Discover Central Division Power Rankings: Sunshine State Controls Top of Rankings
|Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images|
Part of the fun of the realignment was getting to see certain matchups play out more than they would during a normal season. The Central division saw maybe the biggest shakeup of teams, leading to some intriguing matchups during the season.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: 14-4-1 (29 points) 76.3 Points%
The defending champions are still the class of the league, even if they don't have the best record in the NHL. This division in particular has been hit hard when it comes to COVID-19, so it will be interesting how fatigue plays a factor late in the season.
You would have been right to question how the Lightning would respond this year, coming off a short offseason, and being without arguably their best player in Nikita Kucherov. That is until you remember just how insanely deep this team is.
They have a three way tie for the lead in points on their team, with Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Brayden Point pacing the Lightning. Add in Mikhail Sergachev and that gives Tampa two defensemen with at least 15 points.
2. Florida Panthers: 13-4-3 (29 points) 72.5 Points%
When Florida signed Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year contract, they weren't expecting him to be a part of a goalie platoon - at least not this early. Here is Florida, though, tied with the Lightning for first in the division while splitting Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger evenly thus far.
Offseason additions Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe have fit in nice with core players Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.
3. Carolina Hurricanes: 13-6-1 (27 points) 67.5 Points%
The Hurricanes were one of the teams hit hard with COVID-19, but while on the ice they have been their usually difficult to play against that propelled into the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
They are ninth in 5v5 save percentage, and own the second best expected goals share in the league. They are very much a contending team in this new look division.
4. Chicago Blackhawks: 12-7-4 (28 points) 60.9 Points%
I mean, why not, right? File the 2020-2021 Blackhawks as the surprise team of the season, regardless how it ends. Who would of thought they'd be in a playoff position of any sore when they found out they'd be without Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach?
How about when they were going to roll out with Colin Dea and Malcolm Subban as their goaltending tandem? Kevin Lankinen had other things to say about that. He's definitely in the running for the Calder Trophy.
How about Patrick Kane? What a resurgence he's had, and congrats on him for scoring goal number 400 on his career. Who knows how long they can keep it up, just enjoy it while they do.
5. Dallas Stars: 6-6-4 (16 points) 50.0 Points%
This is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out for the Stars. Already playing on a shortened offseason, they've had a good chunk of their games wiped out already. If they are going to play a full 56 games, that's a lot of hockey left to be played. Can they hold up physically and mentally?
We will see.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets: 8-10-5 (21 points) 45.7 Points%
They finally have that star goal scoring winger they've been searching for in Patrik Laine, it just cost them their number one center to get it. There is no question PLD had to go, and the inclusion of Jack Roslovic has made this trade so much better for the Blue Jackets.
It just doesn't seem like enough. You feel like this team should be better than they currently are. But they don't seem anywhere close with competing with some of the teams in the division.
7. Nashville Predators: 10-11 (20 points) 47.6 Points%
Baring something crazy happening, or the Blackhawks cratering, Nashville and Columbus will probably be fighting between these two spots for the rest of the season. There has been talk of a rebuild.
Unlike Columbus, Nashville does have some nice young talent working their way up. Moving some of the veterans could add to that going forward.
8. Detroit Red Wings: 7-13-3 (17 points) 37.0 Points%
They had one of the worst seasons in recent history last year, and still didn't end up with a top three pick. Detroit just isn't that good, and probably won't be for at least a couple more seasons. Which means Dylan Larkin's best young years go to nothing.
What did you think about the rankings? What would you change? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.