The Metropolitan Division has been one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL for the last few years. The Metropolitan Division has produced the last 3 Stanley Cup winners.
The Washington Capitals have finished at the top of the Metropolitan Division the last 3 seasons, and for the first time in franchise history, finished at the top of the NHL in 2018. The defending Cup Champions will face plenty of competition inside the Division as they enter the 2018-19 season.
Let’s dive in to the Metropolitan Division for a quick preview of all the teams:
2017-18 Finish: 36-35-11; 83 points; 6th in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jaccob Slavin, Jordan Staal
Analysis: The Hurricanes have a new owner with Tom Dundon and new bench boss with Rod Brind’Amour. During the summer, the team made some personnel changes. They traded forward Elias Lindhom and defenseman Noah Hanifin to Calgary in exchange for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, and forwards Michael Ferland and Adam Fox. They also brought in veteran defenseman Calvin de Haan from the New York Islanders on a four-year deal. Late in the summer, forward Jeff Skinner was shipped to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for three draft picks and forward prospect Cliff Pu. The blueline is the strength of the Hurricanes, anchored by Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin. While the Hurricanes are strong on the blueline and have some young talented forwards, questions remain in goal. Scott Darling signed a four-year deal to come to Carolina last season, but did not have the best opening season as the starter for the Hurricanes. Because of the questions in goal and some holes up front, the Hurricanes will likely remain on the outside looking in for the 2018-19 season.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
2017-18 Finish: 45-30-7; 97 points; 4th in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Sergei Bobrovsky
Analysis: The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs two years in a row for the first time in frachise history. The Blue Jackets have talented players on their blueline with Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Up front, Artemi Panarin is a very skilled forward that can rack up some big points. During the summer months, Panarin’s name has been featured in trade rumors, but nothing has come of it. In free agency, the Jackets brought in forwards Riley Nash and Anthony Duclair for additional depth. The Jackets have an excellent goaltender in net with Sergei Bobrovsky, who is a 2-time Vezina Trophy winner. The Jackets are a scrappy team, and a team that works hard every single game. They should hang in the Metropolitan Division playoff race, and have a good chance to win the Division.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
2017-18 Finish: 44-29-9; 97 points; 5th in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Sami Vatanen, Kyle Palmieri
Analysis: The Devils are young, but very talented. Taylor Hall had an excellent 2017-18 season, as he recorded 39 goals and 93 points and he took home the Hart Trophy. Nico Hischier had an excellent rookie campaign for the Devils, as he recorded 20 goals and 52 points. While Cory Schneider struggled at times in goal, Keith Kinkaid took half of the starts for the Devils and had a good season in relief. The Devils are still young, but this is a hard-working bunch. The Devils will likely remain on the playoff bubble during the 2018-19 season.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
2017-18 Finish: 35-37-10; 80 points; 7th in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Nick Leddy
Analysis: The Islanders saw a lot of changes during the offseason. There is a new general manager with Lou Lamoriello and new Head Coach with Barry Trotz. However, the Islanders biggest loss of the summer came with John Tavares leaving to head home to Toronto. With Tavares out the door, Lamoriello had a busy summer with the Islanders. He brought back veteran forward Matt Martin. He also signed Leo Komarov, Ross Johnston, Valtteri Filppula, and Jan Kovar. With Jaroslav Halak out of the mix, Lamoriello brought in goaltender Robin Lehner to try and fix the goaltending issues. Barry Trotz and his staff must find a way to get better goaltending and defensive play from an Islanders team that is known for scoring plenty of goals. With John Tavares now out of the lineup, the Islanders must find a way to replace his 90+ point production. The Islanders will likely miss the playoffs in 2018-19.
NEW YORK RANGERS
2017-18 Finish: 34-39-9; 77 points; 8th in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, Henrik Lundqvist
Analysis: It is rebuilding time in New York. The Rangers are trying to get younger as they enter this transition phase. The Rangers have a new bench boss with David Quinn. Quinn came to the Rangers from Boston University. The Rangers are trying to get younger in a hurry. They have some promising young players like defenseman Neal Pionk and forward Lias Andersson. 36-year old Henrik Lundqvist will look to get back on track in goal for the Rangers, as he recorded a 2.98 goals against average and .915 save percentage a season ago. The Rangers will likely remain at or near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings in 2018-19.
2017-18 Finish: 42-26-14; 98 points; 3rd in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere
Analysis: The Flyers made a big offseason splash, as they brought forward James van Riemsdyk back to Philadelphia from Toronto. Van Riemsdyk, 29, recorded 36 goals and 54 points with the Maple Leafs a season ago. The Flyers are loaded up front, with players like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek tearing up the score sheets. Giroux hit 102 points last season, and Voracek hit 85 points. The biggest question mark facing the Flyers is the goaltending. Brian Elliott is a reliable veteran, and Michal Neuvirth is a very serviceable backup. The Flyers must get consistency in net to win hockey games. The Flyers will likely remain in the Metropolitan Division race, and have a good chance to win the Division.
2017-18 Finish: 47-29-6; 100 points; 2nd in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang
Analysis: The Penguins are loaded with talent. Evgeni Malkin had a tremendous 2017-18 season, as he recorded 42 goals and 98 points. Phil Kessel recorded 34 goals and 92 points, and Sidney Crosby put up 29 goals and 89 points. The Penguins are loaded with firepower up front. The Penguins brought in veteran defenseman Jack Johnson over the summer, signing him to a five-year deal. The Penguins will likely compete for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, and should be considered one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19.
2017-18 Finish: 49-26-7; 105 points; 1st in the Metropolitan
Key Players: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby
Analysis: The Capitals took home the Stanley Cup in 2018. After years of playoff disappointment, the Capitals finally got over the hump and removed some playoff demons along the way. The Capitals will have a new bench boss with Todd Reirden behind the bench. While a few changes were made, most of the Capitals cup winning team is still intact. The Capitals are loaded up the middle with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, and Lars Eller anchoring 3 of the centre holes. On the blueline, the Capitals have a quality top four group featuring Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Michal Kempny. If Braden Holtby can return to his typical regular season form, the Capitals should not fall too much off where they finished in 2017-18. The Capitals should be favorites to win the Metropolitan Division and Stanley Cup.
Andrei Svechnikov – Carolina Hurricanes
Analysis: The #2 overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft should make an immediate impact in Raleigh. The 18-year old has some size, and has a knack for scoring goals. Svechnikov recorded 40 goals and 72 points with the Barrie Colts (OHL) a season ago.
Lias Andersson – New York Rangers
Analysis: The 7th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft saw a few NHL games last season. Andersson is known for his strong work ethic and team play. In 7 games with the Rangers last season, Andersson recorded 1 goal and 2 points.
Martin Necas – Carolina Hurricanes
Analysis: The 12th overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft should have a good chance to crack Carolina’s lineup this season. Necas, 19, is a native of the Czech Republic. He is known for his excellent speed and great puck skills.
2018-19 PROJECTED METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS
1. Pittsburgh Penguins*
2. Washington Capitals*
3. Columbus Blue Jackets*
4. Philadelphia Flyers*
5. New Jersey Devils
6. New York Islanders
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. New York Rangers
OTHER DIVISION PREVIEWS
By: George Foussekis