1. Nashville Predators- Yes you read this right. The Nashville Predators have the team to win the Central Division this year. This isn't the most talented team they've ever had, but it is the best-structured team they've ever had. This is now Shea Weber's team. I think we'll all see what a difference that makes. No more saggy leadership from Arnott. I don't think there has ever been this much optimism or hype going into a Nashville Predators season. If all goes like it should, the Preds will win their first Central Division championship in franchise history.
2. Detroit Red Wings- The Red Wings will be battling the Preds all year for the division crown. They proved they are still a great team when everybody got healthy again near the end of last year. The question is: Can they stay healthy throughout the year? In all honesty, I don't see the Mike Modano acquisition helping them overwhemingly. It will be a tight race between the Wings and Preds though.
3. Chicago Blackhawks- The Stanley Cup champs are going to have a bit of a drop-off this year. After winning the cup last year, the champs lost a great deal of players from the team, including goaltender Antii Niemi. They signed Marty Turco this off-season but, c'mon, let's be real here. There's simply no way they're going to be as good as they were last year. They still have the firepower with Toews, Kane, Hossa, Keith, and Seabrook, but I don't think they have enough behind them. They'll make the playoffs, but no division crown for them this year.
4. St. Louis Blues- The Blues lost former Pred Chris Mason this off-season, but got Jaraslov Halak. Halak showed brilliance in last year's playoffs and is a fine goaltender. But the Blues didn't get any better at any other position. I just don't see a way they're going to compete for the division this year. Look for them to be on the bubble near the end of the season as far as the playoffs go.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets- Columbus just isn't looking like much this year. They've got a super-star in Rick Nash, and a goalie in Steve Mason that went from brilliance his rookie year to mediocrity at best for his sophomore year. How well will Mason play? If he returns to his rookie form, he'll steal some games for Columbus. If not, look for the Blue Jackets to be at or near the bottom of the Western Conference.
That's my preview for the Central Division for this upcoming year. What do you guys think?