It’s no secret that the Metropolitan Division is one of the best in the NHL. The off-season has just begun and the Metro teams are all making moves. Let’s take a very early look at what these teams have done as of July 1, 2017.
Pittsburgh Penguins- The Stanley Cup champions lost goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft which didn’t come as much of a surprise. Shockingly, this is not a huge loss for the Penguins as Matt Murray was set to be the starter yet again. They added goaltender Anti Niemi to back up Murray, and re-signed defenseman Justin Schultz who was a point machine last season. Nick Bonino will be a tough loss as he played a solid role in their cup wins. With their next man up mentality, the Pens will be more than okay. After winning the cup battered and bruised, this team will once again be playing in late spring.
Washington Capitals- The Caps took home the Presidents Trophy last season with 119 points, but failed to make it passed the second round again. The Caps have made two smart moves this offseason by re-signing forward TJ Oshie and defenseman Dimitri Orlov. Oshie is an outstanding playmaker and phenomenal in the shootouts, and Orlov is coming off his best NHL season thus far. After a short stint with the Caps, free agent Kevin Shattenkirk decided to part ways. Despite only being a rental, you never want to lose a top four defenseman. The Caps will be back in the playoffs, but will make a quick exit.
Columbus Blue Jackets- The Blue Jackets got a tough draw in the first round of the playoffs since they had to take on the Penguins. Coming off a great season, the Jackets added a big scorer, Artemi Panarin. The 25 year old scored at least 30 goals in two seasons of NHL play. He has 151 points in 162 games which adds more fire power to a dangerous offensive unit. In order to obtain Panarin they did have to lose a very good player in Brandon Sadd; but I think the Jackets did well here and will be a force to reckon with next season.
New York Rangers- The Rangers once again had a successful season eclipsing 100 points and going on to the second round of the playoffs. They have had an up and down off season so far that commenced with losing a solid young forward in the expansion draft. Oscar Lindberg has not shined in the points department, but the 25 year old is not someone the team wanted to lose if they were to receive nothing in return. The team also bought out Dan Girardi and traded away Derek Stepan. The offense will take a little hit next season without Lindberg and Stepan, but they did bolster up their defense re-signing Brendan Smith and adding Anthony DeAngelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. With a reliable defense and Hank in net, the Rangers are always tough to beat.
New York Islanders- After just missing out on the playoffs, the Islanders knew they needed to do something this offseason to persuade John Tavares to stay. They added 30 goal scorer, Jordan Eberle to play alongside Tavares in exchange for a frustrating Ryan Strome. The Islanders also moved defensemen Travis Hamonic for a first round pick and two seconds. If the Islanders do not flip these picks and add another top 6 forward, they will most likely find themselves missing the playoffs again in a stellar division.
Philadelphia Flyers- The Flyers also missed out on the playoffs last season, but caught a break jumping up to the second pick overall in the draft. In a weak draft, the first two picks really shined and the Flyers were able to acquire Nolan Patrick who has an abundance of talent and seems to be NHL ready. They took care of business in house re-signing forward Jordan Weal and their crafty defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. After goaltending issues last season, they signed Brian Elliot who has a career save percentage of 2.42. With some talent up front and a solid defense the Flyers could be fighting for a wild card spot next season.
Carolina Hurricanes- The Hurricanes finished with 87 points which isn’t too shabby for a 7th seed in your division. With some promising young forwards, the Canes added veteran leadership in Justin Williams. The 35 year old can also still score as he showed last season tallying 24 goals. They also traded for Trevor Van Riemsdyk who was a +17 in his 56 games with the Blackhawks. They lost goaltender Eddie Lack, but added Scott Darling who was 18-5 last season and will be the starter for the Canes. Look for the Canes to continue to improve.
New Jersey Devils- The Devils finished in last place in the Metro, but lucked out by getting the first pick in the NHL Draft. The Devils took Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads who had 86 points last season, and is dangerous all over the ice. They hope that Nico can help with the scoring problem in New Jersey. They also brought in Brian Boyle, the 6”6 forward who brings a ton of grit, and traded for defensemen Mirco Mueller, who hasn’t showed much yet but is worth the shot. Once again, the Devils will finish at the bottom of the Metro.
Please comment and give your opinions on the Metro Division and who you think will take it next season! And don’t forget to subscribe!