NHL Central Division Contenders and Pretenders (2022-23, Part 2)

NHL Central Division

Our previous rendition of Contenders and Pretenders examined the first four of eight teams in the NHL’s Central Division. Now, we’re set to tackle the second group of franchises rounding out one of the most competitive divisions in hockey.

Let’s meet our cast of teams.

Make sure to check out all of our other NHL Contenders and Pretenders articles.

Colorado Avalanche: Contender

Batting first is the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, one of the single-most-talented teams in professional sports. Any team that can boast the presence of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Gabriel Landeskog, Bowen Byram, Valeri Nichushkin, and Mikko Rantanen is likely going to be in good stead and that’s exactly what the Avs are. Heading into 2022-23, the Avalanche are once again on a collision course to compete not only for the Western Conference crown, but also to repeat as Cup champs. This team is deep, talented, and possesses the “it” factor that all great teams have. This one’s a no-brainer. See you in the postseason, Avs fans.

Arizona Coyotes: Pretender

Most NHL teams play in large venues filled with passionate fans screaming at the top of their lungs. Then there’s the Arizona Coyotes, who are set to move into their new 5,000-seat arena in October. The arena name? Mullett Arena at Arizona State University. Nope, you read that right, folks. Heading into next season, the Yotes will be continuing along with their rebuild. General manager Bill Armstong has placed an emphasis on young players, acquiring draft picks, and building through the NHL Entry Draft. In rather short order, Armstrong has added the likes of Dylan Guenther, Logan Cooley, and Victor Soderstrom at the top end of his prospect pool, cementing the future of the franchise. But the question begs: what comes next? Regardless, all indications point toward an interesting season on the horizon in the desert.

Winnipeg Jets: Contender

Last season was a disappointing one for the Winnipeg Jets and their passionate fan base. Not only did the club miss out on the postseason, but they also suffered various injuries to several important players, including Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Blake Wheeler. As we look ahead to 2022-23, the Jets will look to crawl back into the postseason picture. On paper, this is an excellent hockey team with a good mix of young talent and experienced veterans. In addition, a change at the head coaching post in the form of Rick Bowness should give the Jets a fresh look, feel, and swagger to them heading into next year. Look for Winnipeg to regain their place in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Dallas Stars: Contender

The Dallas Stars made the Stanley Cup Final inside the NHL bubble in 2020 but missed out on the dance in the season that followed. Last year, the club returned to the postseason under the tutelage of Rick Bowness before perishing in the first round against the Calgary Flames. Since then, Bowness has accepted a new challenge as head coach of the Jets next season. His replacement? None other than Peter DeBoer, who will be starting his first season in the Big D. As coach, DeBoer will be instructed to get the Stars in the playoffs (again) in a very competitive NHL Central Division. They certainly have the tools to do so with the likes of Tyler Seguin, Miro Heiskanen, Jason Robertson, Jake Oettinger, Roope Hintz, and newcomer Mason Marchment. On paper, this is a very good hockey team, but will they do enough to get a seat at the dance in a very tight Central Division? Fans can only sit and watch the drama unfold.

Our next Pretenders and Contenders series will hone in on the NHL’s Pacific Division. You won’t want to miss that one, hockey fans.

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Embed from Getty Images

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