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Behind Enemy Lines: New Faces in New Places, the Metropolitan Division's Offseason

Phil is in the Metro? Quick, someone buy a hot dog costume.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

I do one of these every offseason and I figured it was time to get this up on the blog so we can all hopefully stop talking about Tanner Glass for a few days (please, pretty please). Here is a quick look at all of the noteworthy (and some not at all noteworthy) roster changes in the Metropolitan Division. The 2015 offseason saw some fireworks go off in regards to moves made within the Metropolitan Division including Phil Kessel becoming a Pittsburgh Penguin, T.J. Oshie joining the Caps, and Brandon Saad joining the young Columbus Blue Jackets, but whether or not there will be any significant shifts in the power hierarchy remains to be seen. The Rangers' division is both one of the toughest divisions in the league and one of the divisions with the greatest disparity in power. Stuck in the basement are the nearly irrelevant Hurricanes and Devils and the rest of the division is tangled up in a dog fight to see who will end up on top at the end of the 82 game regular season.

Let's get right into it and go behind enemy lines to take a look at the new faces in new places in the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina Hurricanes

Canes Country | 30-41-11 (8th in division)

Buying out Alex Semin really, really hurts if you're a Hurricanes fan and it will only hurt more when he likely scores something in the neighborhood of 20 goals playing with the Habs this season. The club added Eddie Lack as the man that will almost certainly take over the reins as the starting netminder for the Hurricanes in the last season of Cam Ward's contract. Lack is also a UFA at the end of this season, so if he performs well we should expect him to get a contract extension which would mean we might finally see a change in Carolina's net after a decade of Cam Ward being the man behind the mask for the Canes.

The Hurricanes' roster is nothing to write home about. Adding James Wisniewski might help them create some more offense from the blue line but without more significant production from the Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner the Hurricanes will remain deep in the basement of the Metropolitan Division.

The development of young players like Viktor Rask, Elias Lindholm, and All Star defenseman Justin Faulk will be crucial to Carolina's success this season but GM Ron Francis is going to have to work some magic and add some more talent to his top 6 forward group if this team wants to be competitive in the 2015-16 season. We shouldn't be surprised if we see a fire sale in Carolina during this season if things don't start turning around.



Eddie Lack

James Wisniewski

T.J. Hensick

Derek Ryan

Alexander Semin

Anton Khudobin

Ben Holmstrom

Patrick Dwyer (UFA)

Jack Hillen (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$8,250,000 - E. Staal

$6,300,000 - Cam Ward

$6,000,000 - J. Staal

G/PG- 2.23 (27th)

GA/PG- 2.67 (18th)

5-5 F/A- 0.76 (27th)

PP- 18.8% (13th)

PK- 84.7% (4th)

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Cannon | 42-35-5 (5th)

To put it bluntly the Blue Jackets got screwed last season in regards to man games lost due to injury. Just how screwed did they get? This screwed (from

You poor bastards.

A rising power in the Metropolitan Division with sound goaltending and some truly exceptional forwards, the Blue Jackets are favorite pick for the team that will improve  the most on their performance from last season. A healthy young team featuring new addition Brandon Saad and superstar-in-the-making Ryan Johansen is really something that hockey fans in Ohio should be excited about. Saad did cost the Jackets former Ranger Arty Anisimov, Dano, Morin, and a pick but giving Johansen a winger as good and young as Saad was a solid move by Columbus GM Jarmo Kekäläinen. However, there is a bit of a game of musical chairs going on in regards to where all of the Jackets' forwards are going to land. The top line will be Saad - Johansen - Foligno, but beyond that it's a bit of a mystery.

Another big addition to the club is a healthy Ryan Murray who was the Blue Jackets' 2nd overall pick in 2012. Murray, a defensive prospect, is a lock to be in the Jackets defense this season and has a real opportunity to make an impact. How high are the Jackets on the 21 year old blueliner? Kekäläinen said, "To me, getting him healthy would be the best addition any team has made this summer." Murray better be good because the Jackets need a lot of help on their blue line. The Jackets have the third-lowest paid defense in the league and the second highest paid goaltender in the league with Sergei Bobrovsky, who they desperately need to stay healthy this season. There are some recognizable names on Columbus' blue line but there are very few players that other teams would covet. There is some talk of bringing in Christian Ehrhoff or another UFA that group out and give it some desperately needed depth.



Brandon Saad

Gregory Campbell

Michael Paliotta

Alex Broadhurst

Markus Hannikainen

Dean Kukan

Brett Gallant

John Ramage

Artem Anisimov

Marko Dano

Jeremy Morin

Luke Adam

Brian Gibbons

Sean Collins

Corey Tropp

Mark Letestu

Jack Skille (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$7,425,000 - Bobrovsky

$6,000,000 - Saad

$5,850,000 - Dubinsky

G/PG- 2.77 (12th)

GA/PG- 3.02 (25th)

5-5 F/A- 0.88 (25th)

PP- 21.7% (5th)

PK- 80.2% (23rd)

New Jersey Devils

In Lou We Trust (name change in the works) | 32-26-14 (7th)

Lou is in Toronto behind the GM's desk, there's a new coach on the bench, and the Devils are currently the only NHL team below the cap floor (thanks to Ryane Clowe's cap hit being on the LTIR). The addition of former Ranger John Moore was a nice pick up and Kyle Palmieri feels like a nice fit for the Devils and could and should help out with the team's meek offense. Extending RFA Adam Larsson for six years at an AAV under $4.2 million will likely look like a big steal in a season or two, but New Jersey, on paper, still has what looks like a strong candidate for the worst team in hockey. Where is the offense?

As of the writing of this article, the Devils have only 10 forwards and 6 defensemen signed with Clowe out of the picture. Several veterans from last season's club are out the door including captain Bryce Salvador, Dainius Zubrus, Scott Gomez, Peter Harrold, Martin Havlat, and potentially Michael Ryder who remains a UFA. The Devils will have a young, hungry club this season which is a good thing to have if you are in rebuild mode, but they still have to go out and add some serious talent from the UFA pool which is now a lot less shallow than it was a month ago.

Corey Schneider has been fantastic in net for the Devils since coming over in last offseason's blockbuster trade but he simply can't win games on his own. This is the final year on Patrik Elias' contract and new head coach John Hynes (the youngest coach in the NHL at 40 years old) has made it clear that he expects the 39 year old Elias to be a big part of the Devils' success despite the fact that father time is very much catching up with the longest-tenured Devil. This very well might be Elias' last season with the Devils and it will inevitably be a season where the club fails to make it to the postseason.

New Coach: John Hynes



John Moore

Kyle Palmieri

Marc-Andre Gragnani

Vojtech Mozik

Sergey Kalinin

Yann Danis

Dainius Zubrus

Peter Harrold

Joe Whitney

Scott Clemmnsen (retired)

Michael Ryder (UFA)

Martin Havlat (UFA)

Steve Bernier (UFA)

Scott Gomez (UFA)

Mark Fraser (UFA)

Bryce Salvador (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$6,000,000 - Schneider

$5,750,000 - Zajac

$5,500,000 -Elias

G/PG- 2.15 (28th)

GA/PG- 2.55 (14th)

5-5 F/A- 0.93 (23rd)

PP- 19.3% (8th)

PK- 80.6% (20th)

New York Islanders

(The Goofy and Wonderful) Lighthouse Hockey | 47-28-7 (3rd)

The 2014 offseason was filled with all kinds of fireworks for the Islanders but things were a lot less exciting a year later. A different backup for Jaroslav Halak and some minor changes in the bottom six are the only things that are different for the up and coming Isles who will be playing the 2015-16 season at the Barclays Center.

This team staying together is good news for them returning to the Playoffs and trying to find a way to get past the first round which is something they haven't managed to do since 1993. John Tavares was an absolute monster last season and promising campaigns from youngsters Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome are encouraging signs that the team that calls Brooklyn home will continue to play winning hockey for the foreseeable future.

The Isles' penalty killing is in need of some work, but their shot suppression and ability to pepper pucks on opposing goalies is a potent recipe for success. Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, and Frans Nielsen are all UFAs at the end of this season so we should anticipate the Isles working to re-sign Okposo and Nielsen who are key young forwards that they have plenty of cap room to make fit. If Tavares stays healthy and if Capuano can continue to get his young team to be a nightmare to play against, the Islanders will be returning to the playoffs in 2016.



Thomas Greiss

Joe Whitney

Louis Leblanc

Ben Holmstrom

Justin Florek

James Wright

Michal Neuvirth

Griffin Reinhart

Dustin Jeffrey

Colin McDonald

Harry Zolnierczyk

Aaron Ness

Kael Mouillerat

Brett Gallant

Lubomir Visnovsky (UFA)

Matt Donovan (UFA)

Tyler Kennedy (UFA)

Eric Boulton (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$6,000,000 - Boychuk

$5,500,000 - Tavares

$5,500,000 - Leddy

G/PG- 2.99 (4th)

GA/PG- 2.73 (23rd)

5-5 F/A- 1.08 (12th)

PP- 18.7% (16th)

PK- 78.0% (26th)

Philadelphia Flyers

Broad Street Hockey | 33-31-18 (6th)

The Flyers had what I would call an interesting offseason. Rinaldo is in black and gold in Boston, Pronger's cap hit is enjoying the dry heat in Glendale, and Jakub Voracek was re-signed and will be in Philly for the better part of the next decade. The Flyers also extended the contract of former Rangers' first round pick Michael Del Zotto at an AAV of $3.875 million for two more seasons and added Sam Gagner for one year at a cap hit of $3.2 million.

The clever addition of Michal Neuvirth is a big help to the Flyers and their struggles to keep pucks out of their own net (tied for 21st in the league in GA/G), but there is still a lot to be desired on their back line. They were also unable to divorce themselves from the Vincent Lecavalier contract despite the fact that both Vinny and the Flyers are less than thrilled with how things have been going. There is some hope that Lecavalier will benefit from a new bench boss and carve out a role for himself in the lineup.

Philly's power play was the 3rd best in the league last season but their penalty killing was the 4th worst. They broke even at 5 on 5 hockey in regards to the goals they scored and surrendered to opponents last season which is something they have to improve on if they want to get back into the postseason. The offense appears to be there for the Flyers, but whether or not their new head coach can do enough to improve the team's defensive woes is very much up in the air. Despite the lethal combination of Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, the Flyers are going to have a hard time getting into the 2016 Playoffs if they play hockey like they did last season.

New Coach: Dave Hakstol



Michal Neuvirth

Sam Gagner

Colin McDonald

Jason LaBarbera

Davis Drewiske

Tim Brent

Chris Conner

Aaron Palushaj

Evgeni Medvedev

Christian Marti

Zac Rinaldo

Chris Pronger

Carlo Colaiacovo

Nicklas Grossmann

Blair Jones

Jason Akeson

Zack Stortini

Andrew Gordon

Ray Emery (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$8,275,000 - Giroux

$5,250,000 - Streit

$5,000,000 - MacDonald

$8,250,000 - Voracek (starts 2016-17)

G/PG- 2.58 (21st)

GA/PG- 2.72 (21st)

5-5 F/A- 1.01 (19th)

PP- 23.4% (3rd)

PK- 77.1% (27th)

Pittsburgh Penguins

Pensburgh | 43-27-12 (4th)

There is no better top six forward group in hockey than the one that will take the ice this season in Pittsburgh. Crosby and Malkin (who was according to rumors a very grumpy goose headed into this offseason) will have Perron, Kessel, Hornqvist, and Kunitz on their wings. In case one or two of those guys doesn't work there are some more options on the wing including Eric Fehr, Sergei Plotnikov, and a healthy (thank goodness) Pascal Dupuis. Yep, there is going to be a lot of goal scoring in Pittsburgh this season. However, there are two sides to every coin and the other side of the Pen's lethal firepower is a very thin and fragile defense.

The Penguins need Kris Letang and Olli Maata to stay healthy in the worst way this season because after those two exceptional blueliners things get thin in a hurry. Paul Martin has left to join the San Jose Sharks and the club will not be bringing back Christian Ehrhoff who had his time in Pittsburgh spoiled by injuries. Over the past two offseasons the Penguins have watched Matt Niskanen, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, and Christian Ehrhoff walk away in free agency. The Penguins also traded third line center Brandon Sutter to the Canucks to add Nick Bonino and Clendening (picks were also exchanged) to add some more depth in their bottom six and get some cap relief. The Penguins have the distinction, along with the Blackhawks, of being one of the two NHL teams where the top five players in salary will take up more than half of the team's salary cap.

A lot of eyes are going to be on Derrick Pouliot this season, who most thought was the prospect that the Leafs should have nabbed in the Kessel deal. Pouliot is now the top prospect in the Penguins' system by leaps and bounds and they are relying on him to be the special player that analysts think he can be. The Penguins needed to find a way to get past teams like the Rangers and return to the Eastern Conference Final where they haven't been since being swept by the Bruins in 2013.  Will adding Phil, Fehr, and some forward depth at the expense of their blue line be what the club needed to get back to the Cup Final?



Phil Kessel

Eric Fehr

Nick Bonino

Sergei Plotnikov

Steve Oleksy

Adam Clendening

Tim Erixon

Will O'Neill

David Warofsky

Kevin Porter

Kael Mouillierat

Tyler Biggs

Niclas Andersen

Brandon Sutter

Paul Martin

Steve Downie

Blake Comeau

Kasperi Kapanen

Nick Spaling

Daniel Winnik

Thomas Greiss

Jayson Megna

Scott Harrington

Maxim Lapierre (UFA)

Craig Adams (UFA)

Christian Ehrhoff (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$9,500,000 - Malkin

$8,700,000 - Crosby

$7,250,000 - Letang

G/PG- 2.65 (19th)

GA/PG- 2.49 (10th)

5-5 F/A- 1.09 (10th)

PP- 19.3% (8th)

PK- 84.8% (3rd)

Washington Capitals

Japers' Rink | 45-26-11 (2nd)

The Capitals' biggest offseason moves were retaining RFAs Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson and acquiring winger T.J. Oshie from the St. Louis Blues. The Capitals also replaced the departure of the notoriously "clutch" Joel Ward by picking up the clutchiest of all postseason superheroes; Justin Williams.

Several big names have moved on through both free agency and trade but the most noteworthy by leagues is the departure of longtime Capital Mike Green who finally landed in Detroit after years of speculation. Green will most be missed on the Caps' power play, but John Carlson (one of the league's best kept secrets) and Matt Niskanen will continue to add some offense from the blue line.

The Capitals are hoping to improve on last season's heartbreaking second round loss to the Rangers after returning to the postseason in the first year with Barry Trotz behind the bench. With Holtby locked up for the next five years, Nicklas Backstrom continuing to be one of the league's best playmakers, and Alex Ovechkin starting to look like a real candidate for the greatest pure goal-scorer of all time, the Capitals are a lock to return to the postseason and be one of the heavy hitters in the Metropolitan Division.



T.J. Oshie

Justin Williams

Dan Ellis

Aaron Ness

Taylor Chorney

Chris Bourque

Zach Sill

Carter Camper

Sean Collins

Ryan Stanton

Paul Carey

Mike Green

Eric Fehr

Joel Ward

Troy Brouwer

Steve Oleksy

Chris Conner

Cameron Schilling

Pheonix Copley

Curtis Glencross (UFA)

Tim Gleason (UFA)

John Erskine (UFA)

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$9,538,462 - Ovechkin

$6,700,000 - Backstrom

$6,100,000 - Holtby

G/PG- 2.89 (6th)

GA/PG- 2.43 (7th)

5-5 F/A- 1.08 (12th)

PP- 25.3% (1st)

PK- 81.2% (14th)

New York Rangers

Journey's Don't Stop Believing | 53-23-7 (1st)

I'll just go ahead and link you guys to my article from yesterday for the quick breakdown of the Rangers' offseason moves. Here.

New General Manager: Jeff Gorton



Emerson Etem

Antti Raanta

Raphael Diaz

Viktor Stalberg

Brian Gibbons

Magnus Hellberg

Luke Adam

Jayson Megna

Matt Lindblad

Carl Hagelin

Martin St. Louis

Cam Talbot

Matt Hunwick

Conor Allen

Ryan Haggerty

Chris Bourque

Chris Mueller

Michael Kostka

Daniel Walcott

Top 3 Cap Hits

Ranks (NHL)

$8,500,000 - Lundqvist

$7,800,000 - Nash

$6,500,000 - Stepan

G/PG- 3.02 (3rd)

GA/PG- 2.28 (3rd)

5-5 F/A- 1.32 (1st)

PP- 16.8% (21st)

PK- 84.3% (6th)

Well that just about does it for the analysis and notes on the moves in the Metropolitan Division in the 2015 offseason. What do you guys think of the additions made by the Rangers' rivals? How scary will the Penguins' power play be? What move in the division isn't being talked about much but should be? I attached a poll asking who you guys think will finish at the bottom of the pile after the 2015-16 regular season, but who do you think finishes on top of it? Do the Blueshirts have what it takes to retain the division champion belt or will they be hit in the back with a folding chair by the Islanders or Penguins? Let's talk some hockey.

As always, thanks for reading. Let's go Rangers.