Adam Proteau explains the largest wants for the underside 4 groups within the NHL’s Metropolitan Division: the Penguins, Islanders, Flyers and Blue Jackets.
The NHL has arrived at its weeklong all-star break, and we’re within the means of breaking down every staff and projecting the place we see them headed by way of the league’s March 3 commerce deadline and the remainder of the season.
We began the breakdowns Monday with the underside 4 groups within the Pacific Division. Tuesday, we turned to the highest 4 Pacific groups.
Wednesday and Thursday, we analyzed the underside 4 and high 4 groups within the Central Division.
In the present day, we’re specializing in the underside 4 Metropolitan Division groups.
Standings Place: fifth
Projection: Hanging on for a playoff spot, both within the wild card or with the No. 3 place within the Metro; including a bottom-six ahead and/or a third-pair blueliner and/or a backup goaltender
Why: In the beginning of December, the Penguins have been firing on all pistons, profitable seven video games in a row and eight of 9 to submit a 19-9-4 file. Since then, they’ve stalled, going 5-7-5 earlier than the all-star break, they usually’re presently clinging to the ultimate Jap wild-card slot, though they’re solely three standings factors behind Washington, with 4 video games in hand on the Caps. The race within the Metro will proceed to be tough for them to maintain tempo with, however any staff with the timeless Sidney Crosby and a still-capable Evgeni Malkin will keep in playoff rivalry.
CapFriendly tasks the Penguins to have greater than $2.1 million in wage cap area – sufficient for GM Ron Hextall to accumulate a depth asset by the commerce deadline however not sufficient to usher in big-name expertise.
They want beginning goalie Tristan Jarry to return from harm as quickly as attainable, they usually want him to step up within the post-season. As we’ve seen in recent times, when the Pens don’t have stable goaltending, it doesn’t matter who else they’ve. We wonder if an accessible goalie, similar to San Jose’s James Reimer or Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka, might be a goal for them.
New York Islanders
Standings Place: sixth
Projection: In an immense battle with the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, and Penguins for a low playoff seed within the East; having an early exit within the post-season in the event that they do handle to get there
Why: The Islanders made the primary massive commerce splash of the brand new calendar yr, touchdown former Canucks captain Bo Horvat, and at a value that didn’t break the financial institution on the subject of draft picks and prospects. And GM Lou Lamoriello seemingly isn’t executed including items, provided that he’s projected to have greater than $11.3 million in cap space, and his staff wants assist for his or her bottom-six forwards and third defensive pairing. Goalies Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov can’t do all of the heavy lifting for them.
The Isles virtually assuredly might be within the struggle for a playoff spot, however there’s ample competitors for the East’s two wild-card berths, with the Rangers, Capitals, Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers all vying to lock one up. That can depart 4 groups severely disillusioned, and the Islanders might be a kind of 4 groups. That might be an utter catastrophe for Lamoriello and coach Lane Lambert. And that’s why we count on the Isles to proceed being lively within the commerce market. Failure is just not an choice for them.
Standings Place: seventh
Projection: Lingering on the fringes of the playoff image; hovering close to the twelfth to 14th spot within the East; remaining in Nowhere-Land competitively
Why: As we’ve argued in the course of the season, the Flyers are in in regards to the worst place you may be in hockey – removed from the underside of the NHL general standings and never shut sufficient to a playoff berth.
There’s no proof to recommend optimistic change is coming that can put them excessive for one of many hotly-contested Jap wild-card slots, however is Philadelphia GM Chuck Fletcher going to confess defeat and commerce away veteran property – forwards James van Riemsdyk and, maybe, Travis Konecny – or will he add items?
The Flyers don’t have a lot in the way in which of cap area ($2.8 million per CapFriendly) to usher in NHL-ready expertise, and it feels foolish to even recommend they’re one or two gamers away from being bona fide playoff contenders. Positive, perhaps they’re two gamers away if these two gamers are Sidney Crosby and Tage Thompson, however you recognize what we imply.
No, the transfer in Philly needs to be to deal away their non-core veterans and goal to construct for subsequent season and past. They might be a handful of wins out of a playoff spot, however that’s a mirage. There’s not sufficient younger, elite expertise right here at current, and till that adjustments, the Flyers might be removed from related, both within the playoffs or within the draft lottery.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Standings Place: eighth
Projection: Gathering mud on the backside of the Metro and staying a front-runner for the Connor Bedard Sweepstakes.
Why: Many observers didn’t see Columbus as a playoff contender, however few folks imagined the Blue Jackets can be this atrocious. The harm bug has laid waste to their roster, however we’re speaking a few staff that has not gained greater than two video games in a row even as soon as this season.
They’ve gained two video games in a row on three completely different events, they usually haven’t gained two straight video games since Dec. 11. They’ve 34 standings factors, tying them with Chicago for the fewest factors within the NHL, and the Blackhawks have three video games in hand on them. If it will get any extra grisly, there might be an ‘R’ score utilized to watching their video games.
With greater than $8.8 million in cap area per CapFriendly, GM Jarmo Kekalainen generally is a commerce facilitator by the deadline, and he additionally has some veteran NHL property to buy round. So, Columbus is sure to be even worse. Shudder and recoil.
Not all is misplaced, although, particularly if Columbus wins the draft lottery and makes Bedard their cornerstone part. Even when they don’t get the highest choose, the Blue Jackets are very prone to come away from the primary spherical of the draft with a dynamic younger point-producer, and that can assist restore some enamel to their feeble offensive assault.
However to get that participant, they need to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune for the following 10 weeks. There’s no different choice.
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