Here are Kevin Allen’s picks. Ek’a coming up later. What are your opinion.
Colorado Avalanche: Don't be fooled by last season's failure. This is still a quality contending hockey team. Bowen Byram is a year older. Darcy Kuemper could be an improvement in goal. It took the Tampa Bay Lightning several years to figure out how to win their championship swagger.
Winnipeg Jets: The addition of Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt should stabilize the team's defense. That eliminated their most glaring weakness. The Jets already had the goaltending and offense to qualify for the playoffs in this division. Getting Paul Stastny to resign with the team is also a major plus.
Minnesota Wild: As long as they get Kirill Kaprizov signed, this team will make the playoffs. Younger players will keep improving, Alexi Goligoski will replace Ryan Suter's minutes and Kaprizov will keep Central opponents guessing about what he will do next. Look for Kaako Kahkonen to steal the net at some point.
Chicago Blackhawks: Give the Blackhawks full credit for taking steps to improve immediately. Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury gives them instant credibility in net. The team ranked 20th in save percentage last season at .906. Fleury was at .928. Duncan Keith is gone and Seth Jones is the team's No. 1 defenseman. That's another major improvement. Jonathan Toews is coming back. That's the best news of all. The Blackhawks aren't a lock to make the playoffs, but they are in the mix.
Dallas Stars: With Tyler Seguin and Roope Hintz healthy, the Stars are improved over last season. Adding Ryan Suter strengthens the defense. It would help if we knew more about Ben Bishop's health. Goaltending might tell this story this season. But they are among four teams competing for the final two playoff sports.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues' acquisition of Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich represent two of the most underrated offseason acquisitions. The Blues aren't as good as they were when they won the Stanley Cup, but they are still playoff worthy. The problem is the Central is an unforgiving division. This team still misses Alex Pietrangelo.
Nashville Predators: The Predators have embraced a competitive rebuild, meaning they will try to change over the team while still trying to make the playoffs. But they won't make the playoffs this season. Giving Cody Glass and Philip Tomasino an opportunity to make the team won't improve this team immediately.
Arizona Coyotes: You can't trade off Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland and Darcy Kuemper, and let free agent Alex Goligoski walk, and expect to maintain a high degree of competitiveness. The Coyotes still aren't done.