Offseason Grades: Metropolitan Division

As the offseason continues for the NHL it’s time to analyze each team’s offseason transactions. These transactions will determine whether or not the said team will make or miss the playoffs. It’s time to look at the Metropolitan division team’s offseason moves.

Carolina Hurricanes

The ‘Jerks’ made quite the statement last season by storming their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite having a disappointing end to their season, they were still an interesting story. The Canes had a pretty busy offseason. It started just three days after their elimination from the playoffs. GM Don Waddell has been busy.

They would start by acquiring forward Patrick Marleau from Toronto in exchange for a sixth round pick, who would later be bought out by Carolina. Carolina would then trade for forward Erik Haula from the Vegas Golden Knights. Waddell would then solve his goalie issues by trading for goal tender James Reimer from the Florida Panthers. The final addition Waddell would add is forward Ryan Dzingel who was a UFA. Things would finish with Carolina re-signing two of their top FA’s in Petr Mrazek and Sebastian Aho.

Carolina has a solid defense and have locked up their key offensive pieces in Aho. Carolina will be back in the playoffs next season.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Another big story from last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets. After sweeping the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blue Jackets magic ran out after getting thwarted by the Bruins in the Eastern Semifinals in six games. Columbus had a very busy offseason ahead of them. They had four free agents that needed to get signed. However, the Blue Jackets lost forwards Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel. They also lost star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

After suffering from loss after loss, the Blue Jackets added forward Gustav Nyquist to a four-year deal. That would be the only addition the Blue Jackets added to their roster. With all the key subtractions and very minimal additions, the Blue Jackets will not be making the playoffs next season.

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey had themselves a very disappointing season last year. With a 31-41-10 season they finished dead last in the Metro. GM Ray Shero would have himself a very impressive offseason.

With the first overall pick in this year’s draft, the New Jersey Devils select Jack Hughes. Hughes is without a doubt a great player and has a terrific scoring touch. It doesn’t stop there. The following day, Shero shocked the hockey world with a trade that would send a few forwards and a few picks over to Nashville for defenseman P.K. Subban. In free agency, the Devils would sign forward Wayne Simmonds to a one-year deal. The final addition for New Jersey would be star young-gun Nikita Gusev. Other additions would be minor such as young forward John Hayden.

With an impressive offseason, the New Jersey Devils have strengthened key areas. If the goaltending can stay consistent, the Devils will find themselves back into the playoffs.

New York Islanders

They started the playoffs rolling by sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. The Islanders would follow that by getting swept by the Hurricanes in the second round. An odd way to exit, but nonetheless, the Islanders had some work to do.

The Islanders were another team that had to worry about their pending free agents. Thankfully, they re-signed forwards Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee. They did however lose forward Valtteri Filppula and goalie Robin Lehner. Lehner was a huge part of the Islander’s success in the playoffs, that is a huge loss. They quickly filled that goalie void with veteran Semyon Varlamov.

That would conclude the Islander’s offseason moves. The overhead view: the Islanders haven’t changed much this offseason. They did take a step down in terms of goal tending though. Lehner, statistically, was a better goalie than Varlamov last season. It will all come down to goal tending, but the Islanders will miss the playoffs next season. Other teams in their division improved much more and it will haunt the Isles next season.

New York Rangers

Just like their rival, the Devils, the New York Rangers had a great offseason. With the second overall pick, the Rangers drafted Kappo Kakko to start their offseason. They followed that by trading for defenseman Jacob Trouba. The Rangers also signed top forward Artemi Panarin in free agency, which is a huge offensive boost. They did however lose forward Jimmy Vesey and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. A newly acquired defenseman was also signed, young top prospect Adam Fox, who was acquired from Carolina.

It’s not as big of a splash as New Jersey’s, but the Rangers have made some great moves. The defense is still missing some key pieces. They will compete for a wild card spot, but miss the playoffs by a few points. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been a phenomenal goalie throughout his career, but he isn’t getting any younger.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers had a quiet offseason. They signed forward Kevin Hayes, defensemen Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. Hayes is the biggest prize here. Philadelphia signed him to a seven-year, seven million dollar contract, which is a bit of an overpay. However he did score 55 points last season split between the Jets and the Rangers, which gives the Flyers an offensive boost.

The Flyers did lose some pieces. They lost goalie Cam Talbot, forward Ryan Hartman, defenseman Andy MacDonald. Not massive holes, but it still shows the Flyers struggles on goal tending. Young goalie Carter Hart showed signs of greatness last season, but it wasn’t enough to get the Flyers into the playoffs for a second straight year. The Flyers will miss the playoffs for a consecutive year.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins had an interesting offseason. For the past two seasons, ex-Penguins forward, Phil Kessel, has been putting up fantastic numbers; career numbers. He scored 92 points in the 2017-2018 season and 82 points in the 2018-2019 season. Shockingly, the Pens traded Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Alex Galchenyuk.

The Penguins also traded away defenseman Olli Maatta for forward Dominik Kahun. They lost veteran forward Matt Cullen to retirement. The only other addition they added was Brandon Tanev. This is a tough call, but the Penguins are still a competitor; they will be back in the playoffs, but how far they go is debatable. The loss of Kessel is going to be the difference-maker.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals had a ‘losing’ offseason. They lost defenseman Brooks Orpik to retirement. The Caps lost Brett Connolly in free agency. They traded away forward Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche for two picks and Scott Kosmachuk, a minor-league player. Washington did sign forward Richard Panik, but they mostly lost a lot of their players. No core players were lost though, so the Capitals will be the same as last season and make the playoffs once again.

The teams on the Metropolitan division had a very busy offseason. Some moves were ground-breaking while others were minor, but the Metro is going to look very different next season.

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