A breakdown of what to expect from each team in Central Division in the 2021 NHL Season.
One of the deepest defenses in the league took a hit but still will be able to fill up all three lines. Nothing new going on the offense except young talent that could only get better. The Hurricanes are now a team that expects to make the playoffs each year. A Stanley cup is not out of the question.
One month ago, the Blackhawks looked great. Unfortunately injuries to Kirby Dach, Alex Nylander who will be out for most of the regular season, and now Jonathan Towes has no time table for his return with an undisclosed illness have upset things. Chicago will now look to their next men up to see if they can make the playoffs again. Their goaltending might not look as strong on paper as last year but don’t write off Delia and Subban just yet.
Columbus Blue Jackets
With their biggest acquisitions being Max Domi and Mokko Koivu and their biggest loss being Josh Anderson, the Blue Jackets remain in good shape compared to last year. Although the makeup of the team hasn’t changed too much, they are now in a division that is a little easier than the traditional metropolitan division so it might be easier for them to make the playoffs, but a deep run will be difficult.
Although not the most youthful team in the NHL, they showed they can make a lot of noise in the postseason with what they have and were able to do it without starting goaltender, Ben Bishop. They will have to keep that going because he is expected to be out until mid March at the earliest, same with Tyler Seguin. They can still be very competitive for the regular season but another deep playoff run will be difficult.
Detroit Red Wings
After making plenty of moves in the off season, the Red Wings have not necessarily made their lineup too much better than it previously was. The goaltending department probably will be improved with Thomas Greiss but it doesn’t look like they will have a playoff season for another few years.
If Sergei Bobrovsky shows he is worth $10 million per year, the Panthers have a shot at making the playoffs. They made smart additions to their top 9 forwards that will really have to dial in this season. This season has the opportunity to be an improvement from last year in a different division.
After a disappointing loss in the qualifiers to Arizona, the Predators might be heading down an unfortunate path. Over the past couple seasons, the playoffs were expected out of them. Now they will really have to fight hard to make it back. Their top two lines look good but their depth pieces will be critical this year.
Tampa Bay Lightning
In this cap era, teams who win the Stanley cup look a lot different the following year. The Lightning did not change too much going into this season. They can expect to be dominant yet again in the regular season and another deep run in the playoffs is not out of the question. Losing Nikita Kucherov for the regular season will be difficult, but they still expect a lot this year.
Central division prediction: