The Washington Capitals are currently in the toughest division in the NHL. Some of the NHL’s best players battle with one another inside the Metropolitan Division. Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, and Claude Giroux are just some of the top names that play for various Metropolitan Division teams.
The Capitals face plenty of star power on a nightly basis. Moving past the star players, who are some of the other players around the Metropolitan Division that the Capitals have to be worried about when they go up against them? Who are some of the good players in the Metropolitan Division that are not talked about as much? Are there some newcomers that the Capitals should be concerned with?
Let’s take a look around the Metropolitan Division for the 2016-17 season:
TAYLOR HALL (NEW JERSEY DEVILS) (FORWARD)
Let’s welcome Taylor Hall to the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference! The NHL’s 1st overall pick of the 2010 NHL Draft was shipped to New Jersey in a blockbuster deal right before free agency began. Hall, 24, has been one of the NHL’s most productive forwards in the last few years. In 2015-16, he recorded 26 goals and 65 points in 82 games. The Oilers needed blueline help badly, and Adam Larsson was shipped back to Edmonton in exchange for Hall. Hall is a dynamic forward that will give the Devils a legitimate shooting threat from the wing. He has netted 132 goals and 328 points in 381 career NHL games. Hall should give the Devils a much-needed scoring jolt.
SHAYNE GOSTISBEHERE (PHILADELPHIA FLYERS) (DEFENSEMEN)
Properly nicknamed “Ghost,” he burst onto the season in 2015-16. Gostisbehere, 23, recorded 17 goals and 46 points in 64 games for the Flyers. The smooth skating defenseman has given the Flyers a sneaky powerplay threat from the point. One could describe him as a “slippery” player. He is not the biggest defenseman, but he can push the puck up the ice really well. The Flyers are very high on “Ghost” and he should be a mainstay on their blueline for years to come. Gostisbehere was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Top Rookie at the 2016 NHL Awards.
BRANDON SAAD (COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS) (FORWARD)
In his first season with Columbus, he tallied career highs in goals (31) and in points (53). Saad, 23, is a former Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Pittsburgh native is one of the fastest skaters in the Metropolitan Division. Saad is still coming into his own as a young player, but he is exciting to watch and Jackets fans should be excited to have him for many years to come.
ANDREW LADD (NEW YORK ISLANDERS) (FORWARD)
The Islanders had a tough offseason, as they lost Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen to other clubs. Replacing Okposo will be veteran NHL forward Andrew Ladd. Ladd, 30, is a former Stanley Cup Winner. He spent the last 5 seasons in Winnipeg, and was traded to Chicago at the NHL Trade Deadline as a rental. Between the Jets and Blackhawks, Ladd registered 25 goals and 46 points in 2015-16. It will be interesting to see if he can develop some chemistry with John Tavares moving forward as Ladd has become a long-term investment for the Islanders. Ladd has played in the Eastern Conference before, as he is a former member of the Carolina Hurricanes and Atlanta Thrashers.
VICTOR RASK (CAROLINA HURRICANES) (FORWARD)
After his 2nd full season in the NHL, Rask earned himself a nice 6-year extension worth $24 million in mid-July. Rask, 23, is a 2011 2nd round draft choice of the Carolina Hurricanes. In 2015-16, he recorded 21 goals and 48 points for the Hurricanes. He is a very versatile player for them as he can play in multiple positions. He has also become a key component for the Hurricanes powerplay unit. Rask is still growing his game and the Hurricanes signed him to a lengthy extension because he still has tremendous upside.
By: George Foussekis