2023–24 NHL Metropolitan Division preview

The calendar has turned over to September, which means one thing. Hockey is nearly back. Captain’s skates are starting, prospects are getting ready for their camps and development tournaments, and the rest of the players are slowly making their way back to the rinks for training camps later in the month.

And with another offseason coming to a much anticipated close, there are some new looks around the league as many players are swapping jerseys. Over the month of September, tune in to our Division Preview series for a recap of some of the biggest moves per team in the offseason and a look at what the storyline for the upcoming season might be. Some players have yet to sign as of the writing of the article and are left out of the key subtractions category but are also not with the team they played for last season.

Next up will be the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina Hurricanes 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Michael Bunting, Dmitry Orlov, Brendan Lemieux, Anthony DeAngelo, Caleb Jones

Key subtractions

Calvin de Haan, Shayne Gostisbehere, Ondrej Kase, William Lagesson, Maxime Lajoie, Mackenzie MacEachern, Max Pacioretty, Zach Sawchenko

Season preview

The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the most successful teams over the past five seasons, but they’ve only made it past the second round of the playoffs once. That needs to change, and they have an excellent chance to do so this season.

What was already one of the best and deepest defensive groups in the league was made even better with the addition of Orlov. And with the Hurricanes retaining all of their goalies, Frederik Andersen, Antti Raanta, and Pyotr Kochetkov, this is a team that should not be giving up many goals at all.

But in order to win, the Hurricanes will still have to score. And that was an issue at times in 2022–23. Carolina recorded the third most shots in the league last season, but finished 15th in goals scored as their 9.2 shooting percentage was 27th. They find enough success focusing on quantity over quality, but the lack of a finishing touch could be holding them back.

With the return of a healthy Andrei Svechnikov and the addition of Michael Bunting, the organization will be hoping to find a way to capitalize on more of their chances. As the core of the team is mostly unchanged, it is easy to see the Hurricanes replicating last season and challenging for the Stanley Cup.

Columbus Blue Jackets 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Ivan Provorov, Damon Severson, Adam Fantilli, Mike Babcock

Key subtractions

Gavin Bayreuther, Lane Pederson, Justin Richards, Mike Babcock

Season preview

One of the worst teams in the NHL last season is hoping for some change and for things to finally start looking up. But with very few moves made over the offseason, will anything really change for the Columbus Blue Jackets?

They did address one of their biggest weaknesses: defensive depth. The acquisitions of Provorov and Severson will help give the Blue Jackets a defensive group that can hold their own against the rest of the teams in a tough division. Last season, defensive depth and the impact of injuries caused the team major grief. This should help in a big way.

That leaves goaltending as the biggest question mark for the Blue Jackets. Elvis Merzlikins has shown he can be a good goalie. But he has also shown he can be very inconsistent and has struggled with injuries at times. Leaving Columbus relying on goaltending depth to keep them competitive. Will Daniil Tarasov and Aaron Dell be able to carry this team in the case of injury?

The Blue Jackets may end up being a better team this season, but with the Metro being such a tough and deep division, it is unlikely they see any progress in the standings just yet. And this is without mentioning the impact of the disaster of an experiment Mike Babcock’s ‘tenure’ as Columbus’ head coach. There is bound to be fallout within the organization from that move and that sort of turmoil is not going to help the players on the ice succeed for an already struggling team.

New Jersey Devils 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Shane Bowers, Kyle Criscuolo, Erik Kallgren, Justin Dowling, Chris Tierney, Tomas Nosek, Callan Foote, Tyler Toffoli, Colin Miller

Key subtractions

Damon Severson, Mackenzie Blackwood, Yegor Sharangovich, Jesper Boqvist, Ryan Graves, Brian Pinho, Miles Wood, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Bernier

Season preview

The New Jersey Devils were one of the surprise success stories of the 2022–23 season. Their meteoric rise to the top of the Metro Division, losing the division title race by just a single point to the Carolina Hurricanes, has them as contenders moving forward.

The development of this roster has been staggering. Jack Hughes has blossomed into a legit superstar. Nico Hischier is showing signs of being one of the best all-around players and leaders in the league. The additions of Timo Meier at the trade deadline and Toffoli in the offseason flesh out this forward depth to be one of the more threatening groups in the league.

In net, Vitek Vanecek was serviceable in 2022–23, but he was not a game-changing goalie. Akira Schmid was stellar at times but is still inexperienced. The team did not address this last offseason, and it was a key factor in the Devils’ loss in the second round of the playoffs.

The continued growth of this roster indicates the Devils should be a serious challenger for the division title once again. If things go to plan, they could even be a contender for the Stanley Cup.

New York Islanders 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Brian Pinho, Karson Kuhlman, Julien Gauthier

Key subtractions

Josh Bailey, Parker Wotherspoon

Season preview

The New York Islanders just squeaked into the playoffs last season in a wild card spot but were quickly dispatched in six games in the first round by their division rival, the Carolina Hurricanes. Although this team has seen some recent success, with a couple of third round appearances over the past five seasons, they have regressed over the past two seasons.

With the way the game is changing in the NHL, focusing more on offence and speed, the Islanders may be at risk of getting left behind. Their style has focused on systems and playing a shutdown game in recent years.

Despite it being obvious that the team needed a bit of a revamp, the Islanders stuck with tradition and were extremely quiet this offseason, not addressing any of the holes in the roster. Luckily, they do have a strong defence and one of the best goalies in the league in Ilya Sorokin.

But unfortunately, with the teams around them in the Metro getting even better, and the Islanders not making any significant moves, it is hard to see them improving. They may find themselves stuck in the middle somewhere, unable to compete with the teams getting better in the East.

New York Rangers 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Tyler Pitlick, Erik Gustafsson, Nick Bonino, Blake Wheeler, Connor Mackey, Jonathan Quick, Riley Nash, Alex Belzile, Mac Hollowell

Key subtractions

Ryan Carpenter, Tim Gettinger, Wyatt Kalynuk, Patrick Kane, William Lockwood, Niko Mikkola, Tyler Motte, Vladimir Tarasenko

Season preview

After a bold play by the New York Rangers last season to make a run for the Stanley Cup that did not work out, the Rangers are looking for new ways to take the next step in their quest. The core remains intact, but, in addition to a new coach, the depth on the roster has undergone significant turnover in an attempt to find the correct combination.

With elite players at every single position, it is hard to think of this Rangers team struggling. And it is highly unlikely they do.

The Rangers will be looking for internal solutions to their depth as well. So far, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere have been underwhelming in their NHL careers and have not lived up to the hype that comes with their high draft position. They both had around 40 points last season, which are solid totals, but they are going to need more. If those two can produce at a higher rate, the Rangers could ice three high-end scoring lines.

The top of the Metro is going to be insanely competitive and the Rangers will once again find themselves in the mix.

Philadelphia Flyers 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Ryan Poehling, Rhett Gardner, Garnet Hathaway, Marc Staal, Victor Mete, Calvin Petersen, Helge Grans, Sean Walker

Key subtractions

Kevin Hayes, Ivan Provorov, Justin Braun, Troy Grosenick, Brendan Lemieux, James van Riemsdyk, Anthony DeAngelo

Season preview

The Philadelphia Flyers are in desperate need of a complete overhaul. That is the process the team is currently undertaking. After years of questionable front-office decisions, the team is finally taking those steps. Unfortunately, it is going to be rough going for a few seasons while they build a new foundation.

It is going to be difficult for the Flyers to attract talent in the coming seasons, hence their relatively quiet offseason in terms of additions. However, the roster they have assembled will be incredibly tough to play against and is built to be a John Tortorella-esque roster. With players like Nicolas Deslauriers, Garnet Hathaway, and Rasmus Ristolainen on the team, the Flyers will be able to, at the very least, wear their opponents down.

But, with the general strength of the roster, that’s about the only way the Flyers will seriously compete. They’ve lost their two top defenders in Provorov and Deangelo, which will be a huge blow as they try to fill those roles. The status of Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson, both of whom missed the entirety of the 2022–23 season due to injury, remains unclear. However it appears both should be ready for training camp, which will be a huge addition and help the otherwise weak forward depth.

The Flyers have not made any significant progress towards righting the ship, and will likely find themselves at the bottom of the division once again.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Matthew Nieto, Alex Nedeljkovic, Ryan Graves, Noel Acciari, Radim Zohorna, Magnus Hellberg, Will Butcher, Vinnie Hinostroza, Andreas Johnsson, Erik Karlsson, Rem Pitlick, Reilly Smith

Key subtractions

Jeff Petry, Casey DeSmith, Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, Josh Archibald, Nick Bonino, Drake Caggiula, Brian Dumoulin, Dmitry Kulikov, Ryan Poehling, Dustin Tokarski, Jason Zucker

Season preview

With new general manager Kyle Dubas taking over the team and quickly making his mark, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a new look team heading into 2023–24. The goal for the Penguins is to make the most of the years they have left with the core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. That required a bold move to shake up the roster, which led to the acquisition of Erik Karlsson.

Bringing in the reigning Norris Trophy winner who had over 100 points last season is bound to make a huge impact on this team. Pittsburgh only missed the playoffs by a single point last season, and a player like Karlsson is able to help the team win that one game they would have needed.

That was not the only change Dubas made. He brought in countless new players, and the roster could have as many as nine or 10 new players. It brings forth a concern about chemistry and how well all of these players will mesh with each other and how linemates will get along. The argument against that is how well the Penguins have handled turnover and injuries in the past. Even going so far as to win the Cup while missing many key players and having to let the replacements adjust.

Pittsburgh should find a way back into a playoff spot in 2023–24. They may not have quite enough to jump into the top three in the division, but they should be able to be in that race and securely capture a wild card spot.

Washington Capitals 2023–24 preview

Key additions

Max Pacioretty, Matthew Phillips, Chase Priskie, Joel Edmundson

Key subtractions

Connor Brown, Zach Fucale, Carl Hagelin, Matt Irwin, Garrett Pilon, Conor Sheary, Craig Smith

Season preview

The Washington Capitals are a hard team to gauge at the moment. They are clearly not the team they were five seasons ago, but were still finding ways to compete and were a playoff team at times last season. Ultimately, they finished well shy of a spot in the postseason and will need to change things up under new head coach Spencer Carbery.

Overall, they are still a solid and well-built team that is just aging. But finishing where they did and not making any significant moves in the offseason begs the question of just how much this team can improve and if they will even battle for the playoffs. The Capitals did deal with plenty of injuries to key players, and were missing John Carlson, Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie for large parts of the season.

There is a chance that with a new coach boost, a healthy roster, and the improvements on defence with the late season addition of Rasmus Sandin and offseason addition of Edmundson that the Capitals are competitors once again. But with how good the other teams in the Metro are, and their closest competitors making more moves to improve, Washington is likely to remain out of the playoffs.

Stay tuned over the next month as we get you prepared by previewing each division in the leadup to the 2023–24 season!

Sean Laycock

Sean is a stubborn, lifelong Oilers fan who lives by the motto "There is always next year".

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