This is my favorite time of the year, the start of another NHL season. This is the first season with the new alignment of the NHL, which means we have a new make-up for the Central Division. Here is a quick look at the 2013 NHL Central Division.

The Winnipeg Jets

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The Winnipeg Jets come over from the Eastern Conference and bring a young quick team to the division. The upside is their core players are locked-in for three plus years. The Jets will be tough at home and will score some goals. The downside is their defense; can this group of guys handle the big forwards in this division? The Eastern Conference plays a more fineness game; the West is a little more of a rough and tumble conference. The Jets could have a tough season.

 

The Dallas Stars

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The big news for the Stars is they brought in executive Jim Nill, a 20-year Detroit Red Wings front office guy. This guy knows how the Red Wings built their teams. The upside is that Nill has traded for some young talent to help out an aging franchise. The downside is they are an aging franchise. The past few seasons the Dallas Stars have been a bubble team and they won’t be much more than that this year. There is just too much to fix in one offseason for Jim Nill right now.

 

The Colorado Avalanche

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The future of the Colorado Avalanche is in the hands of Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy, which should excite Avalanche fans. They know how to win. The upside is that Roy has a very young group of skilled forwards to work with. They will score some pretty goals this season. The downside for the Avalanche is their defense and goaltending. How quick the forwards catch on to the fact they need to fall back and play defense will mean a lot. They can’t let the big forwards of this division skate around and shoot at their goaltender. Those games won’t end well for the Avalanche.

 

The Nashville Predators

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The Nashville Predators bring a tough team to the Central Division. The upside is their defense and goaltending. The Predators have one of the best goalies in the league and win a lot of one goal games. They keep shooters to the outside and make it easy for their goaltender to make a save. The downside is they don’t score a lot. The Predators don’t have a real top six forward that can score 30 plus, but they will win games. The Predators will bring a physical lock down defensive game to the ice again this season, so be ready for a slow, low scoring game.

The Minnesota Wild

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The Minnesota Wild spent their money last year in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, so there wasn’t any money for big moves. The upside is that Parise and Suter should be ready to lead this team. If these guys step up and lead the Wild they will be a hard team to beat this year. Minnesota has always been a tough home team and they will be again this season. The downside is their drop off after the leaders. If you spend a lot on a couple of players, you spend less on others. If the other Wild players doesn't pick it up they will bow out in the first round of the playoffs.

 

The St. Louis Blues

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The St. Louis Blues are a solid team that can score and defend on the ice. The upside is their defense and forwards. The Blues can score goals and have one of the stringency teams on the ice defensively. The downside is their goaltending. Neither Elliot nor Halak has been able to take over the starting job and if that doesn't change the Blues will bow out in the second round of the playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks

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What can you say, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season and they could win it again. This is a rock solid team that can score, defend and has goaltending. The upside is they didn't have to sell off part of their team after winning the Cup. That means a tough battle tested team that can win. The downside is the Cup hangover. They just won the Stanley Cup and many of their stars have been pulled in many directions. That could help some teams in the early part of the season.

I know a lot of sports writers will rave about teams in the East. That is just silly. The division to watch is the NHL Central Division. It’s loaded with young talented players that are hungry to make their mark. The Central is going to be a fun division to watch this year.