NHL offseason grades: Metropolitan Division

National Hockey League / Getty

Divisions: Central | Pacific | Atlantic

With the NHL offseason all but wrapped up, we're handing out comprehensive grades for all 32 teams. The four-part series continues with an in-depth look at the Metropolitan Division.

Some contract figures are reported. Most players on two-way deals have been omitted.

Carolina Hurricanes

Jeff Bottari / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Ondrej Kase F 1 year $1.5M
Max Pacioretty F 1 year $7M (trade with VGK)
Paul Stastny F 1 year $1.5M
Brent Burns D 3 years $5.28M (trade with SJS)
Dylan Coghlan D 1 year $762K (trade with VGK)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Max Domi F Signed with CHI
Nino Niederreiter F Signed with NSH
Vincent Trocheck F Signed with NYR
Ian Cole D Signed with TBL
Tony DeAngelo D Traded to PHI
Brendan Smith D Signed with NJD

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Ethan Bear D 1 year $2.2M
Martin Necas F 2 years $3M

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Derek Stepan F UFA

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Jack Drury F 2nd round (2018)
Ryan Suzuki F 1st round (2019)
Pyotr Kochetkov G 2nd round (2019)

The Hurricanes had one of the most eventful offseasons in the NHL this summer, and they came away in fine shape. Carolina offset the predictable free-agent departures of Trocheck and Niederreiter by landing Pacioretty and Stastny. On the back end, the club got rid of DeAngelo and acquired Burns to play top-pairing minutes with Jaccob Slavin.

Of course, Burns will be 38 in March. Pacioretty, his old Pacific Division rival, is likely out until February following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon and turns 34 in November. Stastny will be 37 in December. In other words, Carolina's experiment is risky. But the Hurricanes only gave up "future considerations" for Pacioretty, and they didn't part with any major assets for Burns while getting the San Jose Sharks to retain a third of his salary. Stastny's contract, meanwhile, is short and cheap.

Re-upping Necas on a team-friendly pact was some tidy work, and Kase could be a savvy pick-up at a low rate if he can stay healthy for a full season.

Grade: B+

Columbus Blue Jackets

Glenn James / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Johnny Gaudreau F 7 years $9.75M
Erik Gudbranson D 4 years $4M
David Jiricek D 3 years Entry-level deal
Denton Mateychuk D 3 years Entry-level deal

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Oliver Bjorkstrand F Traded to SEA

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Patrik Laine F 4 years $8.7M
Jack Roslovic F 2 years $4M
Nick Blankenburg D 2 years $1.65M
Adam Boqvist D 3 years $2.6M
Joonas Korpisalo G 1 year $1.3M

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Jean-Francois Berube G UFA

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Kirill Marchenko F 2nd round (2018)

Nobody expected the Blue Jackets to land Gaudreau, and Columbus certainly deserves credit for coming out of nowhere to sign the biggest name on the market - especially when most thought the star winger would join one of the Blue Jackets' divisional foes.

Giving Gudbranson so much term at that cost would be embarrassing in a vacuum, but Gaudreau may have never chosen Columbus if his former Calgary Flames teammate hadn't done the same earlier in the day. So it's hard to be exceedingly critical of the Gudbranson move knowing what it might have helped facilitate.

The Gaudreau signing was a major coup, but the fact he wanted to play in Columbus surprised even the team itself; while the Blue Jackets successfully negotiated with his camp, he essentially fell into their lap, and they didn't mess it up.

That keeps them from receiving a perfect grade, as does the fact that they recouped only a third-round pick and a fourth-rounder when they traded the talented Bjorkstrand nine days later.

Grade: A

New Jersey Devils

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Erik Haula F 1 year $2.375M (trade with BOS)
Ondrej Palat F 5 years $6M
John Marino D 5 years $4.4M (trade with PIT)
Simon Nemec D 3 years Entry-level deal
Brendan Smith D 2 years $1.1M
Vitek Vanecek G 3 years $3.4M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Pavel Zacha F Traded to BOS
Ty Smith D Traded to PIT
P.K. Subban D Retired

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Jesper Bratt F 1 year $5.45M
Miles Wood F 1 year $3.2M
Jonas SIegenthaler D 5 years $3.4M (starting in 2023-24)

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Alexander Holtz F 1st round (2020)
Tyce Thompson F 4th round (2019)
Fabian Zetterlund F 3rd round (2017)

The Devils failed to land Gaudreau, who was born and raised in New Jersey. That had to sting, but the rest of their offseason went a little better.

The team brought in a pair of Czechs - Vanecek and Palat - to bolster its goaltending and forward group. Vanecek has experience as a starter, but his save percentage last season was barely above league average, and his underlying numbers were subpar. He's an upgrade over Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood, though not exactly a spectacular one.

Palat is a solid addition, but giving a 31-year-old a five-year deal at that price could haunt the Devils in the future. New Jersey's most underrated move was the acquisition of Marino, a capable 25-year-old defensive defenseman on a digestible contract. The Devils gave up the player with more upside in the Zacha-for-Haula swap and didn't get Bratt inked long term, but at least they got the latter under contract. Drafting Nemec second overall was commendable, as well.

Grade: B-

New York Islanders

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Alexander Romanov D 3 years $2.5M (after trade with MTL)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Zdeno Chara D Retired (after signing 1-day deal with BOS)

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Kieffer Bellows F 1 year $1.2M
Sebastian Aho D 2 years $825K
Noah Dobson D 3 years $4M

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Andy Greene D UFA

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Robin Salo D 2nd round (2017)

The Islanders did well to snag Romanov and re-up the promising Dobson at a team-friendly rate. But to say the club's offseason has been otherwise disappointing would be an understatement.

New York failed to sign multiple players - including Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri - who could have significantly upgraded a squad that endured a lackluster 2021-22 season. Chara opted to call it a career Tuesday, and no one will be overly shocked if Greene - who turns 40 on Oct. 30 - does the same.

Throw in the surprising firing of head coach Barry Trotz in May, and it's been a forgettable offseason for Lou Lamoriello's team.

Grade: C-

New York Rangers

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Vincent Trocheck F 7 years $5.63M
Ryan Carpenter F 1 year $750K
Jaroslav Halak G 1 year $1.5M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Andrew Copp F Signed with DET
Ryan Strome F Signed with ANA
Frank Vatrano F Signed with ANA
Nils Lundkvist D Traded to DAL
Justin Braun D Signed with PHI
Patrik Nemeth D Traded to ARI
Alexandar Georgiev G Traded to COL

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Julien Gauthier F 1 year $800K
Kaapo Kakko F 2 years $2.1M
Vitali Kravtsov F 1 year $875K

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Kravtsov F 1st round (2018)

The Rangers still look like contenders, but they're worse now than they were during their improbable run to the Eastern Conference Final this past spring. New York's offseason wasn't an abject failure, but it set the club back regardless of whether it overachieved last season.

Trocheck is a nice addition in principle, but a seven-year contract for a 29-year-old second-line center is bound to become regrettable. His arrival also doesn't offset the losses of Copp, Strome, and Vatrano.

The Rangers are still set up for success with superstars in goal, on defense, and up front. But if the team's offseason objective was to solidify its depth, it fell short.

Grade: C

Philadelphia Flyers

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Nicolas Deslauriers F 4 years $1.75M
Zack MacEwen F 1 year $925K
Justin Braun D 1 year $1.75M
Tony DeAngelo D 2 years $5M (after trade with CAR)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Oskar Lindblom F Bought out
Keith Yandle D Retired
Martin Jones G Signed with SEA

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Morgan Frost F 1 year $800K
Owen Tippett F 2 years $1.5M

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Cutter Gauthier F 5th overall pick (2022)
Keith Yandle D UFA

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Wade Allison F 2nd round (2016)
Bobby Brink F 2nd round (2019)

No team in the Metropolitan Division had a worse offseason than the Flyers. Philadelphia should have signed Gaudreau - who grew up rooting for the club - and would have been able to afford him if not for general manager Chuck Fletcher's ineptitude.

Several of Fletcher's previous moves - which were questionable when they happened - left the Flyers without the cap space to accommodate Gaudreau. But the fact that the GM was unable or unwilling to correct his past mistakes is what makes this blunder inexcusable.

To make matters worse, the Gaudreau debacle happened after the Flyers decided to buy out Lindblom, a cancer survivor and fan favorite both in Philadelphia and throughout the league. Trading for DeAngelo should help on the ice, but adding someone with a history of character issues after jettisoning a beloved player and failing to make room for a locally developed superstar equates to a shameful summer.

Grade: D-

Pittsburgh Penguins

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Josh Archibald F 1 year $900K
Ryan Poehling F 1 year $750K (trade with MTL)
Jeff Petry D 3 years $6.25M (trade with MTL)
Owen Pickering D 3 years Entry-level deal
Jan Rutta D 3 years $2.75M
Ty Smith D 1 year $863K (trade with NJD)

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
John Marino D Traded to NJD
Mike Matheson D Traded to MTL

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Danton Heinen F 1 year $1M
Kasperi Kapanen F 2 years $3.2M
Evgeni Malkin F 4 years $6.1M
Rickard Rakell F 6 years $5M
Bryan Rust F 6 years $5.125M
Kris Letang D 6 years $6.1M
Casey DeSmith G 2 years $1.8M

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Brian Boyle F UFA

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Pierre-Olivier Joseph D 1st round (2017)

The Penguins had two obvious primary goals this offseason: Re-sign Letang and Malkin. They accomplished both tasks, though the latter negotiation was far more contentious than the former.

Letang is worth his new cap hit, but a six-year deal for a player turning 36 before season's end carries obvious risk. So too does a four-year deal for the injury-prone 36-year-old Malkin. But that's the cost of letting stars become unrestricted free agents, and the Penguins clearly wanted to keep the band together whether or not it handcuffs them down the road.

Pittsburgh also overhauled its defense corps beyond Letang, but change for the sake of change doesn't necessarily equal improvement; the Penguins don't look significantly better or worse on the back end than they did in 2021-22.

Grade: B+

Washington Capitals

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

Key arrivals

Player Position Contract Length AAV
Connor Brown F 1 year $3.6M (trade with OTT)
Dylan Strome F 1 year $3.5M
Erik Gustafsson D 1 year $800K
Darcy Kuemper G 5 years $5.25M
Charlie Lindgren G 3 years $1.1M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Michal Kempny D Signed with SEA
Justin Schultz D Signed with SEA
Ilya Samsonov G Signed with TOR
Vitek Vanecek G Traded to NJD

Re-signed

Player Position New Contract Length AAV
Marcus Johansson F 1 year $1.1M

Unsigned

Player Position Status
Ivan Miroshnichenko F 20th overall pick (2022)

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Hendrix Lapierre F 1st round (2020)

Losing both a starting netminder and a backup in the same offseason would normally be alarming, but the Capitals managed to upgrade their goaltending while doing so. Washington did well to replace an uninspiring Vanecek-Samsonov tandem with Kuemper and Lindgren, though the latter has only 29 NHL games under his belt.

Kuemper, who's fresh off a Stanley Cup win with the Colorado Avalanche, turns 33 in May and will be 38 by the end of his new pact. But the Capitals needed to improve in the crease and keep their competitive window open while the core remains intact.

Washington signed Strome to a very team-friendly contract and traded for Brown, who was already on one. Those two newcomers will help offset the absences of Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson to start the season, and they should provide reliable depth once the mainstays return.

Grade: A-

(Salary source: CapFriendly)

Comments
NHL offseason grades: Metropolitan Division
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox