Wednesday, September 21, 2005

2005/06 Predictions: Central Division

I have been posting my predictions for the season division by division. So far I have posted the Northwest Division and the Pacific Division. Today I will look at the Central Division. Of course, it is impossible to be 100% accurate in these kinds of predictions. Let's see if I can even get close.

1. Detroit Red Wings - This team is starting to decline. However, they still have Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg who are growing into stars. They have Nicklas Lidstrom, Robert Lang, Brendan Shanahan, Mathieu Schneider, Steve Yzerman etc. Its still a very good team and will be the team to beat in the Central.

2. Nashville Predators - This is a team on the rise. They have a solid goalie in Tomas Vokoun. A good young defence anchored by Kimmo Timonen and Marek Zidlicky. A good group of forwards with Paul Kariya joining a group led by David Legwand and Steve Sullivan. This team could take a run at the division lead, but I don't think they are ready yet.

3. Chicago Blackhawks - I don't think this team will be much of a contender, but they will be improved. Nikolai Khabibulin and Adrien Aucoin are good free agent signings. Eric Daze should be healthy. Tuomo Ruuttu should emerge as a star. There are still a lot of wholes and not much depth, but they likely won't be a bottom feeder.

4. St Louis Blues - Ownership has given up on this team, so it could be a trainwreck. They still have significant talent in Doug Weight, Eric Brewer, former Calder Trophy winner Barrett Jackman. Keith Tkachuk is a very talented player, who will likely have a great second half of the season - even if he is out of shape now. The team is already off to a bad start having made such a mess of the Tkachuk situation by suspending him and airing their dirty laundry in public.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets - Rick Nash is a very good player, but they don't have much else the impresses at forward. They are too dependant upon aging players who never were able to star with the team in the past (people like todd Marchant and Geoff Sanderson) to produce offence. They wasted a lot of money on Adam Foote. Foote is an aging, but very good defensive defenceman who looked very good in Colorado partly because he had a role where he could concentrate defence and not worry about being the number one guy, like he will have to in Columbus. He's not a good fit at all. Columbus has been consistently signing guys who are not great fits and it isn't helping them make any quick strides.

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