The Good and Bad of Summer 2017 (So Far): Metropolitan Division

Cam Lewis
July 31 2017 10:38AM

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PHOTO CREDIT: © GEOFF BURKE-USA TODAY SPORTS

This is one part of a four-part, division-by-division series looking at the moves made by each team this offseason and what they still have left to do before the season begins. 

The Hurricanes looked to solve their goaltending issue, the Penguins worked to keep their Cup-winning core intact, the Capitals lost an exodus of good players, the Devils and Flyers continued to build with excellent lottery luck, the Blue Jackets haven't done much to build on a breakout season, the Rangers dropped a lot of cap to make a major free agency splash, and it's time to worry about John Tavares.

Carolina Hurricanes

  • Re-signed Scott Darling to a four-year contract with a $4.15 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Derek Ryan to a one-year, $1.425 million contract.
  • Re-signed Klas Dahlbeck to a one-year, $850k contract.
  • Re-signed Jaccob Slavin to a seven-year contract with a $5.3 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Teuvo Teravainen to a two-year contract with a $2.86 million cap hit.
  • Signed Justin Williams to a two-year contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Josh Jooris, Jeremy Smith, Brenden Kichton,
  • Minor re-signings: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Brock McGinn, Philip Samuelsson, Jake Chelios, Patrick Brown, Trevor Carrick, Andrew Miller, Dennis Robertson
  • Traded a 2017 third round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Scott Darling’s UFA rights.
  • Traded a 2017 second round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Trevor van Riemsdyk and a 2018 seventh round pick.
  • Traded Eddie lack, Ryan Murphy, and a 2019 seventh round pick to the Calgary Flames for Keegan Kanzig and a 2019 sixth round pick.
  • Traded a 2018 fifth round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Marcus Kruger.
  • Lost Connor Brickley in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Scott Darling, Justin Williams, Josh Jooris, Jeremy Smith, Brenden Kichton.
  • OUT: Michael Leighton, Matt Tennyson, Connor Brickley, Eddie lack, Ryan Murphy, Jay McClement, Andrej Nestrasil, Bryan Bickell, Danny Kristo.

The Hurricanes were actually a pretty solid team last year, finishing in the top-five in the league in shot attempt differential at even strength, but they came unglued because of poor goaltending. That's been the theme with this team for a few years now, as Cam Ward hasn't posted an above average season since 2011-12.

The Canes addressed their biggest issue by trading a pick for Scott Darling's UFA rights and signing him to a four-year deal prior to free agency. There's somewhat of a risk with Darling, in that he's never actually played a full season in the NHL before, but his numbers over 75 career games are excellent. We've seen this situation before with Cam Talbot and Martin Jones as late bloomers get stuck behind a starting goalie somewhere and then excel elsewhere despite the lack of experience. If Darling can evolve into a good starting goaltender, the Canes are likely poised to jump into the playoffs this season.

They also continued their pursuit of becoming the Jr. Blackhawks by acquiring Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger from the Golden Knights, both of whom are solid players that add depth to a lineup that was somewhat thin last season. Their big splash in free agency was inking Justin Williams — a member of the 2006 Stanley Cup team — to a two-year deal, giving them another legitimate top-nine scoring option.

It was rumoured the Canes would use their excess of blueliners to acquire a top centre like Matt Duchene, but they haven't pulled the trigger on that kind of deal. They signed Jaccob Slavin to a long-term extension this summer, suggesting he won't be one moved to fill a position of need.

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Re-signed Joonas Korpisalo to a two-year contract with a $900k cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Cameron Gaunce, Andre Benoit, Dean Kukan, Zac Dalpe.
  • Minor re-signings: Jordan Schroeder, Alex Broadhurst.
  • Traded Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 fifth round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, and a 2017 sixth round pick.
  • Traded Dante Salituro to the Minnesota Wild for Jordan Schroeder.
  • Traded a 2017 first round pick and a 2019 second round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for them to take David Clarkson in the expansion draft.
  • Bought out Scott Hartnell’s contract.
  • IN: Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, Jordan Schroeder, Cameron Gaunce, Andre Benoit, Dean Kukan, Zac Dalpe.
  • OUT: David Clarkson, Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, Sam Gagner, Ryan Stanton, Kyle Quincey, Scott Hartnell, TJ Tynan, Oscar Dansk.
  • UNSIGNED: Josh Anderson (RFA), Alexander Wenneberg (RFA).

The Blue Jackets enjoyed their best season in franchise history last year, but unfortunately for them, it ended with a five-game series loss to the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. There wasn't much room to work with going into the offseason as most of the Blue Jackets roster has been locked up to multi-year contracts and the available cap room needs to be allocated to RFAs Josh Anderson and Alexander Wennberg.

They pulled of a pretty shocking deal with the Blackhawks, sending Brandon Saad back to Chicago in a deal that was essentially a swap for Artemi Panarin. The deal likely makes Columbus better in the short-term, but they sacrificed some long-term contract flexibility swapping Saad for Panarin, as the former only has two years left on his contract before he can hit free agency. Columbus also paid a high price to work through the expansion draft, giving Vegas a first and second round pick in order to dump David Clarkson's albatross contract.

The team still needs to sign the aforementioned Wennberg and Anderson, but they have plenty of cap room to get them both done. After those are figured out, the Jackets will ideally be able to find another low-key bargain bin grab like they did with Sam Gagner last summer to flesh out their roster.

New Jersey Devils

  • Re-signed Keith Kinkaid to a two-year contract with a $1.25 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract with a $850k cap hit.
  • Signed Brian Boyle to a two-year contract with a $2.75 million cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Brian Strait, Bracken Kearns, Yaroslav Dyblenko, Michael Kapla.
  • Minor re-signings: Viktor Loov, Brian Gibbons, Scott Wedgewood, Joseph Blandisi, Stefan Noesen, Kevin Rooney, Blake Pietila, Ben Thompson.
  • Traded a 2017 second round and fourth round pick to the San Jose Sharks for Mirco Mueller and a 2017 fifth round pick.
  • Traded a 2018 second and third round pick to the Washington Capitals for Marcus Johansson.
  • Bought out Devante Smith-Pelly and Mike Cammalleri’s contracts.
  • Lost Jon Merrill in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Mirco Mueller, Marcus Johansson, Brian Boyle, Brian Strait, Bracken Kearns, Yaroslav Dyblenko, Michael Kapla.
  • OUT: Mike Cammalleri, Jon Merrill, Devante Smith-Pelly, Johan Auvitu, Beau Bennett, Seth Helgeson, Luke Gazdic, Jacob Josefson.
  • UNSIGNED: Damon Severson (RFA).

The Devils have been trapped in purgatory for the past few seasons. They aren't terrible enough to to rebuild with high picks, but they also aren't anywhere near good enough for the playoffs. Thanks to the new draft lottery, though, the Devils might finally be able to turn a corner.

They jumped all the way up to first overall and selected skilled Swiss forward Nico Hischier, who immediately becomes their top prospect. They didn't have a very busy offseason after that, but the Devils pulled off a couple of clever trades, acquiring Marcus Johansson from Washington's cap crunch and Mirco Mueller, who the Sharks wanted to deal before the expansion draft.

They still aren't a playoff team in this lodes division, but the Devils capitalized on some good luck this summer which should accelerate their rise from mediocrity.

New York Islanders

  • Re-signed Dennis Seidenberg to a one-year, $1.25 million contract.
  • Re-signed Adam Pelech to a four-year contract with a $1.6 million cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Seth Helgeson, Tanner Fritz, Kane Lafranchise, Christopher Gibson.
  • Minor re-signings: Steve Bernier, Kristers Gudlevskis, Connor Jones.
  • Traded Ryan Strome to the Edmonton Oilers for Jordan Eberle.
  • Traded Carter Verhaeghe to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Kristers Gudlevskis.
  • Traded Travis Hamonic and a conditional fourth round pick to the Calgary Flames for a 2018 first and fourth round pick and a conditional second round pick.
  • Traded Jake Bischoff, Mikhail Grabovski and a 2017 first and second round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for them to select J-F Berube in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Jordan Eberle, Kristers Gudlevskis, Seth Helgeson, Tanner Fritz, Kane Lafranchise, Christopher Gibson.
  • OUT: Ryan Strome, Travis Hamonic, J-F Berube, Mikhail Grabovski, Bracken Kearns, Stephen Gionta, Matt Finn.
  • UNSIGNED: Calvin de Haan (RFA).

The Islanders had a quiet summer. They did virtually nothing in free agency, but pulled the trigger on a couple of major trades. They sent Ryan Strome to Edmonton for Jordan Eberle, giving John Tavares an actual wingman that can produce offence at a high level. They also used draft picks to dump Mikhail Grabovski's contract on the Golden Knights at the expansion draft and recouped those assets by sending Travis Hamonic to the Flames.

The focus immediately shifts to John Tavares, who's eligible to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career next summer. Tavares signed an absurdly team-friendly deal after his entry-level contract, getting paid only $5.5 million annually, so he's definitely going to be due for a raise. Tavares has said that he's happy with the Islanders and would talk extension, but nothing has happened yet.

That said, with so much of the Islanders future — largely where they're actually going to be playing — in flux, it's easy to see why Tavares didn't rush to make a deal as soon as the window opened up on July 1.

New York Rangers

  • Re-signed Mika Zibanejad to a five-year contract with a $5.35 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Jesper Fast to a three-year contract with a $1.85 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Brendan Smith to a four-year contract with a $4.35 million cap hit.
  • Signed Kevin Shattenkirk to a four-year contract with a $6.65 million cap hit.
  • Signed David Desharnais to a one-year, $1 million contract.
  • Signed Ondrej Pavelec to a one-year, $1.3 million contract.
  • Minor signings: Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer, Cole Schneider, Daniel Catenacci.
  • Minor re-signings: Matt Puempel.
  • Traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for a 2017 first round pick and Anthony DeAngelo.
  • Bought out Dan Girardi’s contract.
  • Lost Oscar Lindberg in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Kevin Shattenkirk, Anthony DeAngelo, Ondrej Pavelec, David Desharnais, Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer, Cole Schneider, Daniel Catenacci.
  • OUT: Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Adam Clendening, Marek Hrivik, Oscar Lindberg, Dan Girardi, Chris Summers, Kevin Klein, Brandon Pirri, Taylor Beck, Nicklas Jensen.

The Rangers did a heavy amount of housework this summer, overhauling their roster and dumping a significant amount of salary to make a couple major upgrades. They sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona for a pick and a prospect and they bought out the remainder of Dan Girardi's contract in order to free up cap room to sign Kevin Shattenkirk and re-sign Brendan Smith and Mika Zibanejad.

The Shattenkirk signing was always fairly predictable, as he's explicitly stated that it was his dream to play at his hometown Madison Square Garden. It seemed unlikely, though, that the Rangers would be able to figure out a way to squeeze Shattenkirk into their cap picture, but they finally bit the bullet on buying out Girardi's deal. They also ultimately decided that Derek Stepan was going to be an odd man out, so somebody is going to have to step up and compensate for his consistent 50-point production and solid play down the middle.

Next summer, the Rangers will have a whole new set of work to grind through as Jimmy Vesey, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Brady Skjei all become RFAs while Rick Nash is set to hit the open market.

Philadelphia Flyers

  • Re-signed Scott Laughton to a two-year contract with a $962,500 cap hit.
  • Re-signed Shayne Gostisbehere to a six-year contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Jordan Weal to a two-year contract with a $1.75 million cap hit.
  • Signed Brian Elliott to a two-year contract with a $2.75 million cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Phil Varone.
  • Minor re-signings: Michael Vecchione, Mark Alt, Anthony Stolarz, Cole Bardreau, Alex Lyon.
  • Traded Nick Cousins and Merrick Madsen to the Arizona Coyotes for Brenden Warren and a 2018 fifth round pick.
  • Traded Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first round pick, and a conditional 2018 first round pick.
  • Lost Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Lori Lehtera, Brian Elliott, Phil Varone, Brenden Warren.
  • Brayden Schenn, Steve Mason, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Cousins, Merrick Madsen, Pierrer-Edouard Bellemare, Roman Lyubimov, Nick Schultz, Boyd Gordon, Chris VandeVelde.

The Flyers didn't do much this summer, but that's been the theme with them the past few years as they slowly work out of cap hell and rebuild their roster. I mean, they did stumble on some incredible lottery luck and ended up drafting Nolan Patrick — the consensus No. 1 overall at this time last year — with the second pick. But since the draft, it's been quiet in Philadelphia.

The major move they made was sending Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for Jori Lehtera and a couple of draft picks. This was a savvy deal because Schenn is pretty much exclusively a power play producer and is locked up for three more years at a $5.125 million cap hit. Lehtera had a miserable season last year, scoring only 22 points in 64 games, but only has two more years left on his deal at a cheaper cap hit. The savings in cap and the draft picks more than make up for the difference between Schenn and Lehtera.

The Flyers also swapped their goaltending situation, allowing Steve Mason to walk before buying low on Brian Elliott. Elliott was disappointing last season in Calgary, but was excellent in St. Louis for years before that. The thing with Elliott is that he's been pretty bad everywhere other than St. Louis throughout his career, so there's reason to assume that his success was driven by the environment. Regardless, it's a low-risk, two-year investment.

If the Flyers do take a step forward and make the playoffs this season, which seems unlikely considering the strength of the division, it'll come through internal progression of their young core, like Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, and Sam Morin.

Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Re-signed Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Justin Schultz to a three-year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit.
  • Signed Antti Niemi to a one-year, $700k contract.
  • Signed Matt Hunwick to a three-year contract with a $2.25 million cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Greg McKegg, Chris Summers, Zach Trotman, Jarred Tinordi, Casey DeSmith, Kevin Czuczman.
  • Minor re-signings: Derrick Pouliot, Josh Archibald, Frank Corrado, Tom Sestito, Chad Ruhwedel.
  • Traded Oskar Sundqvist and a 20127 first round pick to the St. Louis Blues for Ryan Reaves and a 2017 second round pick.
  • Lost Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Matt Hunwick, Antti Niemi, Ryan Reaves, Greg McKegg, Chris Summers, Zach Trotman, Jarred Tinordi, Casey DeSmith, Kevin Czuczman.
  • OUT: Nick Bonino, Oskar Sundqvist, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pascal Dupuis, Ron Hainsey, Chris Kunitz, Trevor Daley, Matt Cullen, Kevin Porter, Cameron Gaunce, David Warsofsky.
  • UNSIGNED: Conor Sheary (RFA).

The Penguins won their second Stanley Cup in a row this spring and will pursue becoming the first team since the New York Islanders dynasty to win three in a row with largely the same roster intact.

They had a small exodus of players leave the team in free agency, as Nick Bonino, Ron Hainsey, Chris Kunitz, and Trevor Daley left to sign elsewhere, and Marc-Andre Fleury was claimed by Vegas in the expansion draft. They managed to add to their blueline by signing Matt Hunwick, but otherwise, the rest of Pittsburgh's free cap space was used on signing important players to long-term deals.

Justin Schultz was given three years and Brian Dumoulin was signed for six, ensuring that the core of this Penguins team will be together for the next few seasons. So long as you have Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin on your team, you have a chance to win.

Washington Capitals

  • Re-signed T.J. Oshie to an eight-year contract with a $5.75 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Andrei Burakovsky to a two-year contact with a $3 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Evgeny Kuznetsov to an eight-year contract with a $7.8 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Phillip Grubauer to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
  • Re-signed Dmitry Orlov to a six-year contract with a $5.1 million cap hit.
  • Re-signed Brett Connolly to a two-year contract with a $1.5 million cap hit.
  • Minor signings: Devante Smith-Pelly, Anthony Peluso.
  • Minor re-signings: Liam O’Brien, Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Pheonix Copley, Christian Djoos, Nathan Walker.
  • Traded Marcus Johansson to the New Jersey Devils for a 2018 second and third round pick.
  • Traded a 2018 fifth round pick to the Minnesota Wild for Tyler Graovac.
  • Lost Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft.
  • IN: Devante Smith-Pelly, Anthony Peluso, Tyler Graovac.
  • OUT: Karl Alzner, Marcus Johansson, Justin Williams, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nate Schmidt, Paul Carey, Daniel Winnik, Chris Bourque.

There's a reason this year's run was so dire for the Capitals. They had a very, very good roster squeezed under the salary cap, but multiple key players were set to become free agents and command pay raises. Karl Alzner, T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams, Kevin Shattenkirk, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andrei Burakovsky, Dmitry Orlov, and Nate Schmidt all needed new contracts this summer, and, predictably, the Caps had to let a bunch of them walk.

Shattenkirk, Alzner, and Williams all signed elsewhere in free agency, Schmidt was snagged by Vegas in the expansion draft, and Oshie, Kuznetsov, Burakovsky, and Orlov were all given new, long-term deals. In order to squeeze all of them in, the Caps were forced to dump Marcus Johansson's contract on the Devils for a very underwhelming return.

The thing that's odd about that is they gave away a 27-year-old signed for two more seasons who scored 58 points last season in order to sign a 30-year-old who scored 56 points last season. Obviously it isn't as cut and dry as that, but signing Oshie to a deal that'll go until his late-30s is going to blow up on them eventually.

Regardless, Washington is worse than they were last season. That was inevitable. They're pressed right up against the cap, have virtually zero depth, and are going to have to lean on contributions from unexpected sources in order to be a contender again next season.

Previously in this series…

The Good and Bad of Summer 2017: Pacific Division

The Good and Bad of Summer 2017: Central Division 

The Good and Bad of Summer 2017: Atlantic Division 

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Nation Network utility infielder. Twitter: @cooom, Email: cameron@oilersnation.com
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#1 Dante
July 31 2017, 11:37AM
Trash it!
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This is the Metro teams not the Atlantic.

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#2 Kyle
July 31 2017, 12:33PM
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I believe you mean the Metropolitan Division...

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#3 charly007
August 02 2017, 01:30AM
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nice post

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#4 Anika Singh
August 07 2017, 06:02AM
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Nice Article.

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