NHL Like And No Like – The Metropolitan Division

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Here at NHL Rumors, we will take a quick look at some of the summer moves that we liked and some we are less enamored with. Again, these are fast impressions and don’t shoot the messenger. Sunday ends with the Metropolitan Division.

Anyway, let’s end this with a little fanfare!

NHL Like And No Like – Metropolitan Division

Let’s fire up the masses a bit here.

Carolina Hurricanes

So, the Carolina Hurricanes are an interesting squad and they just brought in Paul Stastny on a tidy one-year deal to boost their scoring and veteran leadership a bit. They already have Brent Burns on the blue line for depth there but that was not enough.

Martin Necas may be the key and the most likable move here. His bridge deal hopefully lights a fire under him for a better next season or two. They are expecting bigger things from the future. He took a bit of a step back last year. If he shoots a bit more and improves on that 8.8% shooting percentage, both parties will be happy.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Again, Jarmo Kekalainen made the big plunge and signed Johnny Gaudreau to the big long-term deal of free agency. The fact that Gaudreau came in under $10 million AAV was impressive. Then, the not so likable parts came.

First, Patrik Laine was extended for four more seasons at a hefty $8.8 million AAV. It is a risk that could pay off but these Columbus moves put them at a tipping point. The result was the trade of Oliver Bjorkstrand to the Seattle Kraken for what amounted to pennies on the dollar.

Bjorkstrand was on a team-friendly deal paying him $5.4 million over the next four years and he just got married, bought a house, etc. Aside from sentimentality, he was a winger who had 30-30 potential for years to come to Columbus. Oh my.

New Jersey Devils

The “winners of the last offseason” did not land the big prize in Gaudreau this time but they landed a serviceable plug anywhere player in Ondrej Palat. If anyone watched that 2018 playoff series, Palat was a waking nightmare that New Jersey could not truly contain.

However, what will be interesting is what happens with goaltending. Is Jonathan Bernier or MacKenzie Blackwood truly healthy? The best move the Devils may have made was to bring in Vitek Vanecek. At the very least the former Washington goalie can push Blackwood and Bernier.

For a team that suffered through historically bad goaltending last year, the Vanecek move at least represents a refreshing shift in mindset. Whether it pays off is anyone’s guess. It cannot get much worse.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders and Lou Lamoriello believe they still have a playoff team. They struck out first on Gaudreau and then Nazem Kadri for good measure. This was mostly because the Islanders just would not part with a top pick.

Yet, they paid a price for Alexander Romanov (the 13th pick) who is a defensive defenseman then signed him. If anything, a low-scoring team like the Islanders needed an offensive defenseman. They did sign Noah Dobson for a bridge deal at $4 million AAV. That may have been their best move.

New York Rangers

The thing with the Rangers is there is a simple debate. Should they have gone with Andrew Copp (who went to Detroit) or Vincent Trocheck? In the end, they went with what they believed was a better long-term fit. Trocheck was their guy for seven years at $5.625 million AAV.

That second-line fit is what sells most pundits and myself included. Trocheck is a bit more of a two-way player than some realize and scores 25-30 goals or more. Could he get back to the 60 point mark in New York? Absolutely.

Philadelphia Flyers

Simply, if anyone knows what the Philadelphia Flyers have for an actual plan. Please enlighten us. Chuck Fletcher missed out on most everyone and has brought back an even worse squad than last year.

The head scratcher in all of this was bringing Anthony DeAngelo effectively home to Philadelphia for three draft picks. DeAngelo on the ice is proficient offensively but his defense leaves much to be desired at times. It is those “lapses” despite consecutive 50-point seasons that scare people.

A simple message by Philadelphia was that they did not care whether people were worried about DeAngelo’s off-ice demeanor and beliefs. Plus, the team in Philadelphia may not be the most talented. Fletcher and company may have opted to rebuild. What is there is a touch messy.

Pittsburgh Penguins

For better or for worse, Ron Hextall did ultimately bring the band back together by agreeing to deals with Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. Both are risks but both produce pretty well enough even in their mid-thirties.

The question is durability with Sidney Crosby not getting any younger. Can Pittsburgh stay healthy enough this season?

Washington Capitals

The reality is Washington did not do too much but they did bring in Darcy Kuemper who will at least bring stability to the Capitals’ crease. At a five year deal just over $5 million AAV (5.25), he is better than they say.

The more sneaky move and one more liked here was Dylan Strome. If Strome can have some chemistry with players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, that move could be a decent payoff for the Capitals. With Nicklas Backstrom out for who knows how long (hip refacing surgery), Washington hopes for a Strome Surge.

September is rapidly approaching hockey fans at last…

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