2019 NHL Central Division Expert Predictions with Betting Odds and Picks
Since the league went ahead with the realignment of the league's divisions, the Central Division has produced some of the most parity-driven seasons over the course of the last eight seasons. Since the 2012-13 season, this division has seen five different teams stake their claim as division champions, with only the Chicago and Nashville winning it on multiple occasions. The Predators come into this season as back-to-back Central Division champions. However, outside of a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016-16, they've got no other hardware worth mentioning. The Central Division did produce last year's Cup winner - the St. Louis Blues -- and based on how each team comes into this season, it's hard to imagine the Central Division winning back-to-back Stanley Cups.
As of writing this, the Colorado Avalanche are favorites to win the Central Division at odds of +250. Behind them, the Dallas Stars check-in as second favorites at +400, with the Nashville Predators (+425), St. Louis Blues (+425) and Winnipeg Jets (+500) right on their heels. Then we have a bit of a drop to the Chicago Blackhawks and an even bigger drop off to the Minnesota Wild at +5000. This division may very well be the closest in all of hockey as the top teams can all compete with one another and all have legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations .
If you want to get in on Doc's NHL selection, you can join the team now and start winning with us. We expect a big season this year on the ice and you can get all our winning picks from puck drop on October 2 right through until the Stanley Cup is awarded in June.
The Favorite: Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche enter the 2019-20 season with high expectations, and Las Vegas seems to believe in them. The Avs made a few big splashes in the offseason by acquiring Nazem Kadri from the Leafs , Andre Burakovsky from the Capitals and Joonas Donskoi from the Sharks. We expect the trio to add immediate depth and impact to a lineup that already features high-end players like Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog.
Defensively, the Avs had to part ways with top defensemen Tyson Barrie, who went east in the trade for Kadri. They are placing a lot of trust in youngster Cale Maker to take over for Barrie and lead the blueline from an offensive point of view. That's a tough ask of any 20-year-old to do in the NHL. In net, the Avs are rolling with Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz, both of whom are relatively inexperienced when it comes to being a No.1 goalie. Based on the division, the price tag for the Avs to win the division is a little lower than we had hoped, and we just don't believe they can overcome a young defense corps and the question marks in net.
From an individual perspective, you can grab MacKinnon at + 1100 to win the
Art Ross Trophy or +1400 to win the Rocket Richard Trophy and lead the
league in goals.
The Contenders: Nashville Predators + Dallas Stars
The Predators come into this season as the defending Central Division winners and bring back a relatively unchanged roster, except for of P.K Subban, who was traded away to the Devils. The Predators did make a key acquisition of their own by bringing in a highly-skilled and underrated player in Matt Duchene. Duchene has never really gotten the chance he deserves in the NHL. And despite that, he finished last year with 70 points in 73 games split between Ottawa and Columbus.
Defensively, the Predators feature one of the best d-men in the game in Roman Josi, and you can grab him at +1800 to win the Norris, which in my opinion is tremendous value. We see this team as one of the teams that can go far in the playoffs and as such, we will take a chance with their season point total "over" 97.5 at -115.
Related: NHL Pacific Division Predictions
As for the Dallas Stars, they believe that going older is going to make them better as they signed Joe Pavelski from San Jose and Corey Perry from Anaheim. Both players were looking for new challenges, and Dallas will give them just that, if not a deep team with a bunch of high-end talent, including Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. You can grab Benn at +4000 to win the Hart Trophy this season (MVP). And considering he's just two seasons removed from leading the league in scoring, that might not be such a bad bet to make.
Defensively, the Stars are hoping the sophomore slump doesn't affect Miro Heiskanen as the Finnish-born defensemen had a great rookie season, logging 23 minutes of ice time and putting up 33 points. In net, Ben Bishop leads the way, and he is among the favorites (+700) for Vezina consideration. If things don't go south on Dallas (like they always seem to do), this team could be looking at a division title come April.
The Rest: Winnipeg, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota
The defending Stanley Cup Champions are getting no love in this piece because they were flat out lucky last season. Don't get me wrong, it was a great story and a great run to glory, but that's unlikely to happen again for a very long time. The Blues won't be a very good team this year, and we'd bank on them missing the postseason all together (+200 to miss the playoffs). Same can be said with the Jets. This was a team that was in the Western Conference Finals just two seasons ago, yet they return a depleted squad and won't be as good as we've seen them. Chicago and Minnesota are afterthoughts this season, despite the Blackhawks having some elite players.
Get $60 worth of member's NHL picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please on any of our top hockey handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free ! Also, for a limited time get three hockey handicappers for the price of one! Click here for our 3-for-1 NHL picks offer . Also, get free NHL picks every day on Doc's Sports NHL predictions page.
Get all of Tonight's Free NHL Picks.
Get all of Tonight's Expert Expert NHL Picks.