We’ve finally reached the end of the offseason and things kick off this week around the NHL. Exhibition games are underway in Europe and final cuts have come down all around the league. The excitement for the upcoming season is palpable, with even the most minor transactions generating plenty of interest among hockey fans.
With that in mind we’re going to ask you, the PHR reader, to give us your thoughts on the upcoming season. We started with the Atlantic Division, which seemed an easy choice for a good chunk of our community. The Tampa Bay Lightning ran away with the poll, earning a whopping 46% of all votes. Next was the Metropolitan Division earlier today, which doesn’t look quite as lopsided. The Washington Capitals have been picked by 32% of the voters to take home their fifth consecutive division title, but the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils each currently carry more than 10%.
After finishing up the Eastern Conference we’ll now move west into the Central Division, where the Nashville Predators finished just a single point ahead of both the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues last season. In fact, Nashville’s 100 points were the lowest by any division winner and wouldn’t have even placed second in any of the other three groups. It didn’t do them much good either, as the Predators would fall in the first round to the Dallas Stars and have to watch their division rivals from St. Louis take home the Stanley Cup.
With that in mind, the Central might be the hardest division in the league to predict for 2019-20. All seven teams finished with at least 83 points last season and a similar thing might happen this year as they beat up on each other all year long. The Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche should all be improved, while the Jets still have a star-studded forward group even if their defense did take a hit in the offseason.
Who do you think will come out on top of the Central Division? Will Matt Duchene’s arrival make up for the loss of P.K. Subban from the back-end in Nashville? Can the young core in Colorado take them all the way to the top? Will the Blues continue to ride a breakout Jordan Binnington all year long? Cast your vote below and explain how you think the season will play out!
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