NHL offseason grades: Metropolitan Division
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Divisions:
Metropolitan |
Central
Pacific | Atlantic

The Metropolitan Division sent five teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and it projects to be tightly contested once again in 2019-20.

Multiple teams underwent drastic changes this summer to potentially shift the balance of power in the eight-team race. With signings, trades, and more all in the books, here's a look at how each Metro team fared in a busy offseason.

Some contract figures are reported. Most players on two-way deals have been omitted. Total contract value does not include bonuses.

Carolina Hurricanes

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Jake Gardiner D 4 years $16.2M
Ryan Dzingel C/W 2 years $6.75M
Erik Haula LW 1 year $2.75M (trade with VGK)
James Reimer G 2 years $6.2M (trade with FLA)
Gustav Forsling D 1 year $874K (trade with CHI)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Justin Williams RW Taking break from NHL*
Micheal Ferland LW Signed with VAN
Greg McKegg C Signed with NYR
Curtis McElhinney G Signed with TBL
Scott Darling G Traded to FLA
Calvin de Haan D Traded to CHI
Aleksi Saarela C Traded to CHI
Adam Fox D Traded to NYR

*Williams is yet to decide if he'll play in 2019-20.

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Sebastian Aho C 5 years $42.27M
Petr Mrazek G 2 years $6.25M
Brock McGinn LW 2 years $4.2M
Haydn Fleury D 1 year $850K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Martin Necas C 1st round (2017)
Jake Bean D 1st round (2016)
Julien Gauthier RW 1st round (2016)
Alex Nedeljkovic G 2nd round (2014)

The Hurricanes underwent a ton of turnover for a team that finally took a step forward a season ago. However, they project to be even better in 2019-20. Gardiner fills a hole on the left side of the blue line, while both Haula and Dzingel were smart, low-risk additions to help bolster their forward corps. Reimer should be a solid backup option so long as he stays healthy.

Carolina has a ton of young, promising players coming up the pipeline, and the club had a tremendous draft in June to further boost its stock of prospects. With all that said, the biggest win of the offseason for general manager Don Waddell came from the Montreal Canadiens, who allowed the Canes to sign their franchise center to a reasonable cap hit due to an underwhelming offer sheet.

Grade: B+

Columbus Blue Jackets

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Gustav Nyquist RW 4 years $22M
Marko Dano C/W 1 year $800K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Artemi Panarin LW Signed with NYR
Sergei Bobrovsky G Signed with FLA
Matt Duchene C Signed with NSH
Ryan Dzingel C/W Signed with CAR

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Zach Werenski D 3 years $15M
Ryan Murray D 2 years $9.2M
Scott Harrington D 3 years $4.9M
Joonas Korpisalo G 1 year $1.15M
Adam Clendening D 2 years $1.4M
Sonny Milano LW 1 year $874K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Emil Bemstrom RW 4th round (2017)
Alexandre Texier C 2nd round (2017)

The Blue Jackets were hit harder than any team this summer, as all three of their unrestricted free-agent superstars opted to walk for brighter lights or warmer weather. Columbus' roster is now significantly worse after losing high-level offensive talent and one of the NHL's best starting goaltenders.

Jarmo Kekalainen's dicey series of trades last season left the club with only three selections in June's draft, and Columbus was unable to make any signings of impact aside from Nyquist, who likely isn't enough to move the needle much on his own.

The only bright spot in an otherwise dreary summer for the Blue Jackets was getting restricted free-agent defenseman Zach Werenski signed ahead of training camp on a contract that could soon look like a bargain.

Grade: D

New Jersey Devils

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
P.K. Subban D 3 years $27M (trade with NSH)
Wayne Simmonds RW 1 year $5M
Nikita Gusev LW 2 years $9M (trade with VGK)
Jack Hughes C 3 years $2.775M (drafted No. 1 overall)
Matt Tennyson D 2 years $1.4M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Steven Santini D Traded to NSH
Stefan Noesen RW Didn't receive qualifying offer
Kenny Agostino LW Signed with TOR

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Will Butcher D 3 years $11.2M
Mirco Mueller D 1 year $1.4M
Connor Carrick D 2 years $3M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Jack Hughes C 1st round (2019)
Michael McLeod C 1st round (2016)
Ty Smith D 1st round (2018)

Things simply couldn't have gone better for the Devils this summer, who quickly erased the memory of a disappointing 2018-19 season with a series of high-profile additions. Taking Hughes with the first pick was a no-brainer, but Ray Shero also swung for the fences to help his team become immediately more competitive.

Subban's market was reportedly hot around draft time, and Shero parted with no significant pieces to reel in one of the NHL's biggest stars. The Gusev deal was shrewd as well - Vegas couldn't afford him, and rather than hesitate at the Russian's experience level, Shero took a chance on a player with scintillating offensive upside.

The Devils were easily one of this offseason's biggest winners, and at the very least, should be incredibly fun to watch this year as a result.

Grade: A+

New York Islanders

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Semyon Varlamov G 4 years $20M
Derick Brassard C 1 year $1.2M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Robin Lehner G Signed with CHI
Valtteri Filppula C Signed with DET

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Anders Lee LW 7 years $49M
Jordan Eberle RW 5 years $27.5M
Brock Nelson C 6 years $36M
Anthony Beauvillier LW 2 years $4.2M
Michael Dal Colle LW 2 years $1.4M
Josh Ho-Sang RW 1 year $874K
Tom Kuhnhackl RW 1 year $850K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Noah Dobson D 1st round (2018)
Oliver Wahlstrom RW 1st round (2018)
Kieffer Bellows LW 1st round (2016)

The Isles operated mostly in-house this summer, taking care of extensions for numerous key forwards. All the contracts are fairly reasonable, but without making a big free-agent splash, it's tough to make a convincing argument that New York is any better than it was a season ago.

It'll be a major blemish on Lou Lamoriello's ledger if Varlamov is worse in goal than Lehner, as the Vezina finalist made it clear he fully intended to remain an Islander. Will the Islanders' quiet offseason be enough for them to remain competitive in the ultra-tight Metro? Only time will tell.

Grade: C

New York Rangers

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Artemi Panarin LW 7 years $81.5M
Jacob Trouba D 7 years $56M (trade with WPG)
Kaapo Kakko RW 3 years $2.775M (drafted No. 2 overall)
Adam Fox D 3 years $2.775M (trade with CAR)
Phillip Di Giuseppe LW 1 year $700K
Greg McKegg C 1 year $750K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Kevin Shattenkirk D Bought out
Jimmy Vesey LW Traded to BUF

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Pavel Buchnevich RW 2 years $6.5M
Vinni Lettieri C 1 year $700K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Kaapo Kakko RW 1st round (2019)
Vitali Kravtsov RW 1st round (2018)
Adam Fox D 3rd round (2016 - CGY)

Much like the rival Devils across the Hudson River, the Rangers had a buzz-worthy summer. They brought in four huge building blocks in Panarin, Trouba, Kakko, and Fox, and suddenly the Blueshirts' rebuild looks well ahead of schedule.

It wasn't a perfect summer for the Rangers, however. Shattenkirk's underwhelming Broadway tenure came to an abrupt end in August, and his buyout is untidy business. There are still issues on the Rangers' blue line even with Shattenkirk out of the picture, and he'll remain on the books for four more seasons.

Overall, the Rangers had one of the most productive summers in the NHL and made significant strides toward progress.

Grade: A

Philadelphia Flyers

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Kevin Hayes C 7 years $50M
Justin Braun D 1 year left $3.8M (trade with SJS)
Matt Niskanen D 2 years left $11.5M (trade with WSH)
Tyler Pitlick RW 1 year left $1M (trade with DAL)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Ryan Hartman RW Traded to DAL
Cam Talbot G Signed with CAL
Radko Gudas D Traded to WSH
Michal Neuvirth G Signed PTO with TOR
Justin Bailey RW Didn't receive qualifying offer

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Scott Laughton C 2 years $4.6M
Brian Elliott G 1 year $2M
Travis Sanheim D 2 years $6.5M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
German Rubstov C 1st round (2016)
Isaac Ratcliffe LW 2nd round (2017)
Morgan Frost C 1st round (2017)
Joel Farabee LW 1st round (2018)

The Flyers likely overpaid for Hayes, but their depth chart down the middle certainly looks better with him in the fold. But if the 27-year-old struggles to produce in Philly, GM Chuck Fletcher will be under heavy fire.

Elsewhere, Fletcher's pair of trades for defensemen were perplexing. He dished out a second-round and third-round pick for Braun - a middle-pairing contributor at best - and acquired Niskanen for the younger, cheaper, and more effective Gudas. We'll see how it works out, but on paper, it's tough to pinpoint Philadelphia's strategy.

Grade: C-

Pittsburgh Penguins

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Alex Galchenyuk C/W 1 year left $3.9M (trade with ARI)
Brandon Tanev RW 6 years $21M
Dominik Kahun RW 1 year left $925K (trade with CHI)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Phil Kessel RW Traded to ARI
Olli Maatta D Traded to CHI
Matt Cullen C Retired

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Zach Aston-Reese C/W 2 years $2M
Teddy Blueger C/W 2 years $1.5M
Juuso Riikola D 1 year $850K
Chad Ruhwedel D 2 years $1.4M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

N/A

It was a weird summer in Pennsylvania.

While the Flyers may have lined Hayes' pockets a little too lavishly, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford doled out one of the most obscene overpays in recent memory on July 1 for Tanev. The 27-year-old winger is certainly a good depth piece, but a six-year term for a player with a career high of 14 goals is pushing it.

The biggest move for the Pens, though, was the Kessel deal. They shipped the sniper to Arizona in exchange for Galchenyuk - an unrestricted free agent next summer - and prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph. If the former doesn't find his stride in Pittsburgh, the trade will be a big black mark on Rutherford's resume.

Grade: D

Washington Capitals

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length Total Value
Garnet Hathaway LW 4 years $6M
Richard Panik LW 4 years $11M
Radko Gudas D 1 year left $2.345M (trade with PHI)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Andre Burakovsky F Traded to COL
Matt Niskanen D Traded to PHI
Brett Connolly RW Signed with FLA
Brooks Orpik D Retired

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length Total Value
Chandler Stephenson LW 1 year $1.05M
Christian Djoos D 1 year $1.25M
Jakub Vrana LW 2 years $6.7M
Carl Hagelin LW 4 years $11M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Ilya Samsonov G 1st round (2015)
Lucas Johansen D 1st round (2016)
Alexander Alexeyev D 1st round (2018)

The Capitals had a fairly low-key offseason, and while that's not always a bad thing, general manager Brian MacLellan should have done more to improve the club with Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom both now one season away from potential unrestricted free agency.

The GM did get Vrana under contract on a team-friendly bridge deal, but he also gave identical four-year deals to bottom-six forwards Panik and Hagelin, and he did both before taking care of his promising, young top-six winger.

Washington saved some money and got the younger of the two defensemen in the Gudas-for-Niskanen trade, but considering how much a few of the Capitals' Metropolitan Division rivals improved his summer (including the Hurricanes, who knocked them out of the first round in the spring), this team might regret not doing more.

Grade: C+

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NHL offseason grades: Metropolitan Division
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