Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Summarizing THN's Central Division Preview

(If you missed the summaries for the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions, there are the links. And here's the link to all of the THN previews from Dom Luszczyszyn.)

Let's jump into the "best" division in the league today, though I'm not quite sure it really is the best. Spoiler alert: there are four good teams and one decent team in the Central, but they might cannibalize each other to the point where they all end up below 100 points.

Projected Central Division Standings
  1. St. Louis (82.3% chance of making the playoffs)
  2. Dallas (78.3%)
  3. Chicago (75.0%)
  4. Nashville (74.7%)
  5. Minnesota (66.5%)
  6. Winnipeg (48.0%)
  7. Colorado (20.8%)
Those playoff percentages, of course, are all bolstered by the fact that the Central will almost certainly steal the Pacific's Wild Card spot. Even with the news of Johnny Gaudreau's re-signing (not resigning) in Calgary, the safe bet is Minnesota or Chicago will squeeze them out of the playoff picture.

Best Forwards In The Division
  1. Tyler Seguin, Dallas (2.04 GSAR/60, 3.4 GSVA)
  2. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis (1.96, 3.2)
  3. Patrick Kane, Chicago (1.80, 3.1)
  4. Jamie Benn, Dallas (1.74, 3.0)
  5. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg (1.56, 2.6)
  6. Filip Forsberg, Nashville (1.52, 2.5)
  7. Jason Spezza, Dallas (1.42, 2.1)
  8. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg (1.30, 2.1)
  9. James Neal, Nashville (1.29, 2.1)
  10. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado (1.24, 2.1)
  11. Zach Parise, Minnesota (1.26, 2.0)
  12. Jonathan Toews, Chicago (1.21, 2.0)
  13. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis (1.23, 1.9)
  14. Artemi Panarin, Chicago (1.20, 1.9)
  15. Patrick Sharp, Dallas (1.18, 1.8)
  16. Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg (1.23, 1.7)
  17. Ryan Johansen, Nashville (1.07, 1.7)
  18. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado (1.06, 1.7)
  19. Alex Steen, St. Louis (1.03, 1.7)
  20. Nino Neiderreiter, Minnesota (1.14, 1.6)
  21. Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg (1.10, 1.6)
  22. Eric Staal, Minnesota (1.03, 1.6)
  23. Matt Duchene, Colorado (0.96, 1.6)
  24. Bryan Little, Winnipeg (0.98, 1.5)
  25. Paul Stastny, St. Louis (0.92, 1.5)
Let's all take a minute to laugh at those Kane/Toews contracts, especially compared to the deals for Seguin, Tarasenko, Benn, Wheeler, and Forsberg. 

We should also kind of raise our eyebrows at the Jets having five top-line forwards plus a pair of rookies that are already second-line caliber (at least). Considering the late-breaking news of Ondrej Pavelec's placement on waivers yesterday, perhaps we need to bump the Jets up into the middle of the pack in the Central. More on that in two sections.

Best Defensemen In The Division
  1. John Klingberg, Dallas (1.34 GSAR/60, 2.7 GSVA)
  2. Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg (1.06, 2.3)
  3. Duncan Keith, Chicago (0.98, 2.1)
  4. PK Subban, Nashville (0.94, 2.1)
  5. Colton Parayko, St. Louis (1.14, 2.0)
  6. Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis (1.02, 1.9)
  7. Ryan Ellis, Nashville (0.91, 1.6)
  8. Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis (0.68, 1.5)
  9. Roman Josi, Nashville (0.67, 1.5)
  10. Tyson Barrie, Colorado (0.73, 1.4)
I guess I'd like to know what goes into Game Score that values Klingberg so much more than Pietrangelo and Josi, but this also probably means that Gostisbehere will rank well in the Metro preview so I'll let it slide. 

The blue lines in St. Louis and Nashville are absurd, and the Blues look like they're primed to finally have "the year" (again, for like the sixth season in a row).

Best Goalies In The Division
  1. Corey Crawford, Chicago (0.21 GSAR/60, 2.3 GSVA)
That's it. Like the Pacific, the Central has just one goalie that rates in the top ten in the league. The Atlantic has three, which means the Metro has half of the elite-level goalies in the NHL.

Worst Players In The Division, Starting Lineup
Winger: Ryan Reaves, St. Louis (-0.84, -0.6)
Center: Alex Burmistrov, Winnipeg (-0.58, -0.7)
Winger: Cody McLeod, Colorado (-0.71, -0.6)

Defenseman: Fedor Tyutin, Colorado (-0.23, -0.4)
Defenseman: Carl Gunnarsson, St. Louis (-0.24, -0.4)

Goalie: Antti Niemi, Dallas (-0.05, -0.4)
Goalie: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas (-0.09, -0.7)
Goalie: Pekka Rinne, Nashville (-0.01, -0.1)
Goalie: Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg (-0.04, -0.3)

I really wanted to try to narrow this worst goalie down to one guy, but there are four really viable candidates here. Let's take a closer look:
  • Lehtonen ($5.9 million) and Niemi ($4.5 million) are simultaneously the worst goalie tandem in the league and the highest-paid. That's... not good. 
  • Rinne ($7 million) is a shade below replacement level, and he's the second-highest-paid player on the Predators. He also has a no movement clause until after the 2018-19 season, meaning Nashville has to protect him in the upcoming expansion draft. 
  • The aforementioned Pavelec ($3.9 million) was waived yesterday, and giving his starts to Someone Other Than Him will catapult the Jets from a bottom-six goaltending team to a middle-of-the-pack goaltending team. 
Here are the full rankings/projections:


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