A major reason why the Metropolitan Division teams are competitive is because there is plenty of star power. Each Metropolitan Division team has star talent, and they have players that can regularly produce.
Which players around the Metropolitan Division will have the most production in 2017-18? Who will lead the NHL in scoring at forward and on defense? Which goaltenders will post the most wins, and produce good goals against and save percentage numbers?
SIDNEY CROSBY (PITTSBURGH PENGUINS)
Crosby has been one of the most productive players in the NHL over the last decade. Crosby led the goal scoring race in 2016-17 with 44 goals. He finished 2nd in the NHL with 89 points, only behind Connor McDavid. If Sid can play an entire season and stay injury free, there is no reason why he cannot make the 100-point plateau.
EVGENI MALKIN (PITTSBURGH PENGUINS)
Malkin had a great season in 2016-17, as he recorded 72 points in 62 games. Like Crosby, if he can remain healthy and play in all 82 games, there is no reason why he cannot make the 90-point plateau.
NICKLAS BACKSTROM (WASHINGTON CAPITALS)
While Alex Ovechkin struggled at times last season, Backstrom was arguably the Capitals most consistent skater all year. Backstrom’s production can be shadowed by Ovechkin’s flashy goals, but Backstrom should be able to put up similar production if the Capitals can have similar success in 2017-18. Backstrom should be able to hit over 80 points again, if Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie have similar or better production.
KEVIN SHATTENKIRK (NEW YORK RANGERS)
The former Blues and Capitals defensemen signed with his hometown team over the summer. Shattenkirk has been one of the NHL’s top blueliners over the last 4 years, as he has hit the 40+ point plateau in each season. Shattenkirk will bring smooth skating and good puck moving to an already stacked blueline in New York.
JACCOB SLAVIN (CAROLINA HURRICANES)
While the Hurricanes struggled to score goals consistently, Slavin emerged as one of the club’s top blueliners last season. Slavin quietly recorded 5 goals and 34 points in 82 games, and was a +23 rating. For a team that does not collectively score a lot of goals, a +23 rating is excellent. With young defenseman like Slavin, Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk, and Noah Hanifin in their mix, the Canes blueline will become one of the NHL’s top defense cores very soon.
ZACHARY WERENSKI (COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS)
As a 19-year old, Werenski played like a 10-year veteran in his first full season with the Jackets. The 2015 1st round pick recorded 11 goals and 47 points in 78 games. Werenski logged big minutes for John Tortorella, and played in all situations. Werenski should be able to maintain his production, since the Jackets return a lot of players from last season.
SERGEI BOBROVSKY (COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS)
Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy, and was a major reason for the Blue Jackets success last season. He recorded 41 wins, a 2.06 goals against average, .931 save percentage, and 7 shutouts. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner is the cornerstone of the Jackets franchise, and their club usually goes how he goes. While the Jackets might slip a bit in 2017-18, Bobrovsky should still put up respectable numbers in every category. Expect him to have over 35 wins, and a goals against average in the 2.2-2.4 range.
BRADEN HOLTBY (WASHINGTON CAPITALS)
The Capitals did not have the best summer, as they changed their roster a bit. Holtby has been in the Vezina Trophy conversation over the last few years and has established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL right now. The Capitals may not have the same regular season success they have had the last couple of years, but Holtby is good enough to keep them in contention. Holtby should be able to notch his 4th straight 40-win season in 2017-18.
BRIAN ELLIOTT (PHILADELPHIA FLYERS)
While most likely would not put Elliott on this list, he has led several teams to the playoffs the last few years. He recorded 26 wins and a 2.55 goals against average with the Flames last season. Before he was with the Flames, he led the St. Louis Blues to many playoff appearances. If he can give the Flyers consistent goaltending, he could push the Flyers near playoff contention.
By: George Foussekis