The Year In Review: Grading Each Metropolitan Division GM’s Performance Over The Last Year


General Managers around the NHL have been busy in the past year with free agency, trades, and the draft. While some teams like the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils have added superstars such as forward Artemi Panarin and defenseman P.K. Subban, respectively, others have been unloading contracts in an effort towards rebuilding. NoVa Caps grades every GM’s performance by division since the end of the 2017-18 season. Today, we start with the Metropolitan Division.

Washington Capitals

In: Nic Dowd, Carl Hagelin, Nick Jensen, Radko Gudas, Richard Panik, Garnet Hathaway, Brendan Leipsic, Todd Reirden

Out: Philipp Grubauer, Jay Beagle, Madison Bowey, Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Devante Smith-Pelly, Nathan Walker, Riley Barber, Coach Barry Trotz

After the Capitals kept their Stanley Cup championship roster largely intact last year, they have made changes this offseason to bolster their depth scoring, leaving them without seven members of the Cup championship squad. There may have been a lot of changes, but with the core that brought home a Stanley Cup still together, the Capitals should be a contender once again this season.

Grade: A-

New York Islanders

In: Trotz, Tom Kuhnackl, Semyon Varlamov, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin

Out: John Tavares, Robin Lehner, Calvin de Haan, Valterri Filpulla, Doug Weight, Jaroslav Halak

The Islanders lost their captain in Tavares for nothing last offseason. Despite that blow, the acquisition of Trotz was enough for New York to put together an impressive 23-point improvement by fixing their defense and goaltending, which was the worst in the NHL in 2017-18. Their only major change this offseason was in net with the addition of Varlamov and the departure of Lehner.

Grade: B

Pittsburgh Penguins

In: Jack Johnson, Jared McCann, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Galchenyuk, Dominik Kahun, Brandon Tanev, Marcus Pettersson, Pierre-Oliver Joseph

Out: Hagelin, Kuhnackl, Phil Kessel, Tanner Pearson, Connor Sheary, Josh Archibald, Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, Jean-Sebastian Dea, Josh Jooris, Greg McKegg, Daniel Sprong, Scott Wilson, Matt Hunwick, Jamie Oleksiak

The Penguins have undergone a lot of roster turnover since the end of the 2017-18 season and GM Jim Rutherford has handed out many questionable contracts, most notably five- and six-year contracts to Johnson and Tanev, respectively. The core of center Sidney Crosby, center Evgeni Malkin, defenseman Kris Letang, and forward Jake Guentzel is still there but is getting older and a lot of the role players that led them to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 are gone. While some may have questioned Kessel’s work ethic, replacing his 82 points will be no easy task.

Grade: D

Carolina Hurricanes

In: Nino Niederreiter, Andrei Svechnikov, Petr Mrazek, Ryan Dzingel, Gustav Forsling, Anton Forsberg, Erik Haula, Brian Gibbons, Jordan Martinook, James Reimer, Dougie Hamilton, Cliff Pu

Out: Jooris, Victor Rask, Curtis McElhinney, Patrick Brown, Phil Di Giuseppe, Michael Ferland, Scott Darling, Nicolas Roy, Aleksi Saarela, Valentin Zykov, Marcus Kruger, Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Adam Fox, Joakim Nordstrom, Derek Ryan, Jeff Skinner, Lee Stempniak, Cam Ward

The Hurricanes made a lot of changes since missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the ninth consecutive season in 2018 but it paid off as they made it to the Eastern Conference Final. In other encouraging news for the franchise, their AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers won the Calder Cup last season. After falling short of their quest for the Cup, Carolina has high hopes for this season with the acquisitions of Dzingel and Haula to improve their offense with one of the league’s best bluelines still in place.

Grade: B-

Columbus Blue Jackets

In: Gustav Nyquist, Adam Clendening

Out: Dzingel, Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Keith Kinkaid, Mark Letestu, Tyler Motte, Nathan Gerbe, Zac Dalpe, Matt Calvert, Jordan Schroeder, Thomas Vanek, Ian Cole, Taylor Chorney, Anthony Duclair, Adam McQuaid

The Blue Jackets took a gamble by loading up for a Stanley Cup run knowing that Panarin and Bobrovsky, their two best players, would walk out the door come July 1, 2019. After the Blue Jackets shocked the hockey world by sweeping the Presidents Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, they fell to the Boston Bruins in six games in the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is still some talent on the team — particularly on their stacked blueline, but their goaltending is a concern with Bobrovsky gone. Columbus also gave up a ton of assets to acquire Duchene, Dzingel, and Kinkaid at the trade deadline. The franchise is in for a long few years after losing four key contributors in free agency.

Grade: D

Philadelphia Flyers

In: Niskanen, Justin Braun, Kevin Hayes, Kurtis Gabriel, Tyler Pitlick, James Van Riemsdyk

Out: Mrazek, Gudas, Filpulla, Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Hartman, Jori Lehtera, Michael Neuvirth, Phil Varone, Jordan Weal, Dale Weise, Christian Folin, Tyrell Goulborne, Danick Martel

The Flyers upgraded their defense, which allowed the third-most goals in the NHL last season (3.41 GA/G), with the additions of Niskanen and Braun and added top-six forwards in Van Riemsdyk and Hayes. After a furious finish to the 2018-19 season and some offseason moves to bolster their roster, the Flyers should compete for a wild-card spot in 2019-20.

Grade: B+

New York Rangers

In: Panarin, Fox, Jacob Trouba, Kaapo Kakko, Ryan Strome, Fredrik Claesson, Brendan Lemieux

Losses: Hayes, McQuaid, Mats Zuccarello, Neal Pionk, Jimmy Vesey, Ondrej Pavelec, Connor Brickley, Ryan Spooner, Cody McLeod, Paul Carey, David Desharnais, Adam Craknell, Rob O’Gara

The Rangers have been committed to rebuilding the past couple of years and have stuck to a strategy of developing young talent and piling up draft picks. They took a big step forward this summer, devoting a considerable amount to Panarin, Trouba, Kakko, and Fox. New York still has questions down the middle, on the backend, and in goal but are definitely trending in the right direction.

Grade: A

New Jersey Devils

In: Simmonds, Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban, John Hayden, Connor Carrick, Igor Yakovlev

Out: Kinkaid, Gibbons, Gabriel, Michael Grabner, Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson, Pat Maroon, John Moore, Steven Santini, John Quenneville, Jimmy Hayes, Ben Lovejoy, Drew Stafford, Kenny Agostino, Dalton Prout, Ryan Murphy

The Devils did not undergo any significant changes last offseason after making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years. They sold off some players at the trade deadline last year and finished with the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, which jumpstarted a series of upgrades for the team. The Devils still need to solve their goaltending situation but they could compete for a wild-card spot this season.

Grade: B+

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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7 Responses to The Year In Review: Grading Each Metropolitan Division GM’s Performance Over The Last Year

  1. Day One Caps Fan says:

    Super analysis, Harrison B!

    They each got a “D” grade but watch for PIT and CBJ to be playoff teams this year. Day One goes out on a limb.

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