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2023 Metropolitan Division Free Agency Recap

While it was all quiet on the Blue Jackets’ front in free agency, some of their Metro Division rivals beefed up their lineups. A few of the underachieving teams in the Metro went hard in the underwhelming free agency period to try and fix what was broken.

Let’s take a look at some of the notable signings that will suit up against the Blue Jackets in 2023-24.

Carolina Hurricanes

Michael Bunting – 3 years/$4.25M AAV
Dmitry Orlov – 2 years/$7.75M AAV

Subtractions: Shane Ghostisbehere, Max Pacioretty, Calvin de Haan

The Canes needed much help with their roster, but they still managed to improve. Adding Bunting is a solid addition that adds a little more scoring to the lineup, while bringing the tenacity and grit that he is known for. Keeping both Andersen and Raanta between the pipes is a solid if unspectacular tandem. With a defense like theirs – reinforced with the Orlov signing – that is really all that is required. Rumor has it they are also in on Vladimir Tarasenko, and news prematurely broke that a deal was being finalized. Don’t be surprised to see them land one of the premier free agent names remaining on the board.

New Jersey Devils

Timo Meier 8 years/$8.8M AAV
Erik Kallgren 1 year/$775K AAV

Subtractions: Ryan Graves, Miles Wood, Tomas Tatar (?)

New Jersey, like Columbus, was pretty quiet over the weekend in terms of free agency. The Devils did swing a big trade for Tyler Toffoli, adding even more firepower to their already strong forward group. Otherwise, they kept their business in house, and made their free agent splash by re-signing deadline acquisition, Timo Meier, to an 8-year deal.

Their defense took a bit of a hit by letting Ryan Graves walk, but the emergence of Luke Hughes made him largely expendable. After losing young goaltender Nico Daws for a chunk of the upcoming season, Erik Kallgren was signed to bolster the goaltending that had to rely on an untested rookie in the playoffs.

New York Islanders

Subtractions: Zach Parise(?), Josh Bailey (via trade)

The Islanders are just the same as they have ever been with Lou Lamoriello at the helm. They will pretty much run it back next season with the same aging team that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. They did manage to get a little bit younger by subtraction, trading away long-time Islander, Josh Bailey and the potential departure or retirement of Zach Parise.

Lamoriello did lock down his world-class goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Their other big moves were giving long-term deals to bottom-six forward Pierre Engvall, and hulking defenseman, and alternate captain, Scott Mayfield. Oliver Wahlstrom is a an RFA that will need a new contract this summer, but a deal should get done.

New York Rangers

Blake Wheeler – 1 year/$800K AAV
Jonathan Quick – 1 year/$925K AAV
Nick Bonino – 1 year/$800K AAV
Alex Belzile, Riley Nash and Tyler Pitlick


The Rangers went all in at the trade deadline last year adding star wingers, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, only to get bounced in the opening round. There’s a good chance that neither of those additions will be back, and the Rangers had to look elsewhere to fill out their forward ranks. They apparently are under the impression that getting older is the way to go, adding some grizzled veterans to their roster. Wheeler is slowing down, but still is a productive player at age 36. Quick, Bonino, Nash and Pitlick provide cheap depth with lots of NHL experience. That will prove to be important for a cap-strapped team looking to contend.

They still have some work to do if they want to keep developing former #1 overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere, and budding defenseman K’Andre Miller. Both of them remain unsigned as restricted free agents, with rumblings that they will listen to offers on Lafreniere. Something will have to give eventually as those are players they should want to keep.

New York also remain interested in seeing what Patrick Kane does. Just how big of a discount is he willing to take to stay on Broadway?

Philadelphia Flyers

Garnet Hathaway – 2 years/$2.375M AAV
Marc Staal – 1 year/$1.1M AAV
Ryan Poehling – 1 year/$1.4M AAV

Subtractions: James Van Riemsdyk, Ivan Provorov (trade), Kevin Hayes (trade)

Finally in a complete rebuild, Philadelphia needed to add players to simply fill out their roster. They made a couple of solid moves in my opinion, but none that really will move the needle one way or another. Garnet Hathaway is a nice pickup that adds more grit to their team which John Tortorella will undoubtedly love. Poehling is a guy who has never really been able to put it together, but will get a shot on a rebuilding team. Staal is simply a veteran presence on the blue line, and at 36 years of age, he is just collecting paychecks to mentor the young blue liners. Torts will probably play him 20 minutes a night.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Noel Acciari  3 years/$2M AAV
Ryan Graves 6 years /$4.5M AAV
Tristan Jarry 5 year/$5.375M AAV
Matt Nieto  2 years/$900K AAV
Alex Nedeljkovic 1 year/$1.5M AAV
Lars Eller 2 years/$2.45M AAV

Subtractions: Jason Zucker, Danton Heinen (?),Nick Bonino, Brian Dumoulin, Ryan Poehling, Josh Archibald

Did anyone really think Kyle Dubas was going to sit on his hands and stay quiet with his new team?

With his star players on the back nine, Dubas will do everything in his power to pry open the window of contention that has probably already been closed and painted shut.

The Defense lost long-tenured veteran Brian Dumoulin, who was an unsung staple of that unit. However, that loss is more than made up for with the additions of Graves and Acciari.

Parma, Ohio native, Alex Nedeljkovic is a potentially strong signing. After he flopped hard in Detroit, a change of scenery was needed and he will be a solid back-up for recently signed Tristan Jarry.

I think the additions on defense might just be enough to get Pittsburgh back into the playoffs for one more run with their aging stars.

Washington Capitals

Max Pacioretty – 1 year/$4M AAV

Subtractions: Connor Brown, Conor Sheary

For a team that missed the playoffs last year for the first time in 8 years, Washington has remained pretty quiet thus far. Max Pacioretty is a solid signing to help put the puck in the net, but only time will tell if he can get back to the player he once was after tearing his achilles. I’ve always liked “Patches” and hope he can rebound, but at almost 35, that is going to be a tough injury to bounce back from.

Washington re-signed young defenseman Martin Fehervary to a 3-year-deal, and re-upped a few players that won the Calder Cup with Hershey. Aside from that, it has been an uneventful offseason for GM Brian McClellan, who admitted “nothing has gone to plan” in regards to his offseason strategy. They did add big defenseman Joel Edmunson to add more physicality to their backend.

Washington is relying on largely the same aging core to get them back to the playoffs. I’m not sure they can get it done.

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