2021 Offseason Grades: Metropolitan Division

Photo: NBC Sports

With the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, entry draft, and most of the top free-agents signed this offseason, some teams have gotten better, while others have gotten worse. How has each team faired? NoVa Caps grades each team’s offseason to date. We graded each of the Pacific, Central, and Atlantic Division’s teams’ offseason earlier last week. Today, we look at each Metropolitan Division team’s offseason.

Note: The grade reflects how much each team saw their roster improve (or worsen) and how it impacts the team’s outlook for next year.

Key:

A – greatly improved present and future outlook

B – improved present and future outlook but not dramatically

C – stood pat (C+, it was fine to do so; C-, should have been more active)

D – got worse in present and/or future

F – got significantly worse in present and/or future

New Jersey Devils

In: RHD Dougie Hamilton, LHD Ryan Graves, G Jonathan Bernier, LW Tomas Tatar, RHD Christian Jaros

Out: LHD Will Butcher, G Aaron Dell, RW Nick Merkley, LHD Ryan Murray, LW Mikhail Maltsev, RW Nathan Bastian, RHD Connor Carrick, RHD Matt Tennyson, G Eric Comrie

Re-signings: RW Yegor Sharangovich, LW Jane Kuokkanen, C Michael Mcleod, LHD Jonas Siegenthaler, G Scott Wedgewood

First-round pick: LHD Luke Hughes, RW Chase Stillman

Remaining RFAs: N/A

The Devils have made some big splashes this offseason, opening up their wallet in an attempt to take a step forward as they signed Hamilton, who recorded 10 goals, 42 points, a +20 rating, a 56.03% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 56.55% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 56.47% scoring chances-for percentage in 55 games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season and acquired Graves, who posted two goals, 15 points, a +15 rating, a 57.31% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 56.37% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 57.57% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 54 games with the Colorado Avalanche, in exchange for Maltsev and a second-round pick to upgrade their defense.

They also signed Tatar, who earned 10 goals and 30 points in 50 games with the Montreal Canadiens last season after posting 58 points in 80 games and 61 points in 68 games in the previous two years.

In net, the Devils picked up a back-up for MacKenzie Blackwood with the signing of Bernier, who went 9-11-1 with a .914 save percentage and a 2.99 goals-against average in 24 games with the Detroit Red Wings.

They did not lose anyone major except Murray and they re-signed a few of their young players. Their offseason has put them in a position to make things interesting in the division and the Eastern Conference.

Grade: A

Columbus Blue Jackets

In: C Sean Kuraly, RW Jakub Voracek, LHD Jake Bean, RHD Adam Boqvist, C Gregory Hoffman

Out: RW Cam Atkinson, RHD Seth Jones, LHD Michael Del Zotto, C Mikhail Grigorenko, C Zac Dalpe, C Stefan Matteau, RW Kole Sherwood, C Ryan MacInnis, G Matiss Kivlenieks

Re-signings: Bean, LW Patrik Laine, LHD Zach Werenski, C Boone Jenner, C Alexandre Texier, RW Kevin Stenlund, LW Eric Robinson, LHD Mikko Lehtonen, RHD Andrew Peeke

First-round pick: C Kent Johnson, C Cole Sillinger, RHD Corson Ceulemans

Remaining RFAs: N/A

The Blue Jackets have been involved in a couple of blockbuster deals this offseason as they traded Atkinson to the Flyers for Voracek, who tallied nine goals and 43 points in 53 games last season, and Jones to the Blackhawks in a deal where they got two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and Boqvist, who posted two goals, 16 points, a -7 rating, a 48.85% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 46.75% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 48.9% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage.

They also acquired Bean, who tallied a goal, 12 points, a -2 rating, a 52.4% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.77% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.86% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 42 games, from the Hurricanes in exchange for the second-round pick they got in the Jones trade.

The Blue Jackets signed Kuraly, who posted four goals and nine points in 47 games with the Boston Bruins last season, and made a couple of majoring re-signings as they gave Laine a one-year, $7.5 million extension and Werenski a six-year contract extension that carries a $9.58 million cap hit.

The Blue Jackets got a big haul for Jones, made a fairly even trade with the Flyers (where they got the younger player back), and have made a few good depth moves. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo could be on the move soon in what has been a so far, so good offseason in Columbus.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia Flyers

In: Atkinson, RHD Ryan Ellis, C Nate Thompson, RHD Rasmus Ristolainen, G Martin Jones, LHD Keith Yandle

Out: Voracek, G Brian Elliott, C Nolan Patrick, RHD Philippe Myers, LHD Shayne Gostisbehere, LW Carsen Twarynski, C Andy Andreoff, G Alex Lyon

Re-signings: LHD Samuel Morin, G Carter Hart

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: LHD Travis Sanheim

The Flyers have made some major changes, most notably on defense, after a disappointing season as they acquired Ellis (who recorded five goals, 18 points, a +1 rating, a 53.22% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 50.24% expected goals-for percentage, and a 54.48% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 35 games last season) from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Patrick and Myers; Ristolainen (four goals, 18 points, a -18 rating, a 43.49% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 43.71% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 44.3% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 49 games) from the Buffalo Sabres for the 13th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in 2022, and Hagg; and Yandle (three goals, 27 points, a -8 rating, a 56.4% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 54.23% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 55.42% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 56 games with the Florida Panthers) via free agency.

They also made a couple of moves up front, most notably acquiring Atkinson (15 goals and 34 points in 56 games). The Flyers also signed Thompson (two goals and five points in 44 games with the Winnipeg Jets) and lost Twarynski in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, where they got away with exposing Voracek and left-wing James Van Riemsdyk, who co-led the team in scoring with right-wing Claude Giroux last season.

The Flyers switched up their goaltending by letting Lyon and Elliott go and signing Jones, who has posted an .896 save percentage in each of the past three seasons and whose goals-against average has risen in every season of his eight-year NHL career.

While the Ellis trade was a good move for the Flyers and the Voracek-Atkinson swap was even, they drastically overpaid to acquire Ristolainen and got one of the league’s worst goalies over the past few years to back up a fragile Hart, who is coming off of a season where he went 9-11-5 with an .877 save percentage, a 3.67 goals-against average, and one shutout and signed a three-year contract that carries a $3.98 million cap hit this offseason. In addition, the orange and black had to give up a second-round pick to offload Gostisbehere despite him recording nine goals, 20 points, a -2 rating, a 52.23% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 52.34% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 51.2% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 41 games last season.

The Flyers made a good addition in Ellis but have also made some questionable moves.

Grade: C-

New York Rangers

In: LW Sammy Blais, C Barclay Goodrow, LW Dryden Hunt, RW Ryan Reaves, LHD Patrik Nemeth, LHD Jarred Tinordi

Out: LW Pavel Buchnevich, RW Colin Blackwell, LHD Brendan Smith, C Brett Howden, RHD Tony DeAngelo

Re-signings: Reaves, G Igor Shesterkin, C Filip Chytil, LHD Ryan Lindgren

First-round pick: LW Brennan Othmann

Remaining RFAs: LHD Libor Hajek

The Rangers’ issues with Washington Capitals right-wing Tom Wilson played (too much of) a factor into their offseason as they have made a few head-scratching moves, most notably trading Buchnevich to the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick and 6’2″, 205-pound Blais, who recorded eight goals and 15 points in 36 games last season.

They also overpaid for 6’2”, 255-pound Reaves, who tallied one goal and five points in 37 games and who has a history with Wilson, by trading a third-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights (and subsequently extending his contract by one year) and signed 6’2″, 203-pound Goodrow, who posted six goals and 20 points in 55 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, to a lucrative six-year contract that carries a $3.5 million cap hit.

The Rangers made some depth adds by acquiring Hunt; 6’6″, 205-pound Tinordi; and Nemeth. They also exposed Blackwell to the Kraken in favor of 6’2”, 190-pound center Kevin Rooney, bought out DeAngelo’s contract, and traded Howden to the Golden Knights in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick. They also doled out extensions to Shesterkin, Chytil, and Lindgren.

While the Rangers tried to get tougher this offseason, they overpaid to acquire it and gave away Buchnevich undervalue because of it.

Grade: D

New York Islanders

In: LW Zach Parise, RW Richard Panik

Out: LHD Nick Leddy, RW Jordan Eberle, LHD Braydon Coburn

Re-signings: C Travis Zajac, RW Kyle Palmieri, C Casey Cizikas

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: LW Anthony Beauvillier, G Ilya Sorokin

It is tough to assess the Islanders’ offseason at the moment because GM Lou Lamoriello is keeping his cards close to his chest after falling to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight year.

They acquired Panik, who tallied four goals and 13 points in 48 games with the Capitals and Detroit Red Wings last season, and a second-round pick from the Red Wings in exchange for Leddy. Word is that the Islanders have signed Parise, who posted seven goals and 18 points in 45 games with the Minnesota Wild last season after back-to-back seasons with at least 25 goals, but there’s been no announcement on that front.

The Islanders also lost Eberle to the Kraken and Coburn in free agency.

There are also rumors that the Islanders have signed Palmieri (10 goals and 21 points in 51 regular-season games with the team and Devils and seven goals and nine points in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games) and Cizikas (seven goals, 14 points in 56 games), and Zajac (eight goals, 20 points in 46 regular-season games with Islanders and Devils and one goal, two points in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games) but have not made it official yet as they hope to make a splash before training camp. They are among the teams linked to Blues right-wing Vladimir Tarasenko.

Reportedly, Cizikas was given a six-year contract that carries a $2.5 million cap hit.

Until more is unfolded about the Islanders’ offseason, it would not be fair to grade them but what they have done so far is rather bland.

Grade: Incomplete (C at the moment)

Pittsburgh Penguins

In: LW Danton Heinen, LW Brock McGinn, LW Dominik Simon, C Filip Hallander

Out: C Jared McCann, RHD Cody Ceci, LW Brandon Tanev, C Mark Jankowski, RW Colton Sceviour, C Frederick Gaudreau, RHD Yannick Weber, G Maxime Lagace

Re-signings: C Teddy Blueger, LW Zach Aston-Reese, RW Evan Rodrigues, LW Radim Zohorna, RHD Chad Ruhwedel

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: N/A

The Penguins got off of the hook easy in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft where they lost Tanev and were able to shed $3.5 million in cap space. They lost a couple of players in free agency and traded McCann to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round pick.

They signed Heinen (tallied seven goals, 14 points in 43 games with the Anaheim Ducks last season and 16 goals, 47 points in 77 games as a rookie with the Boston Bruins in 2017-18), McGinn (eight goals, 13 points in 37 games with the Hurricanes last season and 16 goals, 30 points in 80 games in 2017-18), and Simon (no points in 11 games with the Calgary Flames after back-to-back seasons with at least 22 points in Pittsburgh).

The Penguins also re-signed some depth players. They are also rumored to be listening on offers regarding left-handed defenseman Marcus Pettersson and right-handed defenseman John Marino.

After winning four Stanley Cup Playoff games since 2019, the Penguins opted to go for some potential low-risk, high-reward signings but bring back a lot of the same team from last season, including both of their goalies. Starter Tristan Jarry posted an .888 save percentage and a 3.18 goals-against average in their six-game loss in the first round to the Islanders.

Grade: C-

Carolina Hurricanes

In: DeAngelo, Smith, Lyon, LW Josh Leivo, RW Stephen Noesen, C Derek Stepan, RHD Ethan Bear, RHD Jalen Chatfield, LHD Ian Cole, LHD Eric Gelinas, G Antti Raanta, G Frederik Andersen

Out: Hamilton, Bean, McGinn, LW Warren Foegele, C Morgan Geekie, C Cedric Paquette, RHD Jani Hakanpaa, C Drew Shore, LHD Joakim Ryan, LW Max McCormick, G James Reimer, G Alex Nedeljkovic, G Petr Mrazek

Re-signings: LW Jordan Martinook

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: LW Andrei Svechnikov

The Hurricanes underwent a lot of roster turnover over the offseason, including losing all three of their goalies from last year and signing Raanta (5-5-2 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.36 goals-against average with Arizona Coyotes) and Andersen (13-8-3 record, .895 save percentage, 2.96 goals-against average). They traded Nedeljkovic, a Calder Trophy nominee as rookie of the year who posted a .932 save percentage (third in NHL last season), to the Detroit Red Wings for just a third-round pick.

After losing Hamilton, the Hurricanes made headlines by signing the toxic DeAngelo, who was bought out by the Rangers amid a history of off-ice issues. He had one assist, -6 rating, 58.14% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 54.12% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and 50.85% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in six games with Rangers.

The Hurricans also signed Smith (five goals, 10 points, +3 rating, a 45.91% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 45.17% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 45.49% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 43 games with the Rangers), Cole (one goal, eight points, +21 rating, 42.09% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 47.66% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 43.29% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 54 games with the Avalanche and Wild), and Chatfield (one assist, -11 rating, 44.5% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 41.45% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 40.67% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 18 games with the Vancouver Canucks) and acquired Bear (two goals, eight points, a -1 rating, a 50.53% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 55.36% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 51.56% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 43 games with the Edmonton Oilers) from the Oilers for Foegele.

They replaced the three bottom-six forwards they lost with Leivo (six goals, nine points in 39 games with Calgary Flames), Noesen (no points in six games with San Jose Sharks and Maple Leafs), and Stepan (one goal, six points in 20 games with Ottawa Senators). The Hurricanes traded Bean and made more depth moves.

The Hurricanes seem to have built a deep defense despite losing Hamilton and a formidable goaltending tandem, though the Nedeljkovic trade was questionable from a hockey perspective and the Deangleo signing was questionable from an off-ice perspective.

Grade: D+

Washington Capitals

In: LHD Matt Irwin

Out: LHD Brenden Dillon, LW Michael Raffl, LHD Zdeno Chara, LW Daniel Carr, G Craig Anderson

Re-signings: LW Alex Ovechkin, G Ilya Samsonov

First-round pick: N/A

Remaining RFAs: N/A

The Capitals have been quiet this offseason as their only major moves have been dealing Dillon to the Jets in exchange for two second-round picks, extending Ovechkin (tallied 24 goals and 42 points in 45 games last season and nine-time Maurice Rocket Richard champion as the NHL’s leading goal-scorer) for five more seasons (at a lower cap hit than his previous contract) and Samsonov (13-4-1 with a .902 save percentage, a 2.69 goals-against average, and two shutouts) for one more year, and re-acquiring goaltender Vitek Vanecek (21-10-4 with a .908 save percentage, a 2.69 goals-against average, and two shutouts) from the Kraken in exchange for one of the picks they got for Dillon.

The Capitals lost a couple of depth pieces and could bring back Chara but that has been about it. They have tried to trade center Evgeny Kuznetsov, whose point-per-game average dropped to 0.95 in 2018-19, 0.83 in 2019-20, and 0.71 this past season and had off-ice issues in the past two seasons, but his $7.8 million cap hit has made it challenging.

After a third consecutive first-round exit, more change was expected in Washington (though, players were banged up last postseason) and it is reasonable to think more movement is coming as they still need to replace Dillon, are trying to move Kuznetsov, and possibly look for an experienced goaltender. Though, the moves that the Capitals have made have been good so far.

Grade: C+

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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2 Responses to 2021 Offseason Grades: Metropolitan Division

  1. Anonymous says:

    Can you actually prove they are trying to move kuzy because the statements about him from the team really don’t read like he has ever been actively on the trading block and it’s just conjecture and wishful thinking in some of the press

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