Nashville Predators: Preseason Central Division Power Rankings

Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators skates away from Ty Dellandrea #60 of the Dallas Stars during the second period of the exhibition game prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on July 30, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. Mandatory Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports
Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators skates away from Ty Dellandrea #60 of the Dallas Stars during the second period of the exhibition game prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on July 30, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. Mandatory Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports /
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Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars
Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators skates away from Ty Dellandrea #60 of the Dallas Stars . Mandatory Credit: Dave Sandford/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports /

Rich Howe’s Rankings (@Rich_Howe_9)

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

2. Dallas Stars

3. Carolina Hurricanes

4. Nashville Predators

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

6. Chicago Blackhawks

7. Florida Panthers

8. Detroit Red Wings

The new Central Division is wide open now that the Colorado Avalanche have been shipped out West. However, the other seven teams will now have to deal with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Along with the runner-up Dallas Stars, these two teams should sit atop the Central. There have been few offseason changes for both teams, so their destinies rest on their shoulders.

The Carolina Hurricanes remain a hungry and dangerous team, which also made few changes in the offseason. They are a tough team to play against and will be looking to make a bigger splash after suffering a first-round defeat against a strong (at the time) Bruins team.

Sitting in the fourth slot is the Nashville Predators. They’ve been placed in the middle of the pack because we really don’t know how they will perform after their mini rebuild. They are too good on paper to rank lower and not good enough to place higher. This re-vamped team will need to get the jump on the other teams and gel quickly.

Depending on how the Predators perform, the Columbus Bluejackets could overtake them in the rankings. They put up a tough fight in the playoffs, eventually losing to the Lightning. They will be looking to take out some revenge against their new division mates.

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida Panthers proves to be a challenge as well. The Panthers didn’t stand a chance in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Islanders.

The Blackhawks defeated a tough Oilers team in the Qualifiers, but were then dismantled by Vegas in the first round.

Both the Panthers and the Blackhawks have made several roster changes in the offseason. This season could turn out to be a rough one for both teams.

Speaking of rough seasons, the Detroit Red Wings had an embarrassing one last year. They are in the midst of a rebuild and will continue to face challenges. They should have a better season than last. They are at the bottom and have nowhere to go but up.

Staff Composite Rankings

1. Tampa Bay Lightning

2. Carolina Hurricanes

3. Dallas Stars

4. Nashville Predators

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

T-6. Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers

8. Detroit Red Wings

A lot of agreement among the staff on the top-three in the division of Tampa Bay, Carolina and Dallas. Those three should be the early favorites to come away with three of the four playoffs spots.

The middle of the division for that all-important fourth spot looks to be a real battle to behold, but our preseason rankings lean heavily towards it being a two-horse race between Columbus and Nashville, who open the season against each other at Bridgestone Arena.

Florida and Chicago aren’t too far behind, but need to show more to have full faith in them coming out of the preseason, especially with Chicago losing young star Kirby Dach to injury at the World Juniors.

light. More. Predators Add Another Free Agent in Erik Haula

Detroit brings up the rear, but perhaps they can pull off some upsets and avoid finishing in last place when it’s all said and done.