldn’t be disrespected in our preseason rankings, so I’m slotting them in the No.3 spot even though I don’t think they’ll repeat as Conference champs.
The Florida Panthers are a hard team to put a peg on. They shouldn’t be slept on, but I see them fading down the stretch and missing out of the top-four, but not by that much.
I hate to go chalk by putting the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings towards the bottom, but I’m not the slightest bit confident either one of them are out of their rebuilds.