NHL Draft and Free Agency Frenzy: How Does the Metropolitan Division Look Now?


The 2019 NHL Free Agency period is now open, and there have been plenty of big moves that have shocked the hockey world.  In addition to some huge contract signings, it has been a healthy time for trades and even a rare offer sheet.

While the NHL is still busy even during the summer, all 31 clubs are working daily to try and make their respective clubs the best product on the ice.

One can argue that the most competitive division over the last few years has been the Metropolitan Division.  With the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals carrying Championship success, teams like the New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes have popped into the mix as tough Eastern Conference competition.

With the free agency period now open, there were plenty of moves made throughout the Division.  Which teams are better and worse after the free agency frenzy?  Which teams could take a step back in 2019-20?  Which teams could be on the rise?

Let’s dive in to how the Metropolitan Division is shaping up now:


Key additions: James Reimer, Erik Haula
Key subtractions: Curtis McElhinney, Calvin de Haan
Status: No change

Analysis: The Hurricanes have had a busy few weeks.  They have had to deal with a Sebastian Aho offer sheet with Montreal, which they have chosen to match.  In addition to the Aho offer sheet, they got Scott Darling’s contract off their books.  They traded defenseman Calvin de Haan to Chicago to clear up some additional cap space.  Erik Haula was a 20-goal scorer for Vegas two seasons ago, and the Hurricanes acquired him in a reasonable trade.  Veteran Justin Williams is still contemplating his future, but will likely return to Carolina on a cheaper deal for the upcoming season.


Key additions: Gustav Nyquist
Key subtractions: Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky
Status: Trending down

Analysis: It has been a rough offseason for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  They have lost their starting netminder and top two offensive forwards in free agency.  Gustav Nyquist was a nice add for the Blue Jackets on a reasonable contract, but he is not the same level of talent as Panarin or Duchene.  Barring another trade or free agent signing, Joonas Korpisalo will likely be the Jackets starting netminder next season.  He has only 90 games of NHL experience, mostly in a backup role.


Key additions: Wayne Simmonds, P.K. Subban, Jack Hughes
Key subtractions: Steven Santini, Kurtis Gabriel, Kenny Agostino
Status: Trending up

Analysis: The Devils have had an excellent few weeks.  2019 #1 overall pick Jack Hughes has the potential to become a franchise centre for the Devils for a very long time.  In addition to getting Hughes at the Draft, the Devils acquired P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators.  Subban will come in and can contribute in all areas for the Devils blueline that is young and inexperienced.


Key additions: Semyon Varlamov
Key subtractions: Robin Lehner
Status: No change

Analysis: The New York Islanders were late in the running for Artemi Panarin, but he chose to sign across town with the rival New York Rangers.  The Islanders gave Captain Anders Lee a nice seven-year extension worth $49 million.  The Islanders lost Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner to Chicago, but they signed Semyon Varlamov to a four-year deal to help solidify the goaltending duties on the Island.


Key additions: Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko
Key subtractions: Jimmy Vesey
Status: Trending up

Analysis: Like the Devils, the Rangers have had an excellent summer.  2019 #2 overall pick Kaapo Kakko should come in and contribute right away for the Rangers.  The Rangers landed the most productive free agent in this year’s class with the addition of Artemi Panarin.  Panarin is now the second highest paid player in the NHL, behind Connor McDavid.


Key additions: Justin Braun, Matt Niskanen
Key subtractions: Ryan Hartman
Status: Trending up

Analysis: New Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has come in and has made immediate changes to the blueline.  He acquired veteran defensemen Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen in separate trade deals to give the Flyers more veteran presence and stability.  He also acquired centre Kevin Hayes from Winnipeg and gave him a massive contract.


Key additions: Brandon Tanev, Alex Galchenyuk, Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Key subtractions: Phil Kessel, Olli Maatta
Status: Trending down

Analysis:  It has been an offseason filled with change for the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Phil Kessel drama is finally over, as the Penguins shipped him to Arizona in a multi-player and draft pick deal.  The Penguins lost a ton of production with Kessel’s departure, as Kessel recorded 27 goals and 82 points a season ago.  In addition to the Kessel deal, the Penguins had to free up more cap space.  To do that, they sent defenseman Olli Maatta to Chicago.  The Penguins needed a roster shakeup this summer, and GM Jim Rutherford delivered change to a roster that needed it.


Key additions: Richard Panik, Garnet Hathaway, Radko Gudas
Key subtractions: Brett Connolly, Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Orpik
Status: No change

Analysis: The Capitals needed to address the third and fourth lines over the course of the summer.  While they lost Brett Connolly to Florida, they signed forwards Richard Panik and Garnet Hathaway to four-year deals.  The Capitals also shipped forward Andre Burakovsky to Colorado after Burakovsky requested to be traded last season.  With the latest acquisitions, the Capitals are trying to keep a Cup contending team around Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom while they are still in town.

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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1 Response to NHL Draft and Free Agency Frenzy: How Does the Metropolitan Division Look Now?

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Metro has been turned upside-down since the draft and free agency.

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