NHL Season Preview For Metropolitan Division, 2022-23

NHL Season Preview For Metropolitan Division, 2022-23
Tue 4th October 2022

We simply cannot wait for the new NHL season to start, and we are counting down the days until the very first puck drop. If you are like us and love the NHL, then you definitely need to have a read on below, as we take a look at each and every team from the Metropolitan Division and analyze their chances for success in this brand new season.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes have established themselves as a rock-solid team in the last couple of seasons. They are coming off back-to-back seasons winning more than 70% of the games. Last season, the Canes were the best defensive team in the league allowing only 2.44 goals per game but that was still not enough for playoff success.

The Hurricanes finished first in the Metropolitan Division and second in the Eastern Conference with a 54-20-8 record. They found their way over the Boston Bruins in the opening playoff round, winning in seven games but then were shocked on home ice losing the decisive game against the New York Rangers in the second round.

The Hurricanes’ general manager Don Waddell has proven to be one of the bravest in the league, making moves that have left many with their mouths open. He chose not to sign center Vincent Trocheck and second-line winger Nino Niederreiter who left in free agency. 

Waddell brought in Max Pacioretty from the Vegas Golden Knights but he tore his Achilles in the off-season and will be out of the lineup for at least six months. That is a huge blow for coach Rod Brind’Amour but the Hurricanes will be a contender as long as Sebastian Aho is developing into a real superstar. 

The 25-year-old center is one of the most underestimated players in the league but this will be the season when he brings the spotlight on himself. Aho is ninth in the league in goals and 17th in points over the past four seasons and we still haven’t seen the best of him.

Another player who will shine this season is Seth Jarvis who scored 17 goals for the Hurricanes last season as a teenager. As we all know, defense wins games and that is the case in the NHL as well. With the defensive mindset and the capability to protect their goal, the Hurricanes are set for another impressive season which will be crowned with a deep playoff run.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets had a mediocre season last year finishing sixth in the Metropolitan Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. They were a decent offensive team finishing 14th in the league in scoring, but the defensive end was the one that leaked as the Jackets were one of only five NHL teams to allow more than 300 goals last season.

But that one will pretty quickly be forgotten by the Columbus fans as they are very excited for the upcoming season and they have a real reason for that. In the off-season, the Blue Jackets signed Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames. Being one of the best players in the league already, Gaudreau had a chance to sign anywhere in the free agency and he chose the Blue Jackets.

With the signing of the left-wing, things are changing in a good direction for the Jackets. Gaudreau is a type of player who can simultaneously take over a game and make the difference night in and night out. With his arrival, the Blue Jackets get a whole new identity and will be one of the most exciting teams to watch in the upcoming season.

It will be very interesting to see how Gaudreau will play alongside Patrik Laine who signed a four-year extension with the team. If these two pair up well, and there is no reason not to, the Blue Jackets will be one of the teams that will make a major leap forward. 

It is a shame that the signings of Gaudreau and Laine made Oliver Bjorkstrand leave, but there is no doubt that the Blue Jackets will be a playoff team this season. Another player that can steal the show is the rookie Kirill Marchenko who finally decided to join the Blue Jackets after they drafted him four years ago.

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils are coming off a season to forget as they finished in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 27-46-9 record. With that record, the Devils missed the playoffs for the ninth time in the last ten years.

The Devils’ general manager Tom Fitzgerald made sure he added a veteran presence to the young core of the team, but it seems like it just wasn’t the season for the Devils. As former no. 1 picks Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes were developing into players the Devils’ needed, Dougie Hamilton and goaltender Jonathan Bernier suffered injuries that put them on the sideline for a longer period.

The Devils just couldn’t find defensive consistency, especially at the goalie position. Seven goalies got a chance to start for the Devils last season and that resulted in the second-worst saving percentage in the league with just the Seattle Kraken being worse.

The defense will be the key part of Devils’ success this season as major improvement needs to be done. Jonas Siegenthaler and Damon Severson are the players that a lot will depend on and if they can step up defensively, the Devils’ confidence will be on a higher level.

Vitek Vanecek was brought in from the Washington Capitals and is expected to be the starting goalie at the beginning of the season. He has seen success with the Caps, and that experience and winning mentality is exactly what the Devils need.

There is no doubt that Hischier and Hughes will continue to grow but it seems that this Devils team will need a few more years to make significant progress and be back in the playoffs. Occasional upsets against some of the best teams in the league will take place throughout following seasons, but the playoff drought will continue. 

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders were one of the teams that are coming off the most disappointing seasons. After appearing in the Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back seasons, the Islanders were considered one of the candidates for a deep playoff run but instead they failed to even advance to the postseason.

The Islanders finished fifth in the Metropolitan Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 37-35-10 record. It seems like they have just missed the playoffs but actually, they were 16 points shy of the Washington Capitals who secured the last playoff spot from the East.

Truth to be said, the main reason for the Islanders’ failure was the fact that they started the season with 13 straight road games as their new UBS Arena was still in the building process. The Islanders were terrible in the first month and a half of playing on the road, and things didn’t go well when they moved to their new home. 

The Islanders lost the first seven games at UBS Arena and at that point the season was gone. Since then, Lane Lambert has stepped in as a head coach replacing Barry Trotz. The majority of the roster is the same as it was in the seasons the Islanders were among the top four teams in the league.

There is no doubt that the Islanders will have a better season but the real question is how far they can really go. They are still a low-scoring team but fortunately, they are tough to score against as well. Last season, they allowed only 2.82 goals per game which put them in third place in the league. 

Goalie Ilya Sorokin is a superstar caliber player and he will be the Islanders’ main man this season. The Islanders will definitely be back in the playoffs and with a couple of smart moves during the season, they may even be back among the best teams in the league.

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers were all about Igor Shesterkin last year. The goalie had a phenomenal season posting a 36-13-4 record, with a .935 save percentage and only 2.07 goals allowed per game. The Russian was the key player in the Rangers’ biggest successes since the 2014-15 season.

New York finished second in the Metropolitan Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 52-24-6 record. Not many saw them going that high in the regular season but the real deal was about to come in the postseason. 

The Rangers turned things around against the Pittsburgh Penguins and won the first round series in seven games. No one saw them going past the best defensive team in the league, the Carolina Hurricanes, who they defeated in the seventh game on the road in the second round. 

The Rangers started red-hot against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals taking a 2-0 lead but they suddenly stopped there. Coach Gerard Gallant had a tremendous first season with the Rangers and it will be exciting to see where he can take this team in the next one.

Chris Kreider, who led the Rangers with 52 goals, will be the biggest offensive weapon for the Rangers but it is not a secret that Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are the one-two punch for the team from New York. Both of them averaged more than a point per game last season and there is no reason not to be even better in the 2022-23 campaign. 

Adam Fox is the key man on the defensive end who has been the game changer many times before for the Rangers. New York fans can be excited about this Rangers team as they are up for another successful push that may even take them to the Stanley Cup Final.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers came into the last season disappointed after missing the playoffs in the previous one. General Manager Chuck Fletcher made major roster changes but that saw the Flyers drowning even deeper last season.

They finished at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and 15th in the Eastern Conference with a 25-46-11 record. Coach Alain Vigneault was fired after two months in the season, being replaced by Mike Tao. Things started to look better with Tao on the bench but after a good two weeks under him, the Flyers went on a 12-game losing streak. Tao was also fired at the end of the season.

John Tortorella is the man who will take over the Flyers and he will be on the hot seat. The Flyers lost Claude Giroux who signed with the Ottawa Senators in the off-season and was their best offensive player.

The Flyers will now have to build a new identity since there is no player who can take the leading role. Cam Atkinson, James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes are veteran offensive players but none of them have what it takes to be a leader and there is doubt that they will stay healthy all season long.

The Flyers have a nice trio of young players in Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, and Morgan Frost, and they will be probably the only good thing for the Flyers this season. Philly’s fans are expecting the Flyers to be back among the top teams in the conference but the fact is that they are at least two years away from that. 

Many believed that they should have already started that but Fletcher decided to give one last try with this roster. The Flyers would be among the worst teams in the East and it will be no wonder if the rebuilding process starts during the season.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins proved once again that they are one of the most consistent teams in the NHL. They started the season with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being sidelined with injuries. The Penguins are definitely not the same team without their top two players but are a solid team that nobody can mess with.

Crosby and Malkin returned to the ice, both averaging more than a point per game. The Penguins finished the season with a 46-25-11 record which was good for third place in the Metropolitan Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.

They started the first round series taking a 3-1 lead over the division rival New York Rangers but lost the next three including the Game 7 overtime thriller. This was a huge blow for Mike Sullivan’s team but if any team can bounce back from such an exit, that is definitely Pittsburgh.

The main target in the off-season was signing Evgenii Malkin and Kris Letang to extensions. Even though things didn’t start very promising, the team managed to sign both players and now can focus on winning. Both Crosby and Malkin are in the upper half of their thirties and the Penguins will do everything they can to win with their both superstars still on the ice.

Jake Guentzel is a rising star who may give the Penguins extra energy when needed. Letang is the key man on the defensive end with only Brian Dumoulin and Marcus Pettersson remaining from last season. Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith are a confident duo at the goal line and the Penguins have no worries about that position.

Knowing that all these players are not getting any younger, the key to the Penguins’ success is staying healthy. If they manage to do that, there will be no team that would have an easy time facing them in the playoffs.

Washington Capitals

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Washington Capitals have made an early playoff exit every single season and last year was no different. The Caps had many ups and downs during the regular season but managed to finish fourth in the Metropolitan Division and grab the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 44-26-12 record.

They ran into the best team in the regular season, the Florida Panthers and managed to steal two games in the opening playoff round. Alex Ovechkin, as usual, was the best player on the team. He had his ninth season scoring more than 50 goals, which saw him climb to third place on the all-time scoring list right after Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.

So, will the following season be any different for the Capitals? Again they will depend mostly on Ovechkin and will often look like they are playing for his records instead for the ones of the team. The Capitals have finished in the top 10 offensive teams in the league which they will probably do again but the defense may be an issue.

The Capitals are the oldest team in the league with the average age of the players being slightly under 30. Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstorm are out with injuries and their absence will be tough to cover.

The rest of the crew is mostly the same as last season except for the goalies. Both Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek are no longer with the team. Their replacements are Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren which seems like a major upgrade.

The Capitals will be a solid team with many ups and downs during the long season. They will find a way to secure a playoff spot where they will probably stand no chance against any of the best teams in the East.

When the 2022 NHL season does eventually begin, make sure SportsTips is your go-to destination for NHL picks. We will provide NHL picks for each and every game of the season from our experts, so you can place your bets with more confidence!

Marko is a former athlete who meanwhile got his law degree. He has followed basketball since the ‘90s and is very familiar with all levels of the game, from the NBA, and the NCAA, all down to European leagues and international competitions. He is also very fond of tennis, soccer, NHL and MLB and can provide reliable previews and analysis that will lead you to placing a winning bet.