I’ll do a quick run down of the rest of the teams since I fell way behind, and then I will give my final prediction on the standings.
Nashville ended 2nd in their division last season after a stellar season. They gave the Blackhawks a good fight in the first round, with one game decided in triple overtime, but lost in six games. This offseason, they acquired Barrett Jackman to strengthen their blue line. He’s not a fast guy, but he’ll compliment the young, speedy Seth Jones nicely. They also acquired Cody Hodgson, signing him to a friendly 1 year contract. He, like Alex Semin, had the worst year of his career, but can score 20 goals and produce 50 points in a season, so he could bring some more production to the team. I think they will be first or second again in their division this season.
New Jersey, while having a good offseason, hasn’t improved enough to make the playoffs. They fired Lou Lamouriello was fired, and taking his place is Ray Shero. A good pickup was Kyle Palmieri, who can produce 15-20 goals and 30-40 points. He also can block shots, kill penalties, and throw his weight around. Another acquisition is John Moore, who is a solid top 6 defenseman. The concern, however, is the fact that he has not played a full season. New Jersey made some good moves, but again, they are not playoff ready.
The Islanders had a great first half of the season, holding first and being way ahead of teams in the standings, then faltering in the end. The Rangers, who were 14 points behind at one point finished first, 12 points ahead of the Islanders. The Islanders did still secure a playoff spot, finishing 3rd in the conference. They ended losing to Washington in the first round. Only signing Thomas Greiss,Thomas Hickey, and a few AHLers, I believe they had too quiet of an offseason to contend. Maybe they will come out of the gate like they did last season, but I’m not quite sure of it.
The Rangers lost to Tampa in the Conference Finals last season after winning the Presidents’ Trophy in the regular season. They did not improve this offseason after losing Cam Talbot, Martin St. Louis, and Carl Hagelin, while acquiring Viktor Stalberg and Emerson Etem, so I believe with the improvements made by Washington, and at least for the immediate future, Pittsburgh, I believe New York will end up 3rd in the Metro Division.
Ottawa made that miraculous run at the end of the season last year, led by Andrew Hammond. They lost to Montreal in round 1. They had the quietest offseason of anybody, trusting the team that made that run to make the playoffs again. I saw how that played out with Carolina when they made a similar run to the playoffs in 2009, and they ended up missing the next season. I don’t think Ottawa is making the playoffs this season.
Philadelphia made some nice moves this offseason. They drafted Ivan Provorov, the second best defenseman in the draft. They also hired a new GM, which was needed. Their best move, however, was trading for Sam Gagne, who can produce 40-50 points. Even with a nice offseason, I do not see the playoffs in their picture this season.
Pittsburgh made great moves for the immediate future. They gained Phil Kessel, who will replace the lost production the Pens had last season from the absences of Jokinen, Neal, Orpik, and Niskanen. However, they gave up two first round picks for him (the first rounder next year and Kasperi Kapanen). That makes 3 years of no first round picks, which doesn’t bode well for the future. That’s the Rutherford way, though. They also acquired Nick Bonino and Eric Fehr, while losing Nick Spaling and Brandon Sutter. They improved a lot for the next few seasons, but giving up another 2 first rounders was not too smart for down the road.