The next division we are going to look at is the Metropolitan Division.
This division is arguably the most contested and tightest out of the four divisions in the NHL.
1. Washington Capitals:
The Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division four years in a row, finishing last season with 104 points.
This roster still remains primarily in tact from when Washington won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago, with one of the best top nine up front consisting of Ovechkin, Oshie, Backstrom, Vrana, Eller, Wilson, Kuznetsov (after serving his suspension), Hagelin, and Panik.
Their defense could be a little deeper for a contender, however with Holtby in net the Capitals should certainly be able to win their fifth consecutive Metropolitan Division.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins:
Pittsburgh finished third in the Metropolitan Division with 100 points, behind the New York Islanders, and then went on to be swept in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs; their earliest post-season exit since the 2014-15 season.
Returning with their two headed monster up front, the Penguins have to be looking to make a statement this season with a deep playoff run.
Although some of the Penguins key players are starting to age, this Pittsburgh team led by Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel, Hornqvist, and Galchenyuk will look to have yet another top five power play.
With Dumoulin, Letang, Schultz, and Johnson on defense, Matt Murray in net has no excuse to get the job done in order for the Penguins to find themselves back deep in the Playoffs.
3. Carolina Hurricanes:
After making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season with 99 points, the Hurricanes found themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals, however were swept by the Boston Bruins.
In my opinion this team is even stronger than last year’s team.
With Svechnikov, Aho, Teravainen, Dzingel, Staal, Haula, and Niederreiter up front, and Slavin, Gardiner, Hamilton, Faulk, and Trevor van Riemsdyk on Defense, Carolina now has a roster that should not be taken lightly.
Expect to see the Hurricanes back in the playoffs this season.
4. Philadelphia Flyers:
The Flyers, despite over paying for Kevin Hayes, had a successful off-season, and currently show a lot of potential.
Philadelphia now has a top nine of Giroux, Couturier, Konecny, James van Riemsdyk, Hayes, Voracek, Lindblom, Nolan Patrick, and Laughton.
Even on Defense the Flyers certainly have a respectable group consisting of Provorov, Gostibehere, Sanheim, Braun, and Niskanen.
The biggest concern for the Flyers is Carter Hart in net, who recorded a save percentage of .917, and a goals against average of 2.83 in 31 games for Philadelphia last season.
Philadelphia is in the hunt this season for a Wild Card spot, however could struggle if their problems in net are not solved this year.
5. New York Islanders:
The Islanders finished second in the Metropolitan Division last season with 103 points, and allowed the least goals against in the Regular Season.
However the loss of Goaltender Robin Lehner is certainly going to be felt, along with the fact that New York did not have an active off-season, which consisted of several free agents such as Artemi Panarin.
New York will have another solid season this year, although with the level of competition within this division, the only chance the Islanders may find themselves in the Playoffs this year will be through a Wild Card spot.
6. New Jersey Devils:
After finishing last in the Metropolitan Division last season with 72 points, GM Fred Shero went on a shopping spree this off-season.
Additions such as P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, and Nikita Gusev will definitely improve the Devils.
Also drafting Jack Hughes First Overall in the Entry Draft will prove to be a tremendous addition.
As it stands the Devils top six contains Taylor Hall, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Palmieri, Gusev, and Simmonds.
On Defense the Devils are solid with Vatanen, Subban, Green, Severson, and Butcher.
If Cory Schneider can play up to his ability, along with the Forwards finding the back of the net, New Jersey will have an exciting season.
7. New York Rangers:
The Rangers are in the middle of a rebuild, and although New York had a great off-season, I believe they still have a ways to go.
Yes New York added Panarin, and Trouba to the roster, but the Rangers still significantly lack depth after their top line on Forward, and Defense.
Second overall pick Kaapo Kakko shows potential, but yet again who knows if he will have an immediate impact, or will need a season or two to grow into the NHL.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets:
After winning their first playoff series as a franchise in a 4-0 series sweep over the heavily favored Lightning, the Blue Jackets completely disbanded this off-season.
Panarin, Duchene, Bobrovsky, and Dzingel consist of their significant loses.
Up front Columbus is left with Foligno, Dubois, and Atkinson to pick up the pieces; on Defense the Blue Jackets depth drastically drops after Werenski, Seth Jones, and Savard.
Tortorella is a great coach, however I am concerned about how much he can really do with what he has left.
This is yet another season which no one should be surprised if the Metropolitan Division sends five teams to the playoffs for the third season in a row.
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