Alright, I’m not going to waste anyone’s valuable time on who is at the top of the Central Division mountain heading into 2022-23 season and if the Nashville Predators are that team.
It’s the Colorado Avalanche, no doubt. Do they have anyone realistically standing in their way for division supremacy? You can make an argument that the Predators are the next-best team in a division that’s not as formidable that it has been in recent years.
To start with the reigning Stanley Cup champion Avalanche, they will have to go through a rash of core injuries and just completely choke to not cruise to a Central Division title this season. They are just hands down better than everyone else, plain and simple. Even questionable goaltending isn’t enough to discount the Avs as the division favorites.
Now this doesn’t mean everything happens according to plan, and that’s the purpose of this article. Are the Nashville Predators the type of team that can steal a division title from a team that drastically underperforms? It has happened countless times in sports history.
Predators Got Better This Offseason in a Division That isn’t as Stacked
The Predators have had themselves a very productive offseason by re-signing Filip Forsberg, first and foremost. Had to be done, and would’ve been a disaster and front office malpractice if he was lost in free agency.
Ryan McDonagh makes the Predators’ defensive core among some of the best unit in the league. At the very least, you have to give them top-10 in the NHL.
The addition of Nino Niederreiter gives the Predators an extra boost of veteran leadership and a two-way player that’s going to make them better in multiple different areas.
Juuse Saros is heading into his second full season as the top guy between the pipes in Nashville. He got his first Vezina Trophy nomination last season and looks to build off it this season.
Oh yeah, and they still have this former Norris Trophy winning player in Roman Josi who offensively had one of the best seasons by a defenseman in 40 years last season by nearly hitting 100 points.
When you look on paper you have to say, “hey, this Predators team is actually pretty good”. Even if you’re an Avs fan that’s not worried about the division, you should have the Predators on your radar at least.
In the end the Avalanche more than likely claim the Central Division and have a high probability to go back-to-back for Stanley Cups. The Predators can be the 2nd place team in this division that’s not nearly as impressive to me that it was in the past.
You can pencil in the St. Louis Blues as your second-best team in the Central Division and I won’t blame you. They’ll be back again as a quality 90-plus point team.
The Minnesota Wild are a team many people like, but their offseason didn’t impress me at all. I don’t think they got any better, while the Predators did undoubtedly get better.
As for the Dallas Stars, they are the tricky one. They could be really good and make a strong case for runner-up to Colorado, but I’m not sure a handful of young rising players like Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger is enough to overcome their aging roster and lack of depth.
The Winnipeg Jets are a bubble team at best, and we don’t even have to waste time on the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes. Both teams are deep into massive rebuilds.
So, can the Predators be a second-place team in the Central Division in 2022-23? I would have never entertained that thought last season, but I actually think they can be one of the top teams in the division behind the Avs this year.