Even though the season has begun, the contributors of The Pitt Blog decided to talk about many aspects of the Metropolitan Division. Winners and Losers of the summer, Standings predictions and much more. So get in on the fun and let us know what you think.
New York Rangers – Goaltender Antti Raanta
After losing Cam Talbot to the Edmonton Oilers via Free Agency the Rangers had to find a way to sure up the crease if Henrik Lundqvist happened to need a rest or possibly face injury. Raanta may not be as proven as Talbot but he will surely be able to handle himself throughout the grind of the regular season.
New York Islanders – Goaltender Thomas Greiss
A year removed from signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thomas Greiss decided that heading to Brooklyn was the right move for him and his career which will benefit the Islanders this season. Their #1 Netminder Jaroslav Halak is a very competent goalie, but after him the Isles found themselves with no NHL experience. Greiss, while not the flashiest goalie, will bring stability to that position for New York, even if he may have a habit of blowing leads in the third period.
New Jersey Devils – Adding GM Ray Shero
The Devils found themselves in a very odd predicament this summer as they parted ways with long time GM Lou Lammarillo for former Penguins GM Ray Shero. This addition will help in many ways, his ability to pull of big trades and build teams on the fly is something the Devils may want to attempt as their Fan base may not be willing to sit through a 5 year re-build.
Philadelphia Flyers – trading Zac Rinaldo
By removing Zac Rinaldo from their roster the Flyers have opened up a spot for an actually skilled player who can play the game the way it should be played. Unfortunately while moving Rinaldo was a no brainer, Philly finds themselves in a Cap predicament which handcuffed them from improving their team in other ways.
Washington Capitals – Justin Williams
WHAT I didn’t pick TJ Oshie!? Nope, reason being is this team has lacked a strong leader and voice for many years. Bringing in Orpik last summer was a step in the right direction, but adding Justin Williams will go a lot further. While Williams may not be the player he was, even, five years ago you can be sure he will demand respect from all those in the locker room.
Carolina Hurricanes –Buying-out Alex Semin
In many ways the Hurricanes were in a similar predicament as the Flyers. By moving on from Alex Semin the Hurricanes have opened up a roster spot for young talent to shine through. Unfortunately their Cap issues seem to be hampering their ability to make any other acquisitions to properly prepare for this coming season.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Brandon Saad
In a surprising move the Bluejackets found themselves acquiring one of the most promising young players in the NHL over the summer. While Saad will bring a lot of excitement and hype to a Jackets team that needs all the help they can get. Saad isn’t the be all that this team needs to reach the next level. Still though, How did they pull this off?
Pittsburgh Penguins – Phil Kessel
I bet you all thought I was going to say Matt Cullen. LOL Honestly is there any other player that was talked about more this off season? Being fans of this team has spoiled us in many ways. Just think about all the talent we have seen over the past 25 years and then add Kessel to that. Phil brings an aspect to the Penguins not seen since Marian Hossa (remember him?) was acquired in 2008.
Biggest Off-Season Winner?
It’s hard for me to say any other team in the Metro other than the Penguins. Not only did they acquire one of the best goal scores via trade, they also bolstered their bottom six trading away Brandon Sutter and adding Nick Bonino, Eric Fehr, Matt Cullen and Sergei Plotnikov. Need I say more?
Phil Kessel – Olli Maatta & Derrick Pouliot still with the Penguins Organization – enough said!
Biggest Off-Season Loser?
The Philadelphia Flyers were quiet this summer and because of that they haven’t improved in any way. They still have Lecavlier’s terrible contract which hand cuffs them a good bit and their defense is still anything but impressive. More stability behind the bench should help them improve from last season, but not by much.
New York Islanders:
Yes, the New York Islanders have a very very solid team with a lot of potential, but they had a very quiet off-season compared to their biggest rivals in the Metropolitan Division when it comes to the close contest for playoff spots.
Projected Season Standings
1st – New York Rangers – Lundqvist and the defense are envied.
2nd – Washington Capitals – Stable at both ends of the ice and strong Coaching
3rd –Pittsburgh Penguins – Too many questions on defense.
4th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Impressive up front defense strong
5th – New York Islanders – They have the pieces but can they get them together?
6th – Philadelphia Flyers – Decent goaltending, poor defense and 1 solid Forward unit.
7th – New Jersey Devils – Rebuilding, but building blocks are there,
8th – Carolina Hurricanes. – Young defense, sub par offense.
1st – New York Rangers – Lundqvist and speed, speed, speed …. oh and speed
2nd – Pittsburgh Penguins – Probably the strongest offense of the entire NHL, can the defense step up as well?
3rd – Washington Capitals – Again very solid lineup on every position, will the new players put them even further?
4th – New York Islanders – A lot of potential, but a very quiet off-season, while other teams within the Divisoin heavily improved their lineup
5th – Columbus Blue Jackets – Very good & young forward group, defense as promising as it does look like on paper?
6th – Philadelphia Flyers – Some good forwards, bad defense, “General Managing” finally heading into the right direction?
7th – Carolina Hurricanes – Young defense, still in Rebuild-mode
8th – New Jersey Devils – A lot of old and slow players & GM who likes to have those type of players on his roster
Dark Horse Team (team that could do better than predicted)
New York Islanders:
They boast a very impressive lineup and their defense seems to be a capable threat. Goaltending may be an issue with this team but if the offense can stay healthy expect to see an impressive season.
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Their group of forwards is impressive & their defense seems to be stronger than last season, but can they convert all their hypothetical potential into good play on the ice on a daily basis? Can Bobrovsky carry them through a really strong Metropolitan Division? Can Brandon Saad be the big boost the Jackets hope he will be? If so, watch out for the Jackets teasing a lot of very good NHL teams throughout the season!
What 5 Games Are We Looking Forward To?
10/28/15 @ Washington – I still like to believe Crosby vs. Ovechkin is fun to watch.
10/31/15 @ Toronto – Kessel’s return to Toronto
11/6/15 @ Edmonton – Let’s see what McDavid can really do
1/2/16 vs. New York Isle. – Their speed and skill makes them exciting to watch.
1/21/16 vs. Philadelphia – The Penguins need to prove to themselves they can defeat the Flyers at home.
10/22/2015 vs. Dallas Stars – Even though we lost the other night: Tremendous pace of the game, a ton of skill & back and forth action featured by some of the game’s brightest stars.
10/31/15 @ Toronto – Kessel’s return to Toronto.
10/29/15 vs. Buffalo Sabres – Dan Bylsma’s return to Pittsburgh & Jack Eichel.
11/27/2015 @ Columbus – Growing rivalry, great atmosphere in the arena, Brandon Saad and a Columbus Blue Jackets team with a lot of potential.
12/05/2015 @ Los Angeles – Drew Doughty as my favorite non-Penguins Player.
01/21/2016 vs. Philadelphia Flyers – Can we finally win a home game against the Flyers again? That would be great!
– The Pitt Blog – since February 2015.