How do the New York Rangers stack up in the improving Metro Division

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
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The calendar is slowly marching to the start of the 2023-24 season and the New York Rangers have had an eventful summer to date.

While fans await the signing of Alexis Lafreniere, let’s take a look at how the Metropolitan Division is shaking out.

NHL’s Metro Division

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
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Below is a list of all 8 Metro Division teams based on last year’s standings with key moves this offseason.

Note: Names in italics indicates an in-season trade followed by an offseason extension.

Carolina Hurricanes (Last Season Finish: 1st place – 52-21-9, 113 points)

Key Additions: Michael Bunting, Dmitry Orlov, Tony DeAngelo

Key Subtractions: Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Shayne Gostisbehere, Calvin de Haan

New Jersey Devils (Last Season Finish: 2nd place – 52-22-8, 112 points)

Key Additions: Timo Meier, Tyler Toffoli, Colin Miller

Key Subtractions: Tomas Tatar, Damon Severson, Ryan Graves, Miles Wood, Yegor Sharangovich. Jesper Boqvist

New York Rangers (Last Season Finish: 3rd place – 47-22-13, 107 points)

Key Additions: Blake Wheeler, Nick Bonino, Tyler Pitlick, Erik Gustafsson, Jonathan Quick

Key Subtractions: Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Motte, Niko Mikkola, Jaroslav Halak

New Head Coach: Peter Laviolette

New York Islanders (Last Season Finish: 4th place – 42-31-9, 93 points)

Key Additions: Julien Gauthier

Key Subtractions: Josh Bailey, Zach Parise

Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Season Finish: 5th place – 40-31-11, 91 points)

Key Additions: Lars Eller, Matt Nieto, Ryan Graves, Reilly Smith, Noel Acciari

Key Subtractions: Nick Bonino, Dmitry Kulikov, Brian Dumoulin, Jason Zucker

Washington Capitals (Last Season Finish: 6th place – 35-37-10, 80 points)

Key Additions: Max Pacioretty, Joel Edmundson

Key Subtractions: Conor Sheary, Dmitry Orlov, Garnet Hathaway, Connor Brown

New Head Coach: Spencer Carbery

Philadelphia Flyers (Last Season Finish: 7th place – 31-38-13, 75 points)

Key Additions: Cal Petersen, Garnet Hathaway, Sean Walker

Key Subtractions: Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk, Ivan Provorov, Tony DeAngelo

Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Season Finish: 8th place – 25-48-9, 59 points)

Key Additions: Ivan Provorov, Damon Severson

Key Subtractions: Jonas Korpisalo, Gustav Nyqvist

New Head Coach: Mike Babcock

How the Rangers stack up

new york rangers
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As we approach the month of August, NHL Training Camps are well over a month away. That means there’s still plenty of time for teams to make some tweaks and changes to their lineups.

Additionally, there remains a bevy of decent UFAs that could opt for low-cost one-year deals if they’re still unsigned in September. There’s also the rumored trade of superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks to either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Carolina Hurricanes. If that happens, it will indeed impact how this season will play out.

When looking at the Metro, I see three tiers at this early juncture: Out of the Playoffs, Wild Card Hunters, and Division Contenders.

Let’s break it down.

Out of the Playoffs

The Philadelphia Flyers are in full rebuild mode with a change in management led by former players Keith Jones and Daniel Briere. They’ve already jettisoned Kevin Hayes in a salary cap shedding deal and bought out defenseman Tony DeAngelo. Look for more veterans to be moved as they build a team that suits John Tortorella’s grinding style a little better.

For the Columbus Blue Jackets, injuries played a factor in their last place finish. They’ve upgraded their blue line and brought in veteran head coach Mike Babcock for what should be a much improved season. Who knows, if things go well they could get themselves into wild card contention.

Wild Card Hunter

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the upper hand here, especially after bringing in Kyle Dubas to run the show. He’s already made some solid moves to improve an aging lineup, but if he’s able to land Karlsson the Pens are playoff bound.

As for the Washington Capitals, they have an up-and-coming head coach in Spencer Carbery that should invigorate the vets and help the youngsters. The key to making the playoffs will be the health of Max Pacioretty, who is coming back from two Achilles tendon injuries.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders made the playoffs last season by the skin of their teeth over the Pens. Unfortunately, they’ve done very little to improve and may have taken a step back by being forced to trade Josh Bailey for cap purposes.

Division Contenders

The Rangers tailed off at the end of the 2022-23 campaign trying to find line chemistry after acquiring Patrick Kane at the deadline. They eventually finished in third place just six points out of the top spot.

General manager Chris Drury spent the offseason adding excellent value at a low-cost due to limited cap space. Bringing in players like Blake Wheeler, Jonathan Quick, and Nick Bonino to an already potent lineup for under $1 million each was excellent management.

Of course, the Blueshirts need their young players to take the next step in development if they hope to win the Metro. Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and K’Andre Miller must all make significant contributions this season.

At the moment, the division winning Carolina Hurricanes are looking like favorites again with the moves they’ve already made. That includes adding solid forward Michael Bunting to the mix and getting back a healthy Andrei Svechnikov. If they land Karlsson in a trade, another first-place finish seems inevitable.

Finally, the New Jersey Devils will be extremely dangerous if Akira Shmid plays a full season like he did against the Rangers in the playoffs. The other possibility is that Jersey adds either Connor Hellebuyck or John Gibson via a trade. Either of those two goalies will certainly improve their chances. With Jack Hughes realizing his full potential, signing Timo Meier after last year’s blockbuster trade, and adding Tyler Toffoli, the Devils are on the rise.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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