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Looking at the New Division: Centers

Along with new challenges in dealing with the pandemic, the NHL will be entering the 2021 season with new divisions. As a part of the new Central division, let’s see how the Hurricanes match up down the middle.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

For the first time in a long time, the Carolina Hurricanes look well stocked down the middle. Sebastian Aho is getting better every year, the recent addition of Vincent Trocheck finally adds a competent 2C, Jordan Staal is a defensive monster and Morgan Geekie seems to be ready to step up into the limelight with that constantly-running engine of his.

While the Hurricanes may be strong down the middle, how does the rest of the division look there?

Chicago Blackhawks

  1. Jonathan Toews (X)
  2. Kirby Dach (X)
  3. Dylan Strome
  4. Pius Suter
  5. Carl Soderberg
  6. Lucas Wallmark

In two swift weeks, Chicago lost its promising, dynamic center to an injury sustained during a World Juniors preliminary match and, soon after that, it was announced that the team’s captain was dealing with a serious health concern, leaving both seemingly out for the entire season. Now, a team that was already predicted to struggle, may see its floundering intensify.

The Blackhawks’ next best option is Dylan Strome, who has played top-six minutes for them before, to fill out the top role. There is also hope shown throughout training camp that Pius Suter can step up in the 2C spot. Past him, there is the newly acquired 35-year old Carl Soderberg, former Hurricane Lucas Wallmark and David Kampf to fall back on. Not a lot of offensive promise among that group.

Columbus Blue Jackets

  1. Pierre-Luc Dubois
  2. Max Domi
  3. Mikko Koivu
  4. Riley Nash

Things were hot for a second on the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade front, but he signed a two-year deal to remain in Columbus. Dubois is a great player, but past that, the Blue Jackets center depth is questionable.

Domi by all means should be better in Columbus than he was in Montreal, but that isn’t a guarantee as he was not good as a Canadien. Koivu is nearing 38 years of age and it’s a big question of what more does he have left as he wasn’t too impactful in Minnesota.

Former Hurricane Nash, however, has been a consistent fourth-line center and will help to stabilize Columbus’ lines.

Dallas Stars

  1. Tyler Seguin (X)
  2. Joe Pavelski
  3. Roope Hintz
  4. Radek Faksa
  5. Jason Dickinson

While not as drastic as Chicago’s losses, Tyler Seguin’s absence till April will still leave a huge hole for the Stars. Joe Pavelski did well to fill in the top role during Seguin’s struggles in the playoffs so that may be fine, but the lack of secondary scoring is a question mark for the team.

Roope Hintz will more than likely be relied upon to step up into that role, while Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson are more defensive forwards than scoring threats much akin to the overall nature of the team.

Detroit Red Wings

  1. Dylan Larkin
  2. Robby Fabbri
  3. Valtteri Filppula
  4. Luke Glendening

Dylan Larkin is good… That’s about all I’ve got.

Florida Panthers

  1. Alexsander Barkov
  2. Noel Acciari
  3. Alex Wennberg
  4. Carter Verhaeghe

The most overrated player in terms of his underratedness, in all seriousness Barkov is actually a top center in the league. That helps a lot. Acciari has flourished in his role with Florida, but he still doesn’t seem like a 2C. Wennberg is in a similar boat as more of a 3C and Verhaeghe rounds out the group as a cheap pick up after he wasn’t qualified by Tampa Bay.

Florida seems like a top heavy team that is hoping someone will be able to step up into a 2C role. They probably should have made a move for someone like Trocheck.

Nashville Predators

  1. Ryan Johansen
  2. Matt Duchene
  3. Erik Haula
  4. Brad Richardson

Somehow, Nashville has one of the better center groups in the division; at least on paper. Even that though is debatable, because those top three all had tremendous struggles last season.

But if we think of how these players SHOULD perform, Nashville has a strong group. If Ryan Johansen can regain the chemistry with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson than he is a big boost for that Predator team and the same goes for Duchene.

Adding Erik Haula for a potential bounce back was a smart, low-risk move and Brad Richardson has always been a dependable forward and penalty killer making him an ideal fourth liner.

Nashville has good pieces, but will they reach their potential this year is the question.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  1. Brayden Point
  2. Anthony Cirelli
  3. Yanni Gourde
  4. Mitchell Stephens

Potentially the best group of centers in the new Central division belongs to the current Cup champs. Big surprise there.

Starting at the top, Point has proven to be an elite centerman and one of the most dynamic players in the league. Freshly re-signed Cirelli has become one of the best defensive forwards, placing fourth in Selke voting. Gourde rounds out the top-nine being a difficult center to play against on that tough checking line of Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barcaly Goodrow that will not only break you ,but also score on you as well. Stephens wraps it all up being a cheap option that doesn’t harm the team at all.