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Second City Hockey’s 2022-23 season preview: Metropolitan Division

We take a look at the Metropolitan Division ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

We start off our countdown to the start of the NHL’s 2022-23 regular season with a look at the rest of the NHL, beginning with the Metropolitan Division.

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes

Last season: 54-20-8 (116 points), first place in Metropolitan Division, lost in semifinal round

Key losses: F Vincent Trocheck, F Nino Niederreiter, F Max Domi, D Ian Cole
Key additions: D Calvin de Haan, F Paul Stastny, D Brent Burns

The Hurricanes are back-to-back Metropolitan Division champions, thanks to the growth of their young talent and overall franchise depth. Although Carolina lost a handful of top-six forwards in the offseason, they arguably got a bit better on defense. The Canes have a long road ahead of them this upcoming season and will need to make every game count if they want a divisional three-peat. But this is still a dangerous squad with a lot of firepower. Don’t be surprised to see them back in the playoffs in 2023.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Last season: 37-38-7 (81 points), sixth place in Metropolitan Division
Key losses: F Oliver Bjorkstrand
Key additions: F Johnny Gaudreau, D Erik Gudbranson

Columbus shocked the hockey world when they announced the signing of former-Flames star Johnny Gaudreau. While this move was unexpected, it showed that the Blue Jackets are serious about their rebuild. Adding “Johnny Hockey” to a team that already had Patrick Laine and Jack Roslovic gives the Jackets a serious offensive attack. If they can get solid goaltending and their blue line continues to improve, they could be a serious threat in the division.

New Jersey Devils

Last season: 27-46-9 (45 points), seventh place in Metropolitan Division
Key losses: D P.K. Subban, D Ty Smith, F Pavel Zacha
Key additions: F Ondrej Palat, D John Marino, Erik Haula D

It’s no secret that the Devils have not had much to cheer about as of late. But with a young core and some nice off-season additions, they will have a chance to prove their worth in the upcoming campaign. While veteran defensemen, P.K. Subban announced his retirement, New Jersey mad an effort to add some solid blue liners to their lineup to fill that gap. The forward group gained forever Lightning star, Ondrej Palat. The 10-year veteran has a pair of Stanley Cup Championships to his name and could provide a big spark for the Devils moving forward.

New York Islanders

Last season: 37-35-10 (84 points), fifth place in Metropolitan Division
Key losses: D Zdeno Chara, D Andy Greene
Key additions: D Dennis Cholowski, D Seth Helgeson

The best word to describe the 2021-22 Islanders would be “disappointing”. After being a serious threat to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Lightning in 2021, the Islanders started off last season of the wrong foot — losing 15 of their first 20 games — and never really recovered. It’s hard to tell what challenges the Islanders will present to opponents into this season, but it’s also hard to believe they could be as bad as they were last season.

New York Rangers

Last season: 52-24-6 (110 points), second place in Metropolitan Division, lost in Conference Final
Key losses: G Alexander Georgiev, F Andrew Copp, F Frank Vatrano, D Patrick Nemeth
Key additions: D Matt Bartkowski, F Vincent Trocheck, G Jaroslav Halak, G Louis Domingue

The biggest offseason acquisition for the Rangers during the 2021 offseason was arguably coach Gerard Gallant, who managed the superstar egos of the forward group while getting a subpar blue line to buy into his system. Gallant had already proved his worth behind the bench when he took the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018 and showed it again last season. New York undoubtedly has some star power again, but they’ll need the defense cannot to it down in their own end and Igor Shesterkin to provide consistent play in net. If not, it won’t matter how many points Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin and company rack up. The Blue Shirts will certainly be an interesting team to watch.

Philadelphia Flyers

Last season: 25-46-11 (61 points), eight place in Metropolitan Division
Key losses: F Claude Giroux, D Keith Yandle
Key additions: F Artem Anisimov, D Tony DeAngelo

The Flyers find themselves somewhere between a rock and a hard place. They’re in the middle of a rebuild but it’s hard to tell how far along they are in that process (sounds familiar). There have been a lot of moving parts filtering though the organization and preseason health concerns for Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis won’t help the Flyers be much better in 2022-23.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Last season: 46-25-11 (103 points), third place in Metropolitan Division, lost in first round
Key losses: F Evan Rodrigues, D John Marino, G Louis Domingue
Key additions: F Drake Caggiula, D Jan Rutta, D Ty Smith, D Jeff Petry

The trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have been together longer than any other threesome in North American sports history. And while it’s difficult to see this years Pens team in any sort of “Last Dance” scenario, you can never really count the “City of Champ-Yinz” out. The Black & Gold re-loaded on the back end and have a very good group of forwards. Coach Mike Sullivan’s main concern this year may just be the health and consistency of the team’s goaltending. Pittsburgh will more than likely keep things interesting during the 2022-23 regular season, and maybe into the playoffs.

Washington Capitals

Last season: 44-26-12 (100 points), fourth place in Metropolitan Division, lost in first round
Key losses: D Justin Schultz, D Michal Kempny
Key additions: G Darcy Kuemper, F Dylan Strome, F Henrik Borgstrom, D Erik Gustafsson

The Capitals roster has stayed largely consistent — save for adding three former Blackhawks — but the competition in the Metropolitan is fierce and the aging Washington core will have to stay a step ahead of the competition in order to stay relevant. IA largely veteran group, Washington knows what they need to do to win, but execution will be key. The addition of goalie Darcy Kuemper is the most notable for the Caps, as games will likely be tight and the difference between wins and losses might come down to goaltending more often than not.