Now that the first wave of free agency has mostly passed with only two marquee free agents remaining unsigned (Nazem Kadri and John Klingberg), we are into the doldrums of the offseason. With most major changes out of the way, let’s take a look at the other teams in the Metro Division, what they gained and lost this summer, and where Columbus might stack up as we head into next season.
Additions: Brent Burns, Ondrej Kase, Max Pacioretty, Dylan Coghlan, MacKenzie MacEachern, William Lagesson
Re-signings: Ryan Dzingel
Subtractions: Tony DeAngelo, Steven Lorentz, Ian Cole, Vincent Trocheck, Max Domi
The Carolina Hurricanes unquestionably improved the most this off-season. Sure, they lost all-offense defenseman Tony DeAngelo and had to wave goodbye to Vincent Trocheck, but they were replaced with better options at both positions. Brent Burns is exactly the bombing defenseman who can launch the point shots Carolina sorely needs, and Max Pacioretty is one of the best goal scorers in the game and the Canes got him for nothing. They are going to be the division favorites when the season opens.
New Jersey Devils
Additions: Vitek Vanacek, Erik Haula, Brenden Smith, Ondrej Palat, John Marino
Re-signings: Jesper Boqvist, Jonas Siegenthaler
Subtractions: Janne Kuokkanen, Pavel Zacha, Connor Carrick, Keith Kinkaid, Ty Smith, PK Subban
The New Jersey Devils moved aggressively to address their most significant weakness this off-season: goaltending. The Devils brought in Vitek Vanacek to split time with Mackenzie Blackwood and also brought in help in the form of Ondrej Palat and John Marino after missing out on Johnny Gaudreau. The Devils will be looking to take a step forward as an organization this season.
New York Islanders
Additions: Alexander Romanov
Re-signings: Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho
The New York Islanders, in typical Lou Lamorellio fashion, have not made much noise this off-season. The team traded for Alexander Romanov, but by and large the front office appears content to write last year off given the extenuating circumstances to start the season. The team previously went to two straight Eastern Conference Finals and likely will be trying to replicate that performance this season.
New York Rangers
Additions: Vincent Trocheck, Jaroslav Halak, Ty Emberson, Ryan Carpenter
Re-signings: Louis Domingue, Kaapo Kakko
Subtractions: Kevin Rooney, Andrew Copp, Greg McKegg, Patrick Nemeth, Ryan Strome
The New York Rangers, on the other hand, experienced a lot of turnover this off-season. For a team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals ahead of schedule, the Rangers moved aggressively to retool the roster this summer. Gone are Ryan Strome, Patrick Nemeth, and deadline acquisition Andrew Copp. In come Jaroslav Halak to back up Igor Shesterkin and Vincent Trocheck to play a top six wing role. The Rangers will be looking to build on the surprising success of last season.
Additions: Tony DeAngelo
Re-signings: Justin Braun, Morgan Frost,
Subtractions: Oskar Lindblom
The Philadelphia Flyers acquired Tony DeAngelo, kept James Van Reimsdyke, and chose not to pursue Johnny Gaudreau. It is completely unclear what Chuck Fletcher is doing, other than making baffling decisions and taking unnecessary PR hits by buying out Oskar Lindblom with one year left. Philadelphia is a complete mess.
Additions: Dustin Tokarski, Jan Rutta, Josh Archibald, Drake Caggiula, Ty Smith, Jeff Petry, Ryan Poehling
Re-signings: Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Casey DeSmith, Kasperi Kapanen
Subtractions: John Marino, Mike Matheson
The Pittsburgh Penguins loaded up on bringing back most of last year’s team. Despite rumors of losing one of Kris Letang or Evgeni Malkin, plus doubting if they could keep Rickard Rakell, they managed to do all three, ensuring they will be competitive through the remainder of the Crosby era. Annoying, to say the least.
Additions: Darcy Kuemper, Charlie Lindgren, Henrik Borgstrom, Connor Brown, Dylan Strome, Gabriel Carlsson
Re-signings: Matt Irwin, Marcus Johansson
Subtractions: Vitek Vanacek, Ilya Samsonov, Justin Schultz, Michal Kempny
The Washington Capitals lost both of their rostered goaltenders from last season, but they replaced them with the player who backstopped the Colorado Avalanche to the Stanley Cup. The Capitals did also lose Nicklas Backstrom for the season to hip resurfacing surgery and his timeline is unclear. The Capitals also brought in Dylan Storm and Henrik Borgstrom and may still be looking to replace Backstrom, but may be poised to take a step back this season.
After reviewing each of the teams above, I believe the Columbus Blue Jackets are firmly behind the following teams: Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins. I believe they may be on a tier with the New York Islanders, Washington Capitals, and New Jersey Devils, and firmly ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. I believe circumstances exist where the team can make the playoffs, but it is not likely to occur.
Where do you believe the Blue Jackets fall in the Metro pecking order?