Metropolitan Division team trends

0:44 | NHL
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Friday July 8th, 2016

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Less than a month into the off-season and already the landscape has changed in the NHL. The draft, free agency and a couple of franchise-altering trades have shifted the balance of power, setting up some teams to take the next step in 2016-17... and others to drop into the abyss.

Today we take a look at where each team stands in the Metropolitan Division. Here are our takes on the Atlantic and Central

• Free agent signings tracker

metro Division Summer Outlook

  • 1
    washington capitals
    2015-16: 56-18-8
    In: Lars Eller, Brett Connolly
    Out: Jason Chimera, Justin Peters, Michael Latta, Mike Richards, Mike Weber
    After making bold moves to restock the blue line in 2014 and upgrade at right wing in 2015, GM Brian MacLellan hinted that this would be a summer of minor tweaks. The addition of Eller via a trade with Montreal was a surprise, a larger gesture that significantly improves the third line. Eller brings size, versatility and solid play on both sides of the puck and enhances the integrity of Washington's top nine. Connolly was a low-risk flyer. He showed skill and speed in Boston, but was wildly inconsistent. If he flops here there's no real harm, but if he can bring a little something to the bottom six, this could be one of the nicer low-buzz signings of the summer. Either way, the Caps are well situated to contend for another Presidents' Trophy.

  • 2
    pittsburgh penguins
    2015-16: 48-26-8
    In: None
    Out: Ben Lovejoy, Jeff Zatkoff, Justin Schultz, Beau Bennett
    It figured to be a quiet summer for the newly crowned champs, and that's exactly how it's played out. The Evgeni Malkin trade rumors died a quick, merciful death. The Marc-André Fleury trade rumors have been put on the back burner (for now, anyway). And GM Jim Rutherford's biggest signing in free agency was 2011 first-rounder Stuart Percy, a player whose 12 career NHL games suggest he's destined for a depth role in the organization.
    The team's most interesting move was re-signing its GM for three more years. Rutherford painted himself as a short-term transitional boss when hired back in 2014, but success appears to have changed that plan. That decision could lead to one of the team's managers-in-waiting getting a call from Las Vegas. Don't be surprised if Jason Botterill moves on.
    new york rangers
    2015-16: 46-27-9 
    In: Michael Grabner, Adam Clendening, Nathan Gerbe, Nate Holden
    Out: Eric Staal, Keith Yandle, Viktor Stalberg, Dan Boyle, Rafael Diaz, Dominic Moore, Daniel Paille
    It set up as a pivotal summer for an organization in need of a new direction.
    Well, backwards is a direction, right?
    Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has rearranged the deck chairs, but hasn't yet made a move that improves his team either short or long term. That's not entirely his fault. He inherited an organization littered with underperforming players on bad contracts, leaving him with little flexibility. Still, it was on him to find a way to change the dynamic, and that hasn't happened. And now he has four key RFAs—Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Dylan McIlrath—headed to arbitration, meaning he's potentially ceded control of his remaining $13 million of cap space to an independent third party.
    There's still time to make something happen, but as it stands it's hard to be excited about this team's chances next season.

  • 4
    new york islanders
    2015-16: 45-27-10
    In: Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera, P-A Parenteau
    Out: Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Matt Martin, Brian Strait, Marek Zidlicky
    Standing pat wasn't an option for the Isles, so signing Okposo, Nielsen and Martin to new deals would have been far from ideal. Still, it's hard to see the wisdom in taking that money and spending it on a trio of older players to take their spots. The Ladd deal is particularly hard to swallow. Giving both term and dollars to an aging power forward coming off a disappointing season is a huge gamble that's unlikely to pay off. Chimera and Parenteau aren't as risky—both are basically veteran placeholders until prospects like Matthew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle and/or Josh Ho-Sang are ready to contribute—but it's hard to see them making the team any better, either.
    There's always a chance that GM Garth Snow has a trade up his sleeve, but for now this team looks like it will be in tough to match last season's success.

  • 5
    philadelphia flyers
    2015-16: 41-27-14
    In: Dale Weise, Boyd Gordon
    Out: Sam Gagner, Erik Gustafsson, Evgeny Medvedev, Ryan White
    It wasn't expected to be a particularly busy off-season in Philadelphia, but after GM Ron Hextall said that he needed to upgrade his forward corps the results have been ... unspectacular. Weise and Gordon are veterans, but they're bottom-six grinders (something the Flyers have in great supply) not the top-six goal scorers and playmakers Hextall coveted.
    Maybe it won't amount to much in the end. Any boost Philly gets this season was expected to come from prospects Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, along with rebound seasons from Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Still, this feels like a missed opportunity.

  • 6
    carolina hurricanes
    2015-16: 35-31-16
    In: Teuvo Teravainen, Brian Bickell, Lee Stempniak, Viktor Stalberg, Matt Tennyson
    Out: Nathan Gerbe, James Wisniewski, Brad Malone, Riley Nash
    Outside of the endless relocation rumors, this summer couldn't be going much better for the 'Canes. GM Ron Francis and his staff earned high marks for their drafting, adding goal-scoring winger Julien Gauthier and offensive-minded defender Jake Bean to an already promising pool of talent. Using their cap space to acquire Teravainen from the Blackhawks was a coup. He immediately upgrades their top nine and has long-term top-six potential. Stempniak is an underrated pickup. The veteran isn't flashy, but is a consistent contributor. Stalberg and Tennyson are solid depth additions. The decision to re-sign veteran netminder Cam Ward to a two-year extension was curious, but only a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent off-season.

  • 7
    new jersey devils
    2015-16: 38-36-8
    In: Taylor Hall, Ben Lovejoy, Beau Bennett, Vernon Fiddler, Luke Gazdic
    Out: Adam Larsson, Stephen Gionta, Tyler Kennedy, Tuomo Ruutu, David Schlemko, Jiri Tlusty, Jordin Tootoo
    Just a year into the job, Ray Shero already has his signature moment. By pilfering Hall from the Oilers, the Devils GM has altered the fabric of the franchise and given new life to an offense that finished 30th last season (2.22 goals per game). Bennett, if he stays healthy, can help the middle-six, but history suggests that's a huge if. Fiddler is a great presence in the room and can help the fourth line and the penalty kill. Lovejoy will be hard pressed to replicate his playoff success, but the veteran will provide a steadying presence on the back end. Losing Larsson hurts, but the Devils finally look like a playoff team again.

  • 8
    columbus blue jackets
    2015-16: 34-40-8
    In: Pierre-Luc Dubois
    Out: Fedor Tyutin, Jared Boll, Rene Bourque
    It's been a quiet summer in Columbus, where a cap crunch has limited GM Jarmo Kekälä​inen's ability to improve his disappointing club. Tyutin, Boll and Bourque were easy cuts to make based on their contributions. The space their departures freed up was used (wisely) to re-sign defenseman Seth Jones long term and gives Kekäläinen some room to promote a couple of prospects. Dubois could be one of them. The team's decision to select the QMJHL center with the third pick stunned the draft floor, but may work out just fine given the need for an eventual replacement for Ryan Johansen on the top line. A trade involving winger Scott Hartnell is still a possibility before the season starts, but otherwise next year's team should look strikingly similar to last year's.

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