The last stop on the TCI 2016-2017 World Tour is the Metro (no, not nearly this cool). The Metropolitan Division was home to both last year’s Cup champions and President’s Trophy winners, who are always the truer champions because an 82 game sample size is so much larger than four discrete seven game series. Here is a chart with proprietary, arbitrary, and made-up stats to prove that point by your own logic.
15-16 Record: 56-18-8, 120 points
Projected $885K cap room
- Losses – Mike Richards, Jason Chimera
- Acquisitions – Brett Connolly
- 16-17 Outlook – There’s not a lot a team that amassed 120 points in the modern NHL generally needs to change, and as a result the Caps really didn’t do much. They brought in Brett Connolly for an $875K pittance who would have looked nice here, and he has the potential to really go off if he’s in a bottom six role. But as usual the test will be if both the neckless Barry Trotz and Alex Ovechkin can get out of the second round. It’s a stigma they’ll have to wear until they do, even if they ran into a buzzsaw of a Pens’ forward group. The Penguins’ speed should have highlighted some of the more leaden-footed members of the Caps’ blue line, namely Brooks Orpik, who is not getting any younger, faster, or cheaper. The Carlson-Alzner pairing might be the most unheraled in the sport, and Matt Niskanen is a nice toy, but there’s not much there after them, and the possession numbers bore that out. And Trotz will have to learn a different tactic in net, as even though Holtby took home the Vezina, his workload is clearly unsustainable, as his 66GP is at least 10 too many. And given what that it did to Pekka Rinne in Nashville, Trotz has the potential to be the undoing of two franchises with serious June aspirations.
15-16 Record: 48-26-8, 104 Points
Projected -$3.128 million (Dupuis LTIRetirement)
- Losses – Jeff Zatkoff, Ben Lovejoy, their underratedly horrendous jerseys
- Acquisitions – Bad ass retro sweaters full time
- 16-17 Outlook – Clearly the recipe for a Cup victory in the Crosby era is for the Penguins to fire their coach halfway through the season. Not that Mike Sullivan needed to do much to be an upgrade over animatronic butler Mike Johnston. Sullivan, who was best known for getting the ass-end of the Joe Thornton deal in Boston having to make chicken salad out of Marco Sturm, did his best to get out of the way and let all 12 of his forwards skate their asses off. And when the greatest player of a generation is at the forefront of that attack, the end result is not surprising. When PHIL! Kessel is on a third line, that’s Cup worthy offensive depth.
But there is a luck element to any Cup win, and it still took the Pens 7 games to edge the Ning by a single goal when Stamkos was only available for G7. Matt Murray is still an unknown entity despite a great spring and is already hurt. The blue line leaves plenty to be desired after Kris Letang. And there are injury concerns abound among all their key players, all of whom have histories (Sid, Geno, Letang, Maata), and Murray is already hurt, which means MAF gets the go to begin with. The hope has to be that Murray is able to firmly entrench himself enough for GM Jim Rutherford to be able to flip the unfairly maligned Fleury for more help on the blue line, but that timetable has already been pushed back. But barring a rash of catastrophic injuries, they’ll be right there vying to claim the East.
New York Rangers
15-16 Record: 46-27-9, 101 Points
Projected $1.4 million cap space
- Losses – Viktor Stalberg, Dan Boyle, Dominic Moore, Eric Staal, Derick Brassard, Keith Yandle
- Acquisitions – Mika Zibanejad, Nathan Gerbe, Jimmy Vesey, Josh Jooris, Adam Clendening
- 16-17 Outlook – No team that made the playoffs last year has gone through as much turnover in their forward corps, and yet still the Rangers manage to have even fewer centers than they started with by trading Brassard and allowing the aging Dom Moore to walk. Getting Zibanejad back for Brassard is an upgrade, but he’s never played center regularly in the league. Jimmy Vesey signs here and of course he will score when the Rangers play the Hawks causing giardinera drenched former members of The 300 Level message board to set themselves on fire.
Dan Boyle finally called it a career, and what a career it he had. His house burned down during the SCF in 04, he nearly had his hand cut clean off by a skate blade, he banked in a top-10 all time own goal, announced his Rangers contract with Mike Patton and Billy Gould of Faith No More, and told Larry Brooks to fuck off. A list like that should make Dan Boyle everyone ever’s favorite hockey player.
Anyway the Rangers are boring and are completely reliant on Henrik Lundqvist and will probably play the Capitals in April for the 487th year in a row and no one will give a shit.
New York Islanders
15-16 Record: 45-27-10, 100 Points
Projected $783K Cap Space
- Losses – Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Brian Strait
- Acquisitions – Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera, Dennis Seidenberg, PA Parenteau
- 16-17 Outlook – Forever a team on the cusp of becoming something of a threat in the east, John Tavares finally took this team to the 2nd round last year basically single-handedly, only to be zapped by a deeper Bolts group. And given some of the off-season turnover, it looks like that will be as far as they’ll get. Andrew Ladd is slowing down significantly, and even if he weren’t he’s still a downgrade from Kyle Okposo. Frans Nielsen was long the actuality of what people believed Dave Bolland was, and now he’s in Detroit. There are some fun parts here in Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Ryan Strome, but none of them are centers. The defensive group is fine give or take Seidenberg, but for as nice a player as Travis Hamonic is, it’s still a unit screaming for a real #1 and would be an ideal fit for Trouba. And of course if Jaro Halak is healthy he’ll get just hot enough to break his team’s heart, otherwise known as the Evgeni Nabokov Corrolary.
Philadelphia Cold Ones
15-16 Record: 41-27-14, 96 Points
Projected $285K Cap Space
- Losses – Sam Ganger, Ray M. Murray, Ryan White, RJ Umberger
- Acquisitions – Dale Wiese, Boyd Gordon
- 16-17 Outlook – Yo, the Flyers! were one of the more pleasant surprises in the league last year, as the law firm of Hextall and Hakstol were able to divest the organization of some terrible paper off the ice while producing some results on it. Coach Dave Hakstol clearly knows what he’s doing after several years at a very successful North Dakota program, and last year’s success was built largely on the back of quietly stellar goaltending from Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth, and a bust-out year for Calder finalist Shayne Gostisberehe. Ghost Bear is fantastic at pushing the play, but he’ll need to work more at flipping the ice if he’s ever going to take subprime zone starts. And the center depth of Giroux-Schenn-Coots-Gordon is a very strong foundation for a smart coach to work with. They’re still more than a few pieces away (depth scoring and defensemen), but the Flyera should be competitive enough and built the right way to give their irretrievably weird and fun (except for their Cardinal-fan-esque love of dead ghoul owner Ed Snider) plenty to talk about.
15-16 Record: 35-31-16, 86 Points
Projected $18 million cap space
- Losses – Nathan Gerbe, J-M Liles (February), Eric Staal (February)
- Acquisitions – Lee Stempniak, Bryan Bickell, Viktor Stalberg (really?), Our Special Boy Teuvo
- 16-17 Outlook – Nothing has changed the fact that the Hurricanes have arguably the best blue line in the league, right up there with Nashville. Justin Faulk silently had a Norris caliber season last year and is only 24. Noah Hanafin has the size, physicality, and vision to be what Brent Seabrook used to be, and Ryan Murphy is poised to take the next step. Add to that the dependable puck moving of Ron Hainsey and a bit of a surprise in Brett Pesce, and there are no holes here, especially for a smart coach in Bill Peters. The forward corps isn’t helpless, particularly if Peters is able to maximize Our Special Boy into the number 2 scoring center or even a distributing right wing that he could and should be. But there’s no #1 center here even if Elias Lindholm does take a leap, and Jordan Staal certainly isn’t it. It’s anyone’s guess why Cam Ward was retained other than a known-known of a bad save percentage as he spells Eddie Lack. This is a team that could jump up and bite many a true cup contender on any given night, and might even push for a playoff spot despite the fact they are paying Viktor Stalberg $3.0 million.
New Jersey Devils
15-16 Record: 38-36-8, 84 Points
Projected $11.4 million cap space
- Losses – Adam Larsson, Tyler Kennedy, Jordin Tootoo, Tuomo Ruutu, Jiri Tlusty, David Schlemko
- Acquisitions – Taylor Hall, Vern Fiddler, Ben Lovejoy, Kyle Quincey
- 16-17 Outlook – Getting Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson might be the steal of the century, but the Devils likely only further entrenched themselves in Hockey Hell by making the deal. Hall and Corey Schneider will be awesome but on a team that has very little chance of even sneaking into the playoffs in the east, therefore decreasing the likelihood of getting a top-3 pick. And bring back the red and green Christmas retros permanently, dickheads.
Columbus Blue Jackets
15-16 Record: 34-40-8, 76 Points
Projected $3.8 million cap space
- Losses – Fedor Tyutin, Jared Boll, Rene Bourque,
- Acquisitions – Gregory Campbell
- 16-17 Outlook – Remember when the SHARPEST MINDS on social media were all aflutter over Jarmo Kekkalainen being one of the best GMs in hockey? That was a fun six minutes. All he’s done since then is cap his team out with redundant slow powerforwards and entrust the on-ice product to pre-lockout relic John Tortorella. Tortorella may have been right about Ryan Johansen being a big doughy lump of crap who scores when he wants, and getting Seth Jones back is a huge cornerstone, but in the end what does it matter? Both Jarmo and Torts will undoubtedly be gone by whenever this franchise matters for the first time ever.