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Behind Enemy Lines: New Faces in New Places for 2014-15

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A look at the significant roster moves in the Metropolitan Division for the upcoming season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In Blueshirts Monthly we talked a lot about the goings on with the other teams in the Metropolitan Division. I thought it would be a good idea to carry that idea over to the Banter now that the newsletter experiment is over. Blueshirt Banter will forever be a blog focused on the Rangers, but at times covering the Rangers includes taking a closer look at their divisional and traditional rivals. Sometimes it is necessary to go behind enemy lines and get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents.

The Rangers certainly had a busy offseason and saw plenty of their UFAs move on to play for other teams, including some noteworthy names like Brad Richards, Anton Stralman, and Brian Boyle. We also saw some new faces join the fold like Lee Stempniak, Dan Boyle, Tanner Glass and Matt Lombardi. The Rangers weren't the only team in the Metropolitan Division to have a bit of a shake-up. This offseason, some big names moved in and out of the division and some old enemies will look quite a bit different in the 2014-15 season. Now, let's take a look at some of the new faces in the division and say goodbye to some of the players we are no longer obligated to hate. Let's go behind enemy lines and take a look at the roster changes in the Metropolitan Division during the 2014 offseason.

Pittsburgh Penguins

New Faces

Out the Door

Christian Ehrhoff

Patric Hornqvist

Nick Spaling

Steve Downie

Blake Comeau

Thomas Greiss

Matt Niskanen

James Neal

Jussi Jokinen

Lee Stempniak

Brooks Orpik

Deryk Engelland

Tanner Glass (damn it)

Chris Conner

Harry Zolnierczyk

Brian Gibbons

Neal out, Hornqvist in: How surprised were you by the James Neal trade? I found it to be pretty damn shocking. I had my money on Letang being the guy who would go from the Penguins, but instead it was the big power forward with a lot of upside that went to Nashville for Hornqvist and Spaling. It's going to be interesting to see if Hornqvist can score goals on the pace that Neal did now that he'll have Malkin or Crosby feeding him the puck. It will likely make the Penguins a more balanced team but they could end up missing Neal's offense pretty badly. It's also worth noting that the Penguins will have a new head coach behind the bench and a new GM behind the... GM's desk. I'm sure the desk is made out of some sexy imported wood and has a big "GM" on the front of it. Will the Penguins play a different style of hockey? It's hard to say, I'm pretty sure that they're going to use whatever style of play exploits the abilities of Crosby and Malkin.

Big year for the Flower: Another year, another offseason of questions about Marc-Andre Fleury's role and future in Pittsburgh. The Flower is in the last season of his contract and he knows that this must be the year where he establishes himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL. The pressure is on for the Penguins to have a deep playoff run and no Penguin feels that pressure more than the charismatic goaltender with the floral pseudonym.

Philadelphia Flyers

New Faces

Out the Door

R.J. Umberger

Michael Del Zotto

Nick Schultz

Ryan White

Zack Stortini

Andrew Gordon

Adam Hall

Kris Newbury

Steve Downie

Tye McGinn

Bruno Gervais

Scott Hartnell

Hartnell for Umberger?: I still don't know what the hell they were thinking. On paper, it looks like the Flyers simply lost more than they gained in the offseason, but a lot of their nucleus is made up of young players that will likely be better than they were a year ago.

Looking for answers on the blue line: Kimmo Timmonen returned for a bargain, but the contract given to A-Mac after deadline day last season, and the signings of Del Zotto and Nick Schultz really tells us a lot about how the Flyers feel about their blue line. The orange and black are looking for answers and hoping that players like Luke Schenn start to give the team a little bit more than they are right now.

Columbus Blue Jackets

New Faces

Out the Door

Scott Hartnell

Jerry D'Amigo

Brian Gibbons

Simon Hjalmarsson

R.J. Umberger

Nikita Nikitin

Derek Mackenzie

Matt Frattin

Blake Comeau

Nick Schultz

Jack Skille

Mike McKenna

Hartnell in, depth out: Getting Hartnell to compliment players like Horton, Dubinski, Johansen, and some of the other young guns was a great move but the Blue Jackets saw several of their depth and role players disappear this offseason. It was hardly an exodus of irreplaceable talent, but the bottom six in Columbus is going to look quite different, which might not be a bad thing.

Leaning on the kids: The Blue Jackets will look to their young veterans (some of them being guys that we know pretty well) and prospects to fill some roles on the team, including in the bottom six. The Blue Jackets are still very much a team on the rise and if their big names (Horton) can stay healthy and if Johansen can continue to look like a star on the rise, they should be a force in the Metropolitan Division. It also helps to have Bobrovsky between the pipes.

Washington Capitals

New Faces

Out the Door

Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik

Kris Newbury

Justin Peters

Tim Kennedy

Chris Conner

Mikhail Grabovski

Jaroslav Halak

Tom Poti (retired)

Brandon Segal

Tyson Strachan

Big money on the blue line: They signed Niskanen and Orpik? How much did they give Orpik? Oh boy. The Caps now have a lot more money tied up on their blue line than they did a season ago and not all of it was well spent. That being said, they have a new defensive-minded coach in Barry Trotz and you know that he'll do what he can to get the most out of his blue line group, no matter what they're making. There are some rumblings about this being Mike Green's last season in Washington as he is in the last year of his contract. Some big changes might be coming to Washington if they continue to underachieve.

Grabo gone: The Capitals are going to be looking to young Evgeny Kuznetsov to replace Grabovski's offense, but the center depth in Washington is something that should be a concern for Caps fans. The Caps desperately need to stay healthy if they want to compete in the Metropolitan Division. There was some talk of Brooks Laich being an amnesty buyout candidate, but that didn't happen. Will the Caps come to regret that decision? Only time will tell.

Carolina Hurricanes

New Faces

Out the Door

Jay McClement

Tim Gleason

Brad Malone

Drew McIntyre

Justin Peters

Manny Malhotra

Brett Sutter

Matt Corrente

They're gonna be bad: They probably won't be the worst team in the league, but the Hurricanes are going to be bad. Even with big names like the Staal brothers, Alex Semin, Jeff Skinner, Justin Falk and Cam Ward in the mix... they just don't have what it takes to be a playoff team. Most of their offseason moves happened with the guys wearing the suits. The ‘Canes have a new head coach and a new GM in 2014-15. I could be wrong about this, but I expect the Hurricanes to be one of the two teams at the bottom of the eight-team division at the end of the 2014-15 season.

New York Islanders

New Faces

Out the Door

Mikhail Grabovski

Nikolai Kulemin

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Cory Conacher

Jack Skille

Harry Zolnierczyk

Evgeni Nabokov

Dan Boyle (teehee)

Last season before the move to Brooklyn: The pressure is on for the now-healthy John Tavares and the Islanders to get back into the playoffs as this will be their last season playing in Nassau Coliseum before their move to Brooklyn. I'm sure they want to leave their fan base with some good memories and some optimism about the future before they call the Barclays Center their home ice.

Depth and goaltending: The Isles showed that they were serious about the plan to get back to the postseason by adding some pretty significant depth in players like Grabovksi and Kulemin, and by overhauling their goaltending by bringing in a solid starter in Jaroslav Halak and a very reliable goaltender in former Ranger Chad Johnson. The Isles are going to need to stay healthy and rely on the Tavares-Okposo connection to rekindle in 2014-2015 to be in the playoff hunt and they are eventually going to need to address their lackluster blue line. It should be encouraging to Isles fans that the team threw some money around this offseason, but I'm just not sure it's going to be enough.

New Jersey Devils

New Faces

Out the Door

Mike Cammalleri

Martin Havlat

Scott Clemmensen

Anton Volchenkov

Mark Fayne

Goals coming in: Two names on the blue line out, and some veteran goal scorers on the way in. If Cammalleri (who isn't Czech, but should be to fit the Devils' build) and Havlat can stay healthy (doubtful), the Devils will have a pretty interesting mix of forwards who can score some goals. What the hell they'll have on the blue line is another issue entirely. It's worth pointing out that the Devils were an old team going into the 2014 offseason and they managed to get even older with their free agency moves. Team speed, team health and defense are going to be question marks that the Devils will face this season.

The end of an era: Martin Brodeur will not be a New Jersey Devil in 2014-15. Say what you will about Brodeur, but he holds over a dozen NHL records and he was the face of the New Jersey Devils for as long as I can remember. With Brodeur out of the picture, Cory Schneider now is the true starting goaltender for the Devils and that, simply put, makes them a better hockey team. The Devils just gave Schneider a lot of money to be the next franchise goaltender... it's going to be interesting to see if he lives up to the contract in his first year as "the" guy.

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Well there you have it Blueshirt Banterers, the major moves inside the Metropolitan Division during the 2014 offseason. I should point out that there were many more minor moves, but I stuck to listing players that were significant or familiar (former Rangers or Rangers assets) or that have a chance of making their NHL rosters.

Which teams in the Metropolitan Division did the most to improve their team (on paper)? Which teams did the least? Which teams spent their money the wisest and the least wise? Which new weapon in the division is the one that you think will make the biggest impact? Which big name that is leaving the division are you happiest to see go? Are you happier or more discouraged with what the Rangers did after taking a look at what our division rivals did? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Let's go Rangers.