The Metropolitan has been the most dominant division in hockey for the past two seasons. Four teams have gotten 100+ points in a season in the Metro in the past two years. It is the hardest division in hockey with the Powerhouse Capitals, Penguins, and Rangers. The Rangers were a wild card team with 102 points, they would have finished second in the Atlantic division. Since the new alignment the Metro has had at least four playoff teams come out of it.
Aside from the three regulars who make the playoffs in this division, you can find a few bubble teams like the Blue Jackets, Flyers, and Islanders. All of which have made the playoffs at least once since 2013/2014. With rising teams like the Devils, Flyers, Hurricanes, and even Blue Jackets the Metro is only growing stronger and more competitive. It is the hardest division in all of hockey.
8.) New Jersey Devils (75 Points)
The Devils had an excellent offseason after winning the draft lottery and selecting Nico Hischier. He will be a key part in New Jersey’s rebuild. New Jersey also has Cory Schneider who gives his team a chance to win every night. Other than that New Jersey doesn’t have a whole lot of talent up front or even at the back on defense. Schneider will win a few games for New Jersey but, it will not be enough to keep them out of the basement. The future is looking very bright for the Devils however!
7.) New York Islanders (84 Points)
I have no earthly idea what this team is supposed to be. They gave up so much to Vegas so they could protect 5 of their defenseman and only 3 forwards as a “go for it” move in John Tavares’ last year of his contract before becoming a UFA. Then they went out and traded Travis Hamonic for the draft picks they basically gave up in the Vegas deal. Then they went and got Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome as another “go for it” move. The Islanders played much better after firing Jack Capuano last season and hired Doug Weight. I am just not convinced there is a whole lot of stability within that organization. I also am very skeptical on their Griess-Halak goaltending tandem.
6.) Philadelphia Flyers (90 Points)
I do not trust Brian Elliott after the season he just had. Phillys history of goaltenders not working out isn’t promising either. If Nolan Patrick is ready for the NHL, I don’t think he will step in as a huge impact right away either. They gave up Brayden Schenn for a first round pick weakening their offense. Their defense isn’t anything great either, but it will be in a few years time with guys like Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, and Robert Hagg on their way. Philly is a year or two of development away from being a playoff team in my eyes.
5.) Carolina Hurricanes (95 Points)
That’s right. This is finally the year Carolina makes it back to the playoffs. Their blueline is developing into one of the best in the league. They added Justin Williams to their offense. They added Scott Darling who is looking to become a starter after thriving in a backup role with the Blackhawks. They added Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk for depth. I love what Carolina did this offseason. They are a very young and promising team who could pull off what Toronto did last year. It is also worth mentioning how hot they ended their season last year and will be looking to carry that over to 2017/2018.
4.) Columbus Blue Jackets (97 Points)
Many people are high on the Blue Jackets. To me all I see is a middle of the pack team with extraordinary goaltending. Bobrovsky could have won the Hart last year with how great he was. I was very uninspired by how the Blue Jackets looked against the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs and their end of the season as a whole in general. Given Pittsburgh won the cup, they were outshot quite heavily in most games after the first round. They made Columbus their bitch in the first round, completely dominating them in five games. Their defense is solid with a top 3 of Jones, Werenski, and Savard. But their forward group is nothing special to me. Panarin-Wennberg-Atkinson could be a solid first line, but they let good depth options like Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell walk for nothing. Gagner was a huge part in the Columbus powerplay a season ago. I don’t think we will see the same Blue Jackets we saw last year.
3.) New York Rangers (100 Points)
Another very confusing New York team. They signed Kevin Shattenkirk but traded Derek Stepan, their number one center. They are obviously going for it as Henrik is in the twilight of his career, but trading your number one center is not the best “go for it” move. Hopefully for them Zibanejad is ready to step into the number one center role. What I am really looking forward to for the Rangers is the McDonough and Shattenkirk pair rather than putting McDonough with Girardi.
2.) Washington Capitals (104 Points)
As bad of an offseason as the Capitals had, they are still the Capitals, just as I said the same thing about the Blackhawks. A team with Backstrom, Ovechkin, Oshie, Carlson, Kuznetsov, and Holtby is a force to be reckoned with. I think this could be the year Andre Burakovsky breaks out and becomes a top line player, a player Washington will regret giving a bridge deal to. Given the assets Washington lost, I think you will see some regression in their play this season. I don’t believe you will see them competing for their third consecutive Presidents’ Trophy.
1.) Pittsburgh Penguins (108 Points)
The Penguins have a few question marks going into this season. How will Matt Murray do without Marc-Andre Fleury behind him? Who is going to replace Bonino and Cullen on the third and fourth line? At the end of the day the Penguins could be even better with Kris Letang coming back. Also, not much else matters when you have Crosby and Malkin as your number one and number two centers. The Penguins are in the running to compete for their third consecutive cup this season.