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NHL Central Division: Projecting 2015-16 Standings

By Andrew Facemyer
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Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Seventh Place: Winnipeg Jets

In the 2015-16 season, I think it will be the Winnipeg Jets who will fall victim to the utter madness that is the Central Division. Given the combination of size and speed that this team possesses, they have the ability to give any team a run for its money night in and night out. Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson both had solid seasons in net last year. The 2014-15 campaign was arguably the breakout season for both of them. The Jets as a whole were 11th in goals allowed and 16th in goals for. They were 13th on the penalty kill and 18th on the powerplay.

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All of this seems great, right? They had good, middle-of-the-road stats perfect for a seventh seed in the Western Conference. But they did nothing to improve this offseason while the two teams behind them in last year’s standings (Dallas and Colorado) did. Their goaltending still has a lot to prove. If injuries pester them like they did last year, then the Jets may find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs roll around.

Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Sixth Place: Colorado Avalanche

The Avs had themselves quite a roller coaster ride the past two years. They went from winning the Central in 2014 to last place in 2015 with relatively the same roster. I think that they will improve on their 2015 season by one spot in the standings. In the offseason, they have done a lot to try and improve with the signings of Soderberg, Beauchemin and Comeau. However, only one of these three is a good pickup. Beauchemin is an aging defenseman who proved last season that his decline has begun. The only reason we even know of Comeau is because of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ injury problems last year, which led to ice time with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Even with a healthy Semyon Varlamov, the Avs still have some growing up to do to improve on their severe inconsistencies, but they have put together a solid core to grow around.

Next: Next Up: Nos. 5 and 4

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