Connect with us

nhl news

Central Roundup: Predators Make Big Splashes, Stars Confuse



Avalanche nhl

Just an absolutely crazy day (and weekend) around the NHL, and a lot of that craziness was created by teams in the same division as the Colorado Avalanche. The Central Division is going to look very different next year, and it certainly seems like it will be quite a bit more competitive.

The top teams in the division didn’t necessarily get better, but the improvement inside the division will come from the bottom teams making additions. Quite frankly, it would have been difficult for the Blackhawks to get worse, but it certainly looks like they’ll at least have NHL talent on their team next year. Sadly, that’s more than could be said for last year’s team.

Here’s a recap of the moves made inside the division to keep everyone up to date.

Nashville Predators

How could we start anywhere else? Nashville stole the headlines on July 1, and for good reason. That being said, Stanley Cup’s are rarely won in free agency, so I’m interested to see how this works out.

Steven Stamkos is still an elite goal scorer, but there are plenty of signs that he’s not a play-driver at even strength. Most of his work comes on the powerplay, and that powerplay won’t have Nikita Kucherov anymore. Jonathan Marchessault started to show signs of decline last year, but is still a real solid player. I think they’ll be fine for the next year or two with these guys, but this does feel like a “win now” move, and I don’t know if that roster is built to win now.

Brady Skjei improves their defense, but 7×7? That’s a contract I want nothing to do with. Another thing to keep an eye on will be what they do with Askarov. With Saros locked up long-term, they can dangle him for another player that can help immediately.

Credit to Barry Trotz for making today exciting and I bet Preds fans are loving this. I think that team is going to be better next year, but their window to win seems incredibly small.

Dallas Stars

Another year for Matt Duchene at $3 million is incredible value. They’re benefiting from Duchene still being paid by Nashville, and more power to them for that. The rest of their moves are head scratchers, though.

Chris Tanev got a huge contract with Toronto and one I wouldn’t necessarily want, but to go and replace Tanev and Hakanpaa with Matt Dumba and Ilya Lyubushkin combining for $7 million is confusing. I don’t think that defense got better. If anything, it got a little worse.

Minnesota Wild

I would have 100% taken Yakov Trenin back on a reasonable deal. He’s a solid fourth liner who is really good on the PK. Trenin at $3.5 million for four more years? That’s an easy one to walk away from.

Minnesota didn’t do much other than that because they’re stuck with one more year of massive cap hits from the Parise and Suter buyouts. They did extend Jacob Middleton for four years at way too much money, but that doesn’t kick in until 2025-26.

Winnipeg Jets

As far as new additions go, they didn’t really do much. Kaapo Kahkonen is a great backup, but a backup only plays so much behind a Vezina winner. They lost Sean Monahan and Brenden Dillon and it will be interesting to see what happens with Nikolaj Ehlers.

Chicago Blackhawks

It would be hard for Chicago to be a worse team than they were last year, and guess what? They probably won’t be.

They had a lot of money to spend, and used it to get Connor Bedard some actual NHL teammates. Tuevo Teravainen is a great pickup for the term and money that he got, Patrick Maroon will be good for that locker room, and Tyler Bertuzzi, while overpaid, is a top nine forward. They also picked up Ilya Mikheyev and he brings some speed to that forward core. Laurent Brossoit has been dying for a bigger role, and he’ll get it in Chicago. The defense in front of him still isn’t great, but they should be a lot more competitive next season.

Utah Hockey Club

A week ago, Utah had zero NHL defensemen signed, and as of today, they have a pretty decent defensive core. That’s pretty solid work by Bill Armstrong. Mikhail Sergachev isn’t a #1 (in my opinion), but he’s a really solid top four guy who can run a powerplay. John Marino had a down year and picking him up for a second is a nice piece of business. Sean Durzi also got a big extension coming off a 40 point season.

Up front, they brought in Kevin Stenlund and suddenly have two big bodies down the middle with him and Bjugstad. Utah wants to be competitive next year and probably will be. I’m not sure they’re done, either.

St. Louis Blues

I like Alex Texier, so I think that will be a decent pickup. Outside of that, I don’t think they’ve done much other then become the first NHL team to ever declare a future GM.

All in all, it seems like the gap between the playoff teams in the division and the non-playoff teams got a lot tighter. We’ll continue to monitor the division as the off-season rolls on.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

This site is in no way associated with the Colorado Avalanche or the NHL. Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now.