After an off-season of trades that only added to the talent pool of the NHL's Western Conference, the Central division looks to be the place where the best hockey will be played in the 2014-15 season. With players like Thomas Vanek, Jason Spezza, and Brad Richards joining the already deep group of all-star players that reside in the Central division, it looks as if the road to the Stanley Cup WILL go through a Central contender.
Last season, both wild card playoff spots went to Central division teams with, Dallas and Minnesota joining Chicago, St. Louis and last year's division winner Colorado in the playoffs. Chicago would ultimately have the best run of the 5 teams, falling in 7 games in the Western Conference Final to eventual Cup Champions, the L.A. Kings.
The 2014-15 season will see Paul Statsny move from Colorado to St. Louis, Thomas Vanek join the Minnesota Wild, Jason Spezza head south to Dallas and Brad Richards join the Chicago Blackhawks, just to name a few moves made to deepen the talent pool of the Central division. Not to mention Nashville adding key role players to their roster like Derek Roy and Olli Jokinen, and Winnipeg adding Mathieu Perreault the Central was full of buyers this off-season which will provide amazing hockey all year.
7) Winnipeg 6) Dallas 5) Nashville 4) Minnesota 3) Colorado 2) St. Louis 1) Chicago
With Brad Richards shoring up the 2nd line Center position for the Blackhawks, even just for this season, will be enough of a boost both offensively and defensively for Chicago to make it to the top of the Division.