Ugh, it physically hurts to write “Metropolitan”. What a pathetic excuse for a division name. Just awful. Sigh. Anyway, this will in all likelihood be the most competitive division in the league this season, so it’s going to be tough to nail down any sort of prediction for the final standings. But if anyone can do it, it’s me, so let’s get to it.
- Carolina badly needs a top pair defenseman now that Joni Pitkanen is done for the season. If they can’t find one, they’ll be lucky to finish any higher than the division basement.
- The top line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, and Jiri Tlusty will continue to be one of the league’s best, when healthy.
- The second line of Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, and, hopefully, Tuomo Ruutu, will be better this season, but not enough to make up for the horrible bottom six.
- Cam Ward will also be better, but not enough to offset the bad defense in front of him.
- Justin Faulk will continue to struggle without a legitimate partner on defense.
Columbus Blue Jackets
- Columbus won’t be as bad off as many seem to believe with the move to the Eastern Conference thanks to their very strong defense, which features at least the second or third best group of defensemen in the division.
- Columbus also has the reigning Vezina winner in Sergei Bobrovsky and while it’s doubtful he will replicate last season’s performance, anything close to it will make them a tough beat every night.
- Ryan Johansen will have his first good season, putting up around 20 goals and 50 points.
- Marian Gaborik will be awesome in a contract year. 35 goals minimum.
- Ryan Murray will quite easily be the league’s best rookie defenseman.
New Jersey Devils
- The Devils won’t completely suck without Ilya Kovalchuk. They’ll actually have one of their more well-rounded offensive teams in quite awhile.
- Adam Henrique will have a much better season with capable wingers such as Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr helping him out.
- Adam Larsson will finally showcase his talents and get legit top four minutes.
- Andrei Loktionov will continue to look like a steal. Expect between 40 and 50 points.
- Cory Schneider won’t be as good as he was in Vancouver, but he’ll play better than Martin Brodeur, who’s time in New Jersey is sadly coming to a close.
New York Islanders
- John Tavares will have his first better than a point per game season, scoring 50 goals to go along with 40-some-odd assists.
- Pierre-Marc Bouchard isn’t going to come close to the same production as Brad Boyes last season. Probably won’t play over 5o games either.
- Ryan Strome won’t have much of an impact this season, but Brock Nelson will spend a lot of time with the big club and look pretty good doing so.
- Evgeni Nabokov and Kevin Poulin will work more as a tandem this season.
- Travis Hamonic will enter beast mode full-time.
New York Rangers
- The Rangers are going to suck in the early going, but eventually turn it around after realizing they’re no longer restrained by John Tortorella’s death grip.
- Derick Brassard isn’t going to be nearly as good as his small sample size with the Rangers would indicate. Somewhere around 50ish points at best.
- Have this strange feeling that the Rangers will trade one of their top four defensemen early to mid-season, most likely Marc Staal.
- Henrik Lundqvist will be his usual dominating self.
- Rick Nash will finally record another 40+ goal season.
- Philadelphia will have a pretty good offense this season and the defense will be about average, which is still better than many expect.
- The goaltending tandem of Ray Emery and Steve Mason will be worse than expected.
- The Flyers will continue to have one of the league’s best power play units, but their penalty killing ability will decline in comparison to last season.
- Scott Hartnell will have an excellent rebound year after his poor performance last season.
- Vincent Lecavalier will fit in quite well as a second line center.
- There obviously won’t be any problems up front as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and co. will continue to dominate the scoreboard.
- Pittsburgh’s defense will be a little better this season with Rob Scuderi back on the team to help solidify the top four.
- The goaltending situation will be a mess, especially while Tomas Vokoun is injured. Marc-Andre Fleury has generally been reliable during the regular season in the past, but this season he’ll have his worst performance since 2006/07.
- Beau Bennett will spend a lot of time in the top six and finish the season with around 50 points.
- The Penguins will actually miss Matt Cooke’s presence on the third line.
- Mikhail Grabovski is going to love playing for the Capitals. He’ll score roughly 30 goals and over 60 points, earning himself a contract extension before the end of the season.
- Braden Holtby will have an amazing season and finish just shy of being one of the league’s top five goaltenders.
- Mike Green will manage to stay relatively health, playing over 70 games and producing over 50 points.
- Washington will continue to rule the league with their power play production.
- Alexander Ovechkin will have his first 50+ goal season since 2009/10.
Final Standings Prediction
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Washington Capitals
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- New Jersey Devils
- New York Rangers
- New York Islanders
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Carolina Hurricanes