All Aboard The Metropolitan Division

 In case you didn’t know yesterday was the NHL Trade deadline. It’s an exciting day for hockey fans, some may even say it’s like Christmas. Whether your team is out of the playoff race or contending for a playoff spot, you spend the whole day refreshing social media waiting for trades to be announced. Always hoping your favorite team adds the best players in the league to their roster. 

There were a lot of trades announced yesterday, but I just want to focus on one division specifically. Let’s take a look at the Metropolitan Division. The teams that make up the Metro include: Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and New Jersey Devils. Of these teams, only the New Jersey Devils sit on the outside looking in. All the other teams are all in on the race to the playoffs. In fact, the New York Rangers who sit in 7th place in the Metro, are only 12 points back of the 1st place Washington Capitals, and are only 6 points out of a Wild Card position.  The race to the finish line is going to be quite entertaining, and the team’s know they aren’t done yet. Let’s take a look at how the race just got a little more interesting after Trade deadline day. 

Washington Capitals (82 pts)

The Washington Capitals were very active during this years Trade Deadline, but even before the deadline they completed a huge deal landing Defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks for a 2020 2nd round pick as well as as 2021 conditional 3rd round pick. Dillon adds a physical defenseman to the Caps lineup, which is always beneficial to a long playoff run.

Flash forward to the deadline, when the Capitals acquired Illya Kovalchuk via a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Kovalchuk has always been one of my favorite players. His powerful shot, and playmaking abilities have always made him one of the most entertaining guys to watch on the rink. Kovalchuk has had his up and downs with the NHL over the past couple of seasons. He has played for the Thrashers, Devils, Kings, and most recently the Canadiens, Kovalchuk has been pretty average with those teams. However imagining him along side stars like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kutznetsov, and TJ Oshie is what nightmares are made of. Thinking of what that power play is capable of is just nerve racking to me. And oh yeah, the Capitals also added former Penguins prospect Daniel Sprong via a trade with the Anaheim Ducks.

Pittsburgh Penguins (80)
The Pittsburgh Penguins are having one of the most bizarre seasons yet. A team that has missed star players like Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Brian Dumoulin for a good amount of the season has somehow found it’s way back to the top of the standings. The one two punch combo of goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry is truly something magical to watch. Just like the Capitals, the Penguins are not settling down. The Penguins big move prior to the deadline was adding Jason Zucker via a trade with the Minnesota Wild. So far Zucker has had an instant connection with Sidney Crosby on the 1st line, totaling 3 goals and 2 assists in 7 games with the Penguins. 

In addition to adding Zucker, the Penguins announced they acquired Patrick Marleau from the San Josh Sharks for a conditional 3rd round pick. In my opinion adding Marleau is a low risk, high reward type of deal. Marleau has proven he can be a force on the rink scoring goals and playing a two way style game, and most importantly he’s proved he can be a leader. I think that is one of the reasons why Jim Rutherford wanted to bring him into the Penguins Organization. Think about the Penguins most recent cup runs with guys like Gary Roberts, Bill Guerin, and Matt Cullen. These veteran players bring a lot to the game as well as the locker room. Their experiences and playoff experiences alone make them a force to be reckoned with during a grueling 7 game series.

The Penguins decided to add some depth during the Trade Deadline, and with all the injuries this season, can you blame them? Some other moves include adding Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues from the Buffalo Sabres, and Phil Varone and Riley Barber from the Montreal Canadiens. In addition, the returns of Dumoulin, Marino, and Bjugstad easily compare to adding players at the deadline.

Philadelphia Flyers (77 pts)

The Flyers are not far behind the Pens and the Caps, currently sitting on a 3 game win streak. The Flyers looked to add grit and depth to their lineup with the addition of Nathan Thompson from the Montreal Canadiens, Derek Grant from the Anaheim Ducks, and Nathan Noel from the Chicago Blackhawks. Look to the Flyers to continue their success with these little additions to their playoff push.

Nathan Thompson acquired by the Philadelphia Flyers

New York Islanders (76 pts)

Leading the Wild Card Race, we have the New York Islanders. The Islanders look to build on their playoff success from last year’s playoffs. The Islanders big move of the day was acquiring Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators. The Islanders did give up a ton for Pageau, including a 2020 Conditional 1st round pick, 2020 2nd round pick, and a 2020 conditional 3rd round pick. Pageau is a great addition for the Isles, as he can play pretty much any role. The Isles now have a solid group of 4 centers (Barzal, Nelson, Pageau, Koivula), which will give every opponent nightmares in the face-off circle. 

Columbus Blue Jackets (76 pts)

The Columbus Blue Jackets had a pretty quiet Trade Deadline after a crazy Deadline last year where they acquired Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Keith Kinkaid, and Adam McQuaid. In fact, the Blue Jackets only made one trade today with the Anaheim Ducks. The Blue Jackets received Devin Shore in exchange for Sonny Milano.

Carolina Hurricanes (74 pts)

The most active team in yesterday’s deadline had to be the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bunch of Jerks, added forward Vincent Trocheck to their squad. This is a great move for the Canes, Trocheck can play a physical game, and is no stranger to finding the back of the net. In 55 games, Trocheck has netted 10 goals and 26 assists this season. I will not be surprised if he doubles that total by the end of the season playing with the Hurricanes. The Canes did give up a lot for Trocheck, (Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Eetu Luostarinen, Chase Priskie), however there’s no doubt in my mind Trocheck was worth it. I am honestly shocked the Panthers let him go that easily.

In addition, the Canes built upon their blue line with the acquisitions of Defensemen, Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen. Both are puck moving defensemen that have been known to put the puck in the net from time to time.

New York Rangers (70 pts)

The New York Rangers are not out of the playoff race just yet. Anything can happen during these last few weeks of the season.  The Rangers were not very active this deadline, as they are in a rebuilding mode. However, they did acquire a 1st round pick for Brady Skjei, which will definitely help them during the rebuilding process. Many people believed Henrik Lundqvist would be on the move, but as a result of Igor Shesterkin being involved in a car accident, the Rangers decided to stay put with Lundqvist and Alexander Georgieve between the pipes for now. 

The biggest news of the day was the announcement of a seven year contract extension with Chris Kreider. Kreider was the top possible trade piece on the market, and was set to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. With the signing of Kreider, the Rangers can now focus on building the team around him.

New Jersey Devils (58 pts)

It’s all about said and done for the Devils this year. The Devils were very active this Trade Deadline for all of the wrong reasons. The Devils gave up Forward Blake Coleman, Forward Wayne Simmonds, and Defenseman Andy Greene. In these deals the Devils received a few picks, as well as some prospects. The most promising being Forward Nolan Foote. This might not be the Devils year, but their future may look bright.

Another NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and now the most exciting time of the season is upon us. I can’t wait to see how the race to the playoffs ends up for the Metropolitan Division. 

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