Almost two weeks into the regular season, the Rangers have yet to play an opponent from the Metropolitan Division. Today that’s about to change as the enhanced Blue Jackets come to town. The Rangers are coming into this season with some big changes and they’re far from the only team that has majorly enhanced their roster this past offseason, we decided it’d be a great idea to post a quick recap of the updates from each Metro team. Let’s get to it.
The Hurricanes perhaps made the most impactful moves in the offseason. Yet while they were able to sign or obtain some bigger names, the majority of them are in the twilight of their careers. After losing Trocheck to free agency, the Hurricanes acquired Max Pacioretty for pretty much nothing as Vegas was itching to free up cap space. However, Pacioretty is expected to miss at least half of the season with a severe Achilles tendon injury. Other noticeable changes were the departures of DeAngelo and Domi who were replaced by an aging Brent Burns and Paul Statsny. To further reinforce the back end they signed Calvin de Haan. The Hurricanes are poised for another successful season, especially when Pacioretty returns.
While Columbus maintained most of their roster from last year there is one key addition they made who happened to be the prized piece of this past off-season's free agency, Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau brings an element to the Columbus Blue Jackets they haven’t had since Panarin. His arrival immediately improves the team’s scoring ability by a large margin. We’ll also get the chance to see a lot of Columbus’ high draft picks such as Kent Johnson and Liam Foudy. However, with the costly addition of Gaudreau to stay cap compliant the Blue Jackets did have to sacrifice a contributing skilled player in Bjorkstrand who was offloaded to the Seattle Kraken for a package of draft picks.
Across the Hudson, the Devils also added some new faces. To supplement their goaltending situation they traded for and signed former Capital Vitek Vanecek. They also swapped a few struggling prospects for more proven players sending Zacha to Boston for Erik Haula and Ty Smith to Pittsburgh for John Marino. Accompanying these moves they brought in two other veterans to help the young core of the team, signing Brendan Smith and Ondrej Palat with the expectations that both players would help solidify their forward and defense corps.
While the team emphasized bringing in experienced players this past offseason, pieces of their youth movement are still arriving, former top pick Alexander Holtz is expected to have a major role with the team this year. Last but not least, after being replaced in Florida, Andrew Brunette signed on with the team as an Assistant Coach.
The New York Islanders had a very confusing offseason. A lot of folks thought they would be a big player and go after some big names. They were supposedly a suitor of Gaudreau, but having missed out on him they mostly stayed put and are coming into this season with an almost identical team. Some minor moves they did make were trading for Alexander Romanov from the Canadiens who is an up-and-coming defenseman and signing Corey Schneider as supplemental goaltending.
While the majority of the Flyers roster remains similar, with the departure of Giroux at last season’s deadline the vibe of the team is much different. They re-signed Justin Braun after his short stint with the Rangers, sought out and signed Tony DeAngelo after his successful redemption season with the Hurricanes, and then perhaps their biggest move of all was hiring John Tortorella. So far the team is off to a decent start to the surprise of, well mostly everyone, but the true test will be longevity and whether the Flyers can maintain their winning pace.
The Penguins made a savvy move dealing high on Mike Matheson. They were able to acquire both Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling from the Montreal Canadiens. Petry is an upgrade on the back end for the Penguins and Poehling was an intriguing prospect who hasn’t quite acclimated to the NHL. They swapped defensemen with another Eastern team sending John Marino to the Devils for Ty Smith. Smith is a younger defenseman with quite a bit of upside. His impact may not be felt immediately, but if the former WHL star can even come remotely close to his potential ceiling this move will be a steal for the Penguins. The new additions were finalized with the addition of Jan Rutta and Josh Archibald who will both have minor roles on this year’s team.
While we’ve been solely focusing on new faces, it should be noted Pittsburgh was able to sign and extend several of their important roster players such as Malkin, Letang, Rust, Kapanen, and even the deadline asset they acquired in Rickard Rakell.
The Capitals completely revamped their goaltending situation. Letting Samsonov walk and trading away Vitek Vanecek they then signed Stanley Cup-winning goalie Darcy Kuemper. They went on to sign Ryan Lindgren’s brother Charlie Lindgren to be their primary backup as well. The Capitals made a few other moves bringing in Dylan Strome and Connor Brown to help carry the team while they deal with injuries, and signed Erik Gustafsson to help replenish their defense after losing Justin Schultz to free agency.
It’s going to be a fun and interesting year with a lot of familiar faces in new locations. The Rangers have the skill and depth to make some noise but will have to contend with a few other fortified teams.