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Penguins, Rangers, Capitals headline PHT’s mighty Metro Division preview

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game Seven

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Lars Eller #20 of the Washington Capitals and Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins exchange words in the first period in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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The Metropolitan Division hasn’t just produced the last two Stanley Cup winners (Pittsburgh Penguins) and last two Presidents’ Trophy winners (Washington Capitals).

It’s also a division that runs deep. The Columbus Blue Jackets took the league by storm in 2016-17, and while Sergei Bobrovsky might not be sensational again, many still believe they’re legit. The New York Rangers and New York Islanders still boast significant strengths, while the Carolina Hurricanes are dark horse candidates once more.

Even the New Jersey Devils keep adding promising talent.

Let’s preview what might once again be the best division in the NHL.

Also, check out these other previews: Atlantic Division, Central Division, PHT’s picks and predictions.

Carolina Hurricanes

Poll/looking to make the leap

  • During the summer, the Hurricanes locked up part of their future in rising defensemen. That included extensions for Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce.
  • There were some Matt Duchene to Carolina rumblings, so this post examined if Noah Hanifin would be worth giving up to make it happen.
  • As much as that trade would be about adding a proven scorer to a promising bunch of forwards, it would also be about the Hurricanes leveraging an area of strength. Simply put, this team boasts an enviable array of talented young defensemen.
  • The biggest move of the summer was handing Scott Darling a big contract to be their guy in net. He may determine this team’s ceiling, particularly in 2017-18.
  • As much as this is about young talent, it’s heartening to see Justin Williams back in the fold.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Poll/looking to make the leap

New Jersey Devils

Poll/looking to make the leap

New York Islanders

Poll/looking to make the leap

  • The John Tavares saga continues into 2017-18, and it’s unclear when the Islanders will get more clarity. Tavares deserves clarity of his own, as the Islanders need to get their home in order. It could be months before that happens, as the Belmont Park scenario shows.
  • GM Garth Snow at least took some measures to make life easier for Tavares, trading Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle (someone who has chemistry with Tavares).
  • It sure felt like the Travis Hamonic deal was made with future moves in mind. We’ll have to wait and see in that regard.
  • Jaroslav Halak is under pressure to keep his career going strong, though it remains to be seen if he can snag many starts from Thomas Greiss. Halak did finish 2016-17 on a high note, so who knows? At worst, the Islanders have incentive to play him, even if it’s just to pump up his trade value.
  • Joshua Ho-Sang already impressed during some of the dimmer moments of last season. From an entertainment standpoint, here’s hoping we see more of him.
  • Doug Weight had some success as interim head coach with the Islanders. It will be fascinating to see what he might accomplish with the “luxury” of a training camp. Bonus points for making a “Rocky” reference.

New York Rangers

Poll/looking to make the leap

Philadelphia Flyers

Poll/looking to make the leap

  • Much like the Devils, the Flyers were delighted by the rare occurrence of getting a high first-rounder. Nolan Patrick, the second pick, looks like another quick study.
  • The Philadelphia Flyers will look different in net, as Brian Elliott joins Michal Neuvirth while Steve Mason is gone.
  • Philly traded away Brayden Schenn, receiving picks and Jori Lehtera. Michael Del Zotto is also out of town.
  • With Lehtera, Patrick, and Valtteri Filppula recently added to the mix, Philly can mix and match with centers. That might give them the confidence needed to try out Claude Giroux as a winger with Sean Couturier down the middle.
  • A slew of young players forced Matt Read to the AHL.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Poll/looking to make the leap

Something noteworthy from today:

Washington Capitals

Poll/looking to make the leap