Predicting the NHL Central Division Champion

72

The NHL Central Division is heating up as the playoff push approaches. Andy MacNeil gives his predictions and odds for the top four teams, the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, and the Colorado Avalanche.

Central Division Standings as of Feb. 3rd:

Pos

 

Team

Points

1

Stars

66

2

Jets

65

3

Wild

58

4

Avalanche

57

5

Predators

54

6

Blues

49

7

Coyotes

38

8

Blackhawks

34

NHL Central Division Projections

Winnipeg Jets – 35.7 percent (+180)

Winnipeg is tied for the third-most regulation wins in the NHL with 32, but they have more regulation losses (19) than any other Western Conference team that’s currently in the playoff picture. The Jets went 9-6 in January, they went 3-5 to close out the month. Winnipeg has been more aggressive since getting Nikolaj Ehlers back, though, ranking fifth in expected goals percentage. If Connor Hellebuyck stays healthy, the Jets should be able to keep pace with the Stars.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook (+550)

Dallas Stars – 33.9 percent (+195)

Dallas went 5-4-4 in the month of January, adding four more loser points to their total. The Stars graded out as a top-10 team in expected goals percentage, but their 2.66 goals per 60 ranked 27th in the NHL during that stretch. Of course, like the Jets, the Stars have a great goaltender, Jake Oettinger. Dallas finished as the third-best team on defense in January, allowing just 2.66 goals per 60 minutes.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook (-145)

 

 

Colorado Avalanche – 16.3 percent (+513)

The Avalanche have limped through the regular season, but with just 48 games played, there’s a lot of time to play catchup. Colorado lost seven of eight games coming out of the holidays, but the team went 7-1 to close out the month of January. Now, with several players expected to return to the lineup in February, and captain Gabriel Landeskog due back in early March, things are looking up for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook (+380)

Minnesota Wild – 12.7 percent (+687)

Minnesota is in third place with a 27-17-4 record, but they are slowly slipping away from third spot and currently find themselves fighting for a wild-card playoff berth. The Wild grade out as a top-10 team in expected goals, but once again, they’re on the mediocre side. General manager Bill Guerin projects to have more than 16 million in cap space to use by the deadline, though, and he has a lot of incentive to add an impact player to what is already a solid team.

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook (+550)