2015-16 Metropolitan Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Metropolitan Division this season.

Carolina Hurricanes

Key Additions: Eddie Lack, James Wisniewski, Kris Versteeg

Key Loss: Anton Khudobin

The Carolina Hurricanes are still in rebuilding mode under General Manager Ron Francis. But one of the major storylines to watch is this could potentially be the end of the road for Cam Ward in Carolina. There’s a huge reason the Canes traded two draft picks to Vancouver to get Eddie Lack. Also keep an eye on 2015 first-round pick Noah Hanifin. He and Elias Lindholm are just some of the pieces to make Carolina a contender again, but we’ll save that conversation for later.

Prediction: Eighth

Columbus Blue Jackets

Key Additions: Brandon Saad, Gregory Campbell

Key Losses: Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu

The Jackets made a bold move in the offseason, acquiring two-time Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad from Chicago in a trade, and then signing him to a long-term deal. For Columbus, all the pieces are in place and they should be a perennial contender in the Metro…only if they stay completely healthy. Injuries completely derailed the Jackets’ playoff bid last season, and they don’t want that to happen again this season.

Prediction: Second

New Jersey Devils

Key Additions: Kyle Palmieri, John Moore

Key Losses: None

It’s the first year of the post-Lou Lamoriello era in New Jersey. New Devils General Manager Ray Shero now has a blank slate to pattern what the team should look like for the road ahead. One of the first moves made was signing defenseman Adam Larsson to a long-term contract. Another move was acquiring Kyle Palmieri in a trade from Anaheim. It’s going to be a trying year in New Jersey, but it’s the only way a team can go forward to become successful.

Prediction: Seventh

New York Islanders

Key Additions: Marek Zidlicky, Steve Bernier, Thomas Greiss, Taylor Beck

Key Losses: Michael Grabner, Michal Neuvirth

The New York Islanders now call Brooklyn home, and when they left the Nassau Coliseum, they brought with them history, optimism, and more importantly, expectation. After surprising everyone last season, the Islanders head into Barclays Center this season with one goal in mind: proving that last season wasn’t a joke. After last season, Anders Lee, Tom Hickey, and Brock Nelson each agreed to multi-year contracts to remain New York Islanders. This YES! Movement might be a better movement than the original one that was used in WWE programming.

Prediction: Third

New York Rangers

Key Additions: Emerson Etem, Viktor Stalberg, Jarret Stoll, Antti Raanta

Key Losses: Carl Hagelin, Cam Talbot

The most successful season in New York Rangers history ended with another case of disappointment. The Presidents’ Trophy winners did the unthinkable during the playoffs. After forcing a Game 7 in Tampa, the Rangers, having never lost a Game 7 on Madison Square Garden ice, lost Game 7 on Garden ice. Not a lot has changed, but there’s more pressure on the Rangers after going into deep playoff runs the last two years. With a team like this, they should be a top team in the Metro. However, their season will begin in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks; a team that they want to be and a team they want to beat.

Prediction: Metropolitan Division Champions

Philadelphia Flyers

Key Additions: Sam Gagner, Michal Neuvirth

Key Losses: Nicklas Grossman, Zac Rinaldo

New is the word in Philadelphia. A new head coach in former North Dakota bench boss Dave Hakstol, new as in Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier’s contract extensions, and the influx of youth highlight what the Flyers have. Take a look at their previous first-round draft picks that the Flyers have: forward Scott Laughton, defenseman Sam Morin, defenseman Travis Sanheim, defenseman Ivan Provorov, and forward Travis Konecny. Some of them might need a little seasoning in Allentown playing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but you know that there’s some optimism coming ahead for the Flyers.

Prediction: Sixth

Pittsburgh Penguins

Key Additions: Phil Kessel, Eric Fehr

Key Losses: Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter

Historically when you talk about a “Big Three” in hockey, it refers to the trio of legendary Canadiens defensemen Guy Lapointe, Larry Robinson, and Serge Savard. Those three were the backbone of the Habs winning four straight Stanley Cup Championships in the late 1970s. Never before has a “Big Three” in hockey been talked about three prolific forwards playing for the same team. That’s what the Penguins have when they acquired Phil Kessel from Toronto. After just barely making the playoffs because of injuries throughout the roster, the Pens hope that with the addition of Kessel, they’ll contend in the Metro.

Prediction: Fifth

Washington Capitals

Key Addition: T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams

Key Losses: Troy Brouwer, Mike Green, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward

For the Capitals, last season was pretty much a success. They won the Winter Classic at home, Alex Ovechkin won the Rocket Richard Award again, they beat one New York team in the first round, and took the other New York team to the distance in the second round of the playoffs. Expectations are pretty much still high, but with the way this team is built, especially with the addition of both T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams, they could easily meet those expectations this season.

Prediction: Fourth

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