This is my division and I’ll get ahead of it now. This division is home to my Philadelphia Flyers, so I’m biased but informed. Top to bottom this is the deepest division in all of hockey, and with an exception of a few teams, it’s a dog fight for the playoffs in the Met.
The Canes had a magical run to the Conference Finals, but this Cinderella story has more question marks than answers coming into 2019. Captain Justin Williams is retired and the goaltending tandem of McElhinny and Mrazek is now just the later, which exposes this squad. I’m optimistic because of the coaching and that Sebastian Aho is one crafty, cheeky, silky smooth Finn, but I think they’ll be on the outside looking in this year.
Met Finish & Outlook: 7th, Misses playoffs due to goaltending .
Columbus Blue Jackets
Torts is my favorite head coach in the league. He’s absolutely hilarious. Look at this clip and you’ll be #TeamTorts with me as well. However, the Jackets lost all three of their best players (Artemi Panarin to NYR, Matt Duchene to Nashville, and Sergei Bobrovsky to Florida), so the scrappy Jackets will be looking to rebuild the line up this year and will miss the playoffs.
Met Finish & Outlook: 8th, Misses playoffs. Rebuilds for next season.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are a team to watch this year, and are the biggest reason why Carolina won’t make the playoffs. The additions of P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev from Russia who is that KHL track suit in the locker room kind of guy, first overall pick and potential superstar Jack Hughes along with glue guys like Wayne Simmonds. This team has the league MVP Taylor Hall and a capable goaltending in Cory Schneider if he is healthy and confident. Watch our for Jersey, too much talent to not make the playoffs.
Met Finish & Outlook: 4th, Bubble Team, Makes playoffs. Early first round exit.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are like the Hurricanes but with more structure and don’t do the ridiculous post game team celebration wave. Barry Trotz NEVER has a bad team, but with question marks in the cage and limited offensive opportunities for Matt Barzal lead me to say this team will be golfing in Long Island, or on Long Island, whatever, early this summer.
Met Finish & Outlook: 5th, Bubble Team, Just a better Carolina. Misses playoffs.
New York Rangers
The Rangers made several big moves in free agency. Most notably signing sniper Artemi Panarin who’s one of the best pure scorers in the league and drafted potential STUD Kappo Kakko. This team is solid offensively and Hank Lundquist (Yes, I called him Hank) is showing no signs of slowing down or aging. Dude is an absolute man rocket holy smokes. But I think this team is also going to be starting summer early this year.
Met Finish & Outlook: 6th, Bubble team that will fade out late, Misses playoffs.
The Orange and Black, the Broad Street Bullies, the team Ed Snyder birthed has a glimmer of hope this season, and they have a chance to shock a lot of teams if they make the playoffs, which is a big if in the Metropolitan Division. Additions of Kevin Hayes and veteran defenders Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun which will serve well for Ivan Provorov who needs to step up after signing a big ticket contract which hasn’t been justified in the minds of Philly fans. Carter Hart in net is the X-Factor. He plays well we make playoffs, he doesn’t play well then we head down to the Jersey Shore early.
Met Finish & Outlook: 3rd, Makes playoffs, Deep enough offensively to make lengthy postseason run.
As long as the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Malkin they will be a presence in the Met. I know they got swept by the Islanders last year but it’s a new year and Crosby and the Pens got more summer rest than usual. You’ll see this team come late spring still playing good hockey.
Met Finish & Outlook: 2nd, Makes playoffs, Never count out Sid & Geno Malkin to get the job done in the playoffs.
With certain contracts ending this year it looks like this may be the final year for the core crew that helped D.C. hoist a Stanley Cup two summers ago. However, this team is stacked front to back and Holtby is solid and will be in the discussion for the Vezna Trophy. Expect the usual from Ovi and the Caps.
Met Finish & Outlook: 1st, Makes playoffs, Deep run expected for the Caps and how can we say no to Ovi.