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The New York Islanders are back to competing in the standard version of the Metropolitan Division this season, which will likely prove to be the NHL’s toughest division. But as the team eyes another deep run, where could they finish within the divison?
We can start by considering which teams can be counted out from the playoff race first. The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t likely to compete this year, coming off a 28th overall finish last year and dealing away Seth Jones. Despite some major offseason additions, the New Jersey Devils look to be a victim of a very difficult division and are also unlikely to be a true contender this year.
This leaves six teams who could reasonably make the playoffs. I’d say that despite the offseason additions, the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the weaker of the six teams and still have concerns in goal. The New York Rangers also dealt away a key forward in Pavel Buchnevich and despite adding some quality depth, it’s questionable as to whether they’ll have a better fate this season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have aging rosters but are consistent playoff teams and every time we think they may finally face a decline, they end up right back in the mix. Both teams will certainly have a chance to find their way into the postseason once again but I would say I’m more confident in the Capitals being a playoff team.
Despite this, I’d say those four teams are arguably the third to sixth best teams in the division. Of the eight teams, I have the Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes as the division’s top two teams. The Hurricanes had a puzzling offseason but still have a huge amount of young talent and are poised to contend once again, but if the Islanders can remain consistent, I think they’re the top team in the division.
While I still believe the Islanders are lacking at least one top-line forward, they’re arguably the top defensive team in the NHL and also potentially have the top goaltending tandem in the league. This could be their year.
Prediction: 1st in the Metropolitan Division
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OTHER ARTICLES FROM OCTOBER
Projecting the New York Islanders’ 23-man roster
Contract details for Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise revealed
Islanders’ opening night roster released