2022-23 NHL Metropolitan Division Preview
The Metropolitan Division was one of the busiest divisions during the NHL offseason, with several big moves being made by teams to try and gain control of an incredibly competitive division.
The Carolina Hurricanes are the pre-season favorites to win the division and for good reason. The reigning division champions brought in Brent Burns to solidify the back end along with Max Pacioretty to improve the scoring woes.
Although Pacioretty is out for several months with an Achilles injury, the Hurricanes should be able to hold their own, with the additions of Paul Stastny and Ondrej Kase bolstering the middle six.
Another team looking to have a repeat performance of last season is the New York Rangers, who knocked out the Hurricanes in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and were two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.
The Rangers signed Vincent Trocheck and Jaroslav Halak in the off-season to help solidify center depth and goaltending issues behind Vezina winner Igor Shesterkin.
While the losses of Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrono sting, the Blueshirts' young core now has no excuses to not live up to their unmatched potential.
As for their counterpart on Long Island, the Islanders, they have had a surprisingly quiet off-season, trading for Alex Romanov and re-signing Matt Barzal.
After a very disappointing 2021-2022 campaign, Lou Lamoriello is praying for last year to be a fluke or his seat will be hot by season’s end.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are two teams trying to hold on desperately to the past.
The Penguins brought in Jeff Petry to try and fix a very shaky defensive core, but the main story of the offseason was re-signing Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to four-year and six-year deals, respectively. Keeping the core for the next few seasons is the Penguins' best chance and reaching the Stanley Cup once more.
As for the Capitals, Dylan Strome and Connor Brown will look to add scoring depth, while all of Nicklas Backstrom, Carl Hagelin, and Tom Wilson will miss the start of the season. The main concern for the D.C. team is goaltending, as they moved on from Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek and gave the reins to Darcy Kuemper.
While rolling with Kuemper in net could raise some questions, all eyes are on Ovechkin and his chase to beat Gretzky’s goal record. The Great Eight is only 115 goals away and is signed until 2026, giving him plenty of time to rewrite history.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were the big winners in free agency over the summer, signing superstar forward Johnny Gaudreau to a massive seven-year deal.
The New Jersey native had 115 points last season and will be a key catalyst in the Blue Jackets' attempt to make it back to the postseason.
Rounding out the Metropolitan Division are the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.
The Devils were busy all off-season, signing Ondrej Palat and trading for Erik Haula and Vitek Vanicek.
Vanicek will look to ease the load of Mackenzie Blackwood, who is yet to blossom into the premier goaltender the Devils believe he can be. Haula and Palat will slot nicely into the middle six and mesh well with the young offensive core of New Jersey.
As for the Flyers, it was a letdown of an off-season, according to their fans. They missed out on signing Gaudreau and had to settle and trade for Tony DeAngelo on the back end.
Bringing in John Tortorella as head coach is a high-risk, high-reward scenario for the Flyers, but Tortorella has the potential to bring the team back to its former glory.
The Metropolitan Division is always full of surprises, and this year is sure to be no different. Only time will tell who will reign supreme in this division, with the NHL season kicking off Friday, Oct. 7.
Joshua Bartosik is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.