The Metropolitan Division is arguably the deepest in the NHL. Each year it is a grind, with teams jockeying for postseason position for the campaign’s entirety. After watching the Tampa Bay Lightning hoist their second-consecutive Stanley Cup, the Metro has undergone some serious overhaul with the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft looming.
There have already been significant changes for each team in the Metropolitan Divison, with more still likely to occur. But without further ado, let’s break down the offseason thus far.
The Flyers vastly underperformed in 2020-21. With playoff aspirations and expectations heading into the year, they finished 6th in the Metro with 58 points. Attempting to regain their status as contenders in the Eastern conference, general manager Chuck Fletcher revamped the blue line.
Philadelphia added Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen, Keith Yandle, and Adam Clendenning through various trades and signings. In the process, they lost Robert Hagg and Philippe Myers. The added veteran presence on defense hopes to make their league-worst defense (3.52 GA/GP) into a strong suit.
Cure your case of the Mondays with some Ryan Ellis goals. pic.twitter.com/kY63EvW7Ks
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) July 19, 2021
New York Rangers
After living out the rebuild fantasy for three years, the New York Rangers are back in contention in the Metropolitan Division after adding much-needed physicality to their roster. They added Sammy Blais via trade with St. Louis for Pavel Buchnevich in a move that shocked most. But the cap casualty in Buchnevich was replaced by the signing of Barclay Goodrow and the acquisition of Ryan Reaves.
The Rangers hope that adding physicality makes them tougher to play against, and the sandpaper aspect can get them back into the postseason. The core is still intact, and an Eichel trade still looms, but the Rangers should make strides in 2021-22.
The most important move for the Capitals this offseason was bringing back their captain Alex Ovechkin. His five-year deal firmly cements that he will retire a Caps member and attempt to break Gretzky’s goal mark in that jersey. They also took advantage of the Seattle Kraken’s signing of Philipp Grubauer by trading a second-round pick to get Vitek Vanecek back.
They also moved Brenden Dillon to Winnipeg for draft picks while adding Matt Irwin. The veteran presence they had is thinning with notable players hitting the market, like Michael Raffl, who signed with the Dallas Stars. The Caps are still a solid club, but their window to win another cup with Ovechkin is closing as the rest of the Metropolitan Division gets stronger.
Other notable additions: none
New Jersey Devils
The Devils signed one of the biggest names on the open market in Dougie Hamilton, ushering in a new era with a seven-year, $63 million contract. That signing, coupled with Ryan Graves from the Colorado Avalanche, makes their blue line significantly stronger. They went to the free-agent well one more time, bringing in an outstanding backup goaltender for Blackwood in Jonathan Bernier.
Dougie Hamilton, who is better than Seth Jones and is somehow being paid $500K less, signs the best deal of the day. pic.twitter.com/Mo1vOUM2hH
— dom at the athletic (@domluszczyszyn) July 28, 2021
Will Butcher, a promising defenseman, was a casualty of their blue line moves, getting dealt to the Buffalo Sabres for future considerations. The Devils might not be a playoff contender yet, but the building blocks are most certainly there.
Other notable additions: Luke Hughes
If you were looking for controversy, the Carolina Hurricanes gave you that this offseason. Signing defenseman Tony DeAngelo who was bought out by Metropolitan Division rival New York Rangers due to his off-ice antics was a shocking move. Most expected DeAngelo not to have an NHL home next season, but Carolina needed a Hamilton replacement, which they found in DeAngelo.
They also added Ethan Bear and Brendan Smith to their blue line while revamping the tandem in goal. Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are now in goal after Petr Mrazek signed with Toronto and Alex Nedeljkovic was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. All in all, it was a hard offseason to swallow for Carolina, who lost some notable talent.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The two most notable moves for Columbus revolved around two defensemen: Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Jones was dealt to Chicago, with the Blue Jackets getting Adam Boqvist as part of the return. They gave Werenski a massive six-year, $57.5 million contract extension, keeping one-half of the dominant tandem in Ohio.
CBJ also made two moves with Metropolitan Division foes; trading Cam Atkinson to Philadelphia for Jakub Voracek and a second-round pick to Carolina for Jake Bean. With the cards they were dealt, it was not all bad for the Blue Jackets this offseason.
Other notable additions: Sean Kuraly, Kent Johnson
Other notable subtractions: none
The Penguins gave us the first big move of the offseason when they dealt Jared McCann to the Maple Leafs before the Seattle Kraken selected him. They also lost Cody Ceci and Yannick Weber (retired) on the blue line. The Penguins added Brock McGinn and Danton Heinen in a relatively quiet time for a team that has exited the playoffs early each season since they won the Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh did not improve upon their one big weakness in goaltending, leaving the position as a gaping question mark for next season.
Other notable additions: Filip Lindberg
Other notable subtractions: Brandon Tanev
New York Islanders
The Islanders started with a bang, moving Nick Leddy to Detroit in exchange for Richard Panik and ridding themselves of Andrew Ladd‘s contract. But after that, it has been radio silence on Lou Lamoriello’s front. They have been rumored to have signed free agent Zach Parise, and rumblings on social media indicate they are close to a long-term extension with Kyle Palmieri. Odds are they will bring back their current free agents, but what else will they do?
With Jordan Eberle now on the Seattle Kraken, there is a belief that the Islanders will make one big move to add scoring to their roster. The name that keeps coming up is Vladimir Tarasenko, but will it happen? We will have to wait and see.
Other notable additions: none
Other notable subtractions: none
Featured Image via Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP
Breaking down a wild few free agency days in the Metropolitan Division | E2G Sports | Brendan Azoff