2015-16 NHL Divisional Breakdown: Metropolitan

Updated: September 17, 2015 at 1:24 pm by Brock Seguin


In the past I have done a breakdown of all 30 NHL teams. This season I have decided to break it down by division with a preview for each team inside!

In the Atlantic Division Preview I noted that one of the biggest offseason moves was the hiring of Mike Babcock, but the biggest move was probably Phil Kessel being traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. This helps Kessel’s fantasy value a tonne, but I don’t think it will be enough to push the Penguins back to the top of the Metropolitan Division.

1. Washington Capitals

Additions: Subtractions:
T.J Oshie – RW Mike Green – D
Justin Williams – RW Joel Ward – RW
Zach Sill – C Troy Brouwer – RW
Dan Ellis – G Cam Schilling – D
Taylor Chorney – D Steven Oleksy – D
Chris Conner – RW

The Capitals made a big acquisition this summer as well. They traded for T.J Oshie and brought in Justin Williams via free agency, both of whom should play in the Capitals top-6. They join a forward group that consists of proven commodities Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom as well as up and coming talent like Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky. The Capitals are currently listed at 18/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. (per vegasinsider.com)

Ovechkin has led the NHL in goals in each of the last three seasons, scoring 39 more than any other play in the NHL. With an elite playmaker like Backstrom in the middle, Ovechkin has a chance to make it four straight years. The additions of Oshie and Williams as well as the improvement of their young players gives the Capitals secondary scoring like they’ve never had before.

On the blueline they lost Mike Green this summer, but still have a quality group of defensemen, led by John Carlson. The 25-year-old turned in a career year in 2014-15 and will look to climb into the group of fantasy’s elite defensemen this season. Matt Niskanen is the only other Capitals defenseman worth owning in fantasy, but he isn’t the 46-point player he was in 2013-14 with the Penguins.

Braden Holtby is the real reason why I like the Capitals to win the Metropolitan this season. Holtby proved he was among the NHL’s elite last season when he started a league-high 73 games, ranked second in Wins (41) and shutouts (9), fifth in GAA (2.22) and seventh in SV% (.923). He probably won’t start 73 games again, but he should be among the league leaders in wins and have the Capitals near or at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Alex Ovechkin – LW
  2. Nicklas Backstrom – C
  3. Braden Holtby – G
  4. John Carlson – D
  5. T.J Oshie – RW

Click HERE for the Capitals’ Projected Line Combinations

2. New York Rangers

Additions: Subtractions:
Emerson Etem – RW Carl Hagelin – RW
Antti Raanta – G Matt Hunwick – D
Viktor Stalberg – LW Mike Kostka – D
Raphael Diaz – D Ryan Haggerty – RW
Jayson Megna – C
Brian Gibbons – C

In 2014-15 the Rangers qualified for the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four seasons. Coming into 2015-16, they are listed as having 12/1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup this year.

Upfront the Rangers have a solid group of forwards, but it is their blueline that is the most impressive. They added Keith Yandle last season to a group that is made up of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Dan Boyle and Kevin Klein. That D-corps rivals the Predators and Flames for the best in the league. In a full season with New York, Yandle should pace this group in points.

What makes that blueline look even better is having Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes behind them. He was limited to just 46 games last season because of a neck injury, but barring injury again this season he should get back to 65 games. With an elite blueline in front of him and last year’s third ranked offence…he is a top net minding option and the reason the Rangers will compete for the Presidents Trophy again this season.

Aside from the additions of Emerson Etem and Viktor Stalberg, the Rangers’ forward group is very similar to last year’s. Rick Nash tops the list having scored 42 goals last season, but consistency from one year to the next has plagued him throughout his career. He is a high-end goal scorer but I’m sure the Rangers aren’t banking on back-to-back 40-goal seasons. Around Nash there is a lot of steady talent like Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan as well as young talent just getting started like Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. This is definitely a team that is going to do some damage in the East this year.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Henrik Lundqvist – G
  2. Rick Nash – LW
  3. Keith Yandle – D
  4. Derek Stepan – C
  5. Derick Brassard – C

Click HERE for the Rangers’ Projected Line Combinations

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

Additions: Subtractions:
Phil Kessel – RW Paul Martin – D
Sergei Plotnikov – LW Thomas Greiss – G
Steven Olesky – D Blake Comeau – LW
David Warsofsky – D Steve Downie – RW
Kael Mouillierat – LW Nick Spaling – C
Nick Bonino – C Daniel Winnik – LW
Eric Fehr – RW Scott Harrington – D
Matt Cullen – C Taylor Chorney – D
Jayson Megna – C

Last year was the ninth consecutive season that the Penguins have qualified for the playoffs, but were bounced in the first round for the third time in the last five seasons. Coming into this season they will look to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2008-09—currently they’re listed as 13/1 odds to do so.

The acquisition of Kessel and the signing of Sergei Plotnikov from Russia give the Penguins a terrifying top six. Sure, Chris Kunitz could still factor into the top two lines, bumping either David Perron or Plotnikov from the equation, but either way they’ll be scary. Sidney Crosby is the favourite to win the scoring title as long as he can stay healthy. The same goes with Evgeni Malkin…health is the only concern. If they both stay on the ice for 80 games, this could be the best team in the NHL. However, history suggests that won’t happen. Regardless, there is a lot to like about the Penguins’ group of forwards from a fantasy perspective.

Speaking of health. There is no way Kris Letang makes it through a whole year right? Letang is a top defensive option, but his health concerns will see him drop on draft day. However he still holds a tonne of value because when he is playing, he is going to rake in a lot of points both at even strength and on the power-play. This isn’t a scary blueline to face, but there is a lot of fantasy potential in both Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot.

In goal there are no secrets. Marc-Andre Fleury is the clear number one and he will start around 67 games like he has almost every year of his career. He had a great year last year, but his GAA will likely hover around 2.40 and SV% around .915. Not elite numbers, but he will have plenty of goal support making him a candidate to lead the NHL in wins.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Sidney Crosby – C
  2. Evgeni Malkin – C
  3. Phil Kessel – RW
  4. Kris Letang – D
  5. Marc-Andre Fleury – G

Click HERE for the Penguins’ Projected Line Combinations

4. New York Islanders

Additions: Subtractions:
Thomas Greiss – G Michal Neuvirth – G
Joe Whitney – LW Matt Donovan – D
Colin McDonald – D

After making the playoffs in just one of the previous five seasons, the Islanders made the postseason a year ago and appear poised to make it for a second straight season. They haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1982-83 but have 22/1 odds to win this year.

Aside from their backup goalie, the Islanders are basically the same team that they were a season ago. Upfront they have a strong group of young forwards. John Tavares will battle for the league’s scoring title with Kyle Okposo on one wing, but who will play on his left side is anyone’s guess. It could be Anders Lee, Brock Nelson or Josh Bailey or the trio could rotate throughout the season. Behind Tavares, Frans Nielsen is a steady second line winger and Ryan Strome is a future superstar.

On the blueline, Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy stepped in last year and were everything the Islanders could have hoped. Boychuk plays a role he was never given a chance to play when he is in Boston and his big shot makes him a candidate for double-digit goals this season. Leddy had a career year in his first season with the Isles and has been extremely consistent throughout his career. You won’t get elite numbers from him, but he is a lock for 30-35 points with upside. Travis Hamonic also had the best season of his young career (5G / 28A) while leading Islanders’ defensemen in hits (213) and finishing third in blocked shots (131).

In goal, Jaroslav Halak started a career high 59 games last season and he could be poised for 60-plus starts in 2015-16. Halak has a career 2.39 GAA and .917 SV%—with a good team in front of him, he could become a top-10 fantasy net minder this year. New York signed Thomas Greiss this summer. He is a high-end backup and will pick up the slack if Halak falters.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. John Tavares – C
  2. Jaroslav Halak – G
  3. Kyle Okposo – RW
  4. Ryan Strome – C
  5. Nick Leddy – D

Click HERE for the Islanders’ Projected Line Combinations

5. Columbus Blue Jackets

Additions: Subtractions:
Brandon Saad – LW Artem Anisimov – C
Gregory Campbell – C Marko Dano – C
Brian Gibbons – C
Mark Letestu – C

The Blue Jackets were ravaged by injuries last year and only missed the playoffs by nine points. This summer they made a huge move by acquiring Brandon Saad from Chicago. This is one of the best Blue Jackets teams that we’ve seen and they were given 25/1 odds to win their first Stanley Cup.

Saad scored 23 goals with 29 assists (52 points) last season and will look to build off of that in his fourth full season. He will likely play with budding superstar Ryan Johansen and the two could form one of the most dynamic duos in the league for many years. They’re joined by Nick Foligno, who had an incredible 2014-15 season, Scott Hartnell who just scores regardless of who he plays with and Brandon Dubinsky who is just as good defensively as he is offensively. It is an unproven group, but a group that could do some damage in the Metro.

In between the pipes, Sergei Bobrovsky is a top-10 fantasy netminder but has had a difficult time staying healthy in the last two seasons. He has won 30-plus games each of the last two years, but if he starts 65 games, he could be a 40-game winner.

In front of Bobrovsky is a quality blueline. Jack Johnson is the leader on D and has only missed seven games in his last five seasons. He is a steady blueliner, with a lot of offensive talent. In 2014-15 he had his best offensive season as a Blue Jacket , posting eight goals and 32 assists (40 points). David Savard, 24, is Johnson’s D-partner and burst onto the scene last year. In addition to Johnson and Savard, Ryan Murray has the look of a future star, but injuries have slowed his progress since being drafted second overall in 2012.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Ryan Johansen – C
  2. Sergei Bobrovsky – G
  3. Brandon Saad – LW
  4. Nick Foligno – LW
  5. Scott Hartnell – LW

Click HERE for the Blue Jackets’ Projected Line Combinations

6. Philadelphia Flyers

Additions: Subtractions:
Michal Neuvirth – G Nicklas Grossmann – D
Colin McDonald – RW Ray Emery – G
Jason LaBarbera – G
Chris Conner – RW

The Flyers hired a new head coach this offseason after missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. They finally got decent goaltending, but their offence ranked 21st after ranking fourth in goals (2.96 G/PG) in the previous five seasons. They haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1975 and based on their 100/1 odds it doesn’t look like it will happen in 2015-16.

When you look at their forwards, you have to expect the Flyers to at least move back into the top-15 in scoring this season. Claude Giroux is one of the NHL’s best playmakers and his linemate Jakub Voracek isn’t bad either. The two combined for 47 goals and 107 assists (154) points last season and could prove to be one of the better duos in the NHL if they can repeat that this year. In addition to Giroux and Voracek, Wayne Simmonds is as close to a 30-goal scorer as you can be  (28 & 29 goals in the last two years)—Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier continue to improve with each passing year and the Flyers need them to breakout this season if they’re going to make it back to the postseason.

On defence the Flyers have a different looking group than they did a season ago. They brought in Radko Gudas at the trade deadline last season, but he didn’t play a game because of injury. Yevgeny Medvedev is expected to join the team after playing in Russia since 2002. They will join the likes of Mark Streit, who is their best point producing defenseman and Michael Del Zotto who had a nice bounce-back season last year, but has always dealt with consistency issues.

Last year Steve Mason started just 51 games, winning 18 with the NHL’s third best SV% (.928) and seventh best GAA (2.25). This year he will look to start 60-plus games and build off of last year’s success. However, if he struggles, the Flyers brought in a very capable backup, Michal Neuvirth, who will pick up the slack. This is the best goaltending tandem Philly has had in sometime and if their offence gets back into top-five form, they could find themselves playing in postseason hockey.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Claude Giroux – C
  2. Jakub Voracek – RW
  3. Wayne Simmonds – RW
  4. Steve Mason – G
  5. Mark Streit – D

Click HERE for the Flyers’ Projected Line Combinations

7. Carolina Hurricanes

Additions: Subtractions:
James Wisniewski – D Anton Khudobin – G
Eddie Lack – G Alex Semin – RW
Kris Versteeg – LW
Joakim Nordstrom – C

The Hurricanes are a work in progress, but they are getting better. They missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season last year and probably won’t get back there this season. Vegas has the Hurricanes listed as 100/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

Upfront the Hurricanes are led by the Staal brothers, Eric and Jordan. While Eric’s production has fallen off in recent years, he is still just 30-years-old and capable of turning in a 70-point season at anytime. Jordan isn’t nearly as offensive, but plays a great two way game and has 25-goal upside. Jeff Skinner could be their top offensive threat, but injuries have slowed him down in his first five NHL seasons and year-to-year consistency has been an issue. After the big three, the Hurricanes have a lot of young talent who are just hitting their stride. Elias Lindholm is going to be a stud and Victor Rask is poised for a breakout year in the ‘Canes top-six.

There is also a lot to like about the young talent that Carolina has on their blueline. Justin Faulk has turned himself into a great all around defensemen and Ryan Murphy is just scratching the surface offensively. This offseason they brought in veteran James Wisniewski, who will help the power-play and their 2014 first-round pick, Haydn Fleury, should make an impact in 2015-16.

However, Carolina’s biggest strength lies between the pipes. Cam Ward has been really consistent though his first 10 years and they acquired Eddie Lack from Vancouver this summer. That is a nice one-two punch and the two of them will definitely push each other for playing time. If Carolina is going to be successful this season, Ward and Lack will need to be outstanding.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Eric Staal – C
  2. Justin Faulk – D
  3. Elias Lindholm – C
  4. Jeff Skinner – LW
  5. Cam Ward – G

Click HERE for the Hurricanes’ Projected Line Combinations

8. New Jersey Devils

Additions: Subtractions:
Kyle Palmieri – RW Peter Harrold – D
John Moore – D Joe Whitney – LW

Remember in 2012 when the Devils surprised everyone by making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Well, since then they haven’t been able to finish above fifth in the division and could be the worst team in the NHL in 2015-16. It is no surprise that they are also listed as 100/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.

When talking about the Devils, the only positive is having Cory Schneider between the pipes. Despite playing on a terrible Devils team, he still ranked fifth in the NHL in SV% (.925) and ninth in GAA (2.26). He won’t win a lot of games because a lack of goal support, but he is still capable of posting top-10 splits.

Their next best unit is their blueline. Adam Larsson finally showed he could be a top-pair defenseman last year after four disappointing years to start his career. Still just 22-years-old, Larsson should be a great defenseman for the Devils for years to come. Damon Severson is another bright spot. He had a great rookie season going before it was cut short by injury. He has great offensive ability and should lead this unit in points this season. Eric Gelinas is another quality young blueliner with loads of offensive upside.

If any other team added Kyle Palmieri, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But, New Jersey added him this summer and he will likely play on their top line and could lead the team in points. No disrespect to Palmieri, he is a quality forward, but he shouldn’t be leading your team in points. Mike Cammalleri will do what he does. Play roughly 65 games and score roughly 25 goals. Adam Henrique is a solid second line centre but so is Travis Zajac. The problem? One of them has to be a first line centre. Zajac was god awful last year…He can’t be worse this season, but he will probably only be fantasy relevant in deep leagues.

Look to the Draft (Top 5 Fantasy Players)

  1. Cory Schneider – G
  2. Mike Cammalleri – LW
  3. Patrik Elias – LW
  4. Damon Severson – D
  5. Adam Henrique – C

Click HERE for the Devils’ Projected Line Combinations

For a Full 30 Team preview and player projections and fantasy analysis for 300-plus players and goalies. Click HERE to purchase our Fantasy Hockey Draft Guide for just $4.95 CAD!  

Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, Alex Ovechkin, Anders Lee, Andre Burakovsky, Braden Holtby, Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Saad, Brayden Schenn, Brock Nelson, Cam Ward, Carl Hagelin, Carolina Hurricanes, Chris Kreider, Chris Kunitz, Claude Giroux, Columbus Blue Jackets, Cory Schneider, Damon Severson, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, David Perron, David Savard, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Derrick Pouliot, Eddie Lack, Elias Lindholm, Emerson Etem, Eric Gelinas, Eric Staal, Evgeni Malkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Frans Nielsen, Haydn Fleury, Henrik Lundqvist, Jack Johnson, Jakub Voracek, James Wisniewski, Jaroslav Halak, Jeff Skinner, Joel Ward, John Carlson, John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Staal, Josh Bailey, Justin Faulk, Justin Williams, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, Kris Letang, Kyle Okposo, Kyle Palmieri Mike Cammelleri, Marc Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Streit, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Niskanen, Metropolitan Division, Michael Del Zotto, Michal Neuvirth, Mike Green, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Nick Foligno, Nick Leddy, Nicklas Backstrom, Olli Maatta, Phil Kessel, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Radko Gudas, Rick Nash, Ryan Johansen, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murray, Scott Hartnell, Sean Couturier, Sergei Bobrovsky, Sergei Plotnikov, Sidney Crosby, Stanley Cup, Steve Mason, T.J Oshie, Thomas Greiss, Travis Hamonic, Travis Zajac, Troy Brouwer, Victor Rask, Viktor Stalberg, Washington Capitals, Yevgeny Medvedev