With training camps in action and preseason games right around the corner, now is about the time we should go ahead and check in on our other friends in the Metropolitan Division.
Like how when you come back from summer to the first day of school and have awkward conversation with people who you didn't really like and hear about things they did over the summer that are stupid and you nod along and pretend to care but really you're either judging them or just wishing you were somewhere else?
Yeah. Like that. Onward!
New York Rangers
How last season ended: The Rangers picked up the Presidents' Trophy after an all-in, win-now trade deadline move in which they dealt a top-15 prospect (it's ok they have a really good farm system) and a first-round pick (their fourth straight traded first-round pick!) for Keith Yandle. Then, inexplicably, when they got to the playoffs, they abandoned the elite goaltender who won them the Presidents' Trophy.
That's right. They benched Cam Talbot -- LITERALLY the NHL's best goalie over the past two seasons, according to nerds -- and put in that choker Henrik Lundqvist. Can you believe it?
Unsurprisingly, from there they would go on to lose to the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals, greatly disappointing all of their $4500-ticket-buying, water-drinking fans.
What they did this offseason: That goalie who was their team's heart and soul last year? They traded him. To Edmonton. (After trying to spend a month convincing anyone who would listen that they could get a first round pick for him.) Good luck with that, the Rangers.
Also, they finally let old man Glen Sather go and take a nap, replacing him in the general manager role with Jeff Gorton. It should be interesting to see how Gorton, a noted racecar driver, does in his first year as a general manager of a hockey team. Bold move by the Rangers, IMO.
How last season ended: You're not going to believe this but the Capitals made the playoffs and had a series against the Rangers and had a big lead in it and then they choked and blew it which I mean I just can't fathom it that's all so unlike them.
What they did this offseason: They traded for T.J. Oshie. This is definitely a good move for them, because what the Washington Capitals needed was a forward who completely disappears in the postseason every year. (They also signed Justin Williams in free agency. Did you know that Justin Williams used to play for the Flyers? It gets discussed so infrequently, but it's true!)
Also, they used their first round draft pick on a goalie. A goalie. Guys, it's 2015. We've made tremendous strides in so many fields. I can have a meal delivered literally to the location that I am sitting by playing around on my phone for about 90 seconds. And there are still teams that are using first-round draft picks on goalies? Shaking my damn head, people. (Also shoutout to the Capitals for doing this two picks before the Flyers took Travis Konecny.)
New York Islanders
How last season ended: Those aforementioned Capitals actually beat the Islanders in a seven-game series to open up the playoffs, ending a reasonably satisfying season for the Islanders. This marked the end of the era of Nassau Coliseum, a place the Islanders had called home for its entire existence. As the Islanders' season came to an end, we all had to hear from an increasingly loud faction of folks from across the hockey world talking about how the Coliseum -- objectively a dump -- was actually a good and cool place to watch a hockey game.
Know who they should tell that to? All of the former Coliseum workers who were exposed to asbestos. It was bad. It's so bad that the Islanders decided that moving to Brooklyn in an arena with limited sightlines was an excellent idea.
What they did this offseason: Truthfully not a whole lot. Really, their most newsworthy moments of the offseason have come within the past week or two. They unveiled some new third jerseys last week, which was very kind of them, because it had all been way too long since the hockey community got together and laughed at the Islanders for something they did.
And they sent top prospect Josh Ho-Sang home on the first day of camp because he didn't set an alarm clock and overslept. The Islanders have received a lot of credit for using good drafting to find their way back to relevance, but it turns out they used a first-round pick on a guy who doesn't know how to use an alarm clock. Very concerning IMO.
How last season ended: After Ray Shero was fired last offseason, largely thanks to a terrible run of drafting that necessitated trading draft picks for rentals and depth players year after year after year, only to see those players fail to support Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the playoffs ... the Penguins' new GM, Jim Rutherford, traded a first-round draft pick for David Perron, second- and fourth-round draft picks for Daniel Winnik, and 23-year old Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy.
Despite these moves, the Penguins almost fell apart due to injuries down the stretch, only making the playoffs on the final night of the season, and then wasting what was Marc-Andre Fleury's only good postseason run in this decade as they bowed out to the Rangers in five games in the first round.
All of the players they acquired mid-season, unsurprisingly, were terrible. (Much like the Rangers, though, it's OK that they traded all of those draft picks, because the Penguins' farm system is good, and not bad.) (Just kidding it's really bad.) Even less surprisingly, after this postseason there was yet another round of speculation on whether or not the answer is for the Penguins to trade Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin and start over.
Personally, I think this would have been a great idea. That way they could build around adrenaline-providing players like Bobby Farnham, instead of Bad Leaders like Crosby.
What they did this offseason: They acquired Phil Kessel in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who -- despite, by most accounts, doing everything else right this offseason -- were so desperate to get rid of him that they gave away money and took back just two decent prospects and a single draft pick to get him. It's not surprising that they wanted Kessel gone, given that it's well-established that he's a bad influence in the locker room (due in no small part to his hot dog-eating habits).
Now he'll likely team up with Crosby -- also a known bad character influence and malcontent who enjoys eating gross things like mayonnaise -- and score a bunch of goals. (But poor-character-influence goals, which last I checked only counted for half of a goal on the scoreboard. You can look it up, it's in the rulebook.)
Also, since it's a new year, there's a new round of yammering about how the Penguins' supporting cast around their top players is Actually Good This Year, unlike every other year since they won the Cup. Sure, guys. Sure.
Columbus Blue Jackets
How last season ended: Out of the playoffs. The Jackets were doomed from the start last year, suffering such an absurd run of injuries last season that it was kinda sad. They ended the year on a nice run, though, winning 12 out of their 13 games. This winning streak accomplished two things.
First, it ensured we'd sit through another offseason (this has gotta be, what, the fifth or sixth in a row?) of everyone talking about how the Jackets would build off the momentum of their strong finish and carry it over to the next season, in which they would inevitably make The Leap to being A Team That People Actually Non-Ironically Pay Attention To. And second, it ensured that they'd win enough games to pass the Flyers in the standings, allowing the Flyers to take noted top defensive prospect Ivan Provorov the pick before the Blue Jackets selected some other schmuck. Thanks, pals!
Oh, also, they traded for David Clarkson. Five more years of David Clarkson. Sure -- the situation with Nathan Horton's chronic back problems was incredibly disappointing and sad to see unfold, and the Jackets felt a need to try and make something of it. I get that. But man, all those guys got together and decided the answer was "trade for David Clarkson"? Really?
What they did this offseason: They traded for Brandon Saad! Two-time Stanley Cup champion Brandon Saad. How exciting. Among the pieces they gave up for him include young forward Marko Dano, who is two years younger than Saad and posted a points-per-game figure all of three-hundredths-of-a-point below Saad last year despite not spending a majority of his ice time alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and despite not immediately demanding and receiving a six-year, $36 million contract upon being traded to Columbus.
A bold move, but one likely worth it given the fact that the Jackets' cap situation as it pertains to forwards is JESUS WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT
Yeeeeeesh. Shouldn't throw stones and all given the Flyers' cap situation, but that's a lot of long-term money tied up in guys who (other than Saad) are probably going to get worse before they get much better, all on a team that isn't very close to legitimate contention today. Recipe for success! (Still love u, Hartsy.)
That all said, the Saad move may be worth it in and of itself because of how much we'll get to hear Pittsburgh complain incessantly about how they should've drafted him four years ago for the next six years. Solid work, Jackets.
Also, I don't know where else to put this, but can we all take a second to acknowledge the fact that Steve Mason has a higher save percentage since April 3, 2013 (when this happened) than Sergei Bobrovsky does? Like, come the fuck on. That's hilarious.
New Jersey Devils
How last season ended: The Devils ended last seaszzzzzzzzzzzz holy crap this is the most boring team I have ever seen. Like, what do you even say about them? Their roster last year was not only abjectly bad, but it was just old and boring.
You know how you can kinda have fun watching a bad team if they're at least young and sorta entertaining? The Devils were not that. As last season ended, the Devils had exactly two forwards on their team that were under the age of 30. And they finished 25th in the NHL. God bless our friends over at All About The Jersey. I don't know how the hell they did this last year.
(And yes, I acknowledge that this is all true and will continue to be true and the Devils will still beat the Flyers probably at least three out of four times this year. I don't understand how this works, either.)
What they did this offseason: They hired Ray Shero to run their team! Fortunately, that problem described above where the Devils had no good young forwards? Ray Shero is really good at finding those!
...or wait, no, the total opposite of that. He's actually really bad at finding those. Godspeed, New Jersey.
In terms of personnel, they drafted Pavel Zacha, who scored almost exactly as frequently last season as poor Lawson Crouse, the guy who was raked over the coals for his lack of offensive production by many draft analysts. (They also did this the pick before the Flyers took Ivan Provorov. Chest bump, guys.)
Still, questions aside, he might instantly be a top-6 forward on that roster right now, which is not meant as a compliment to him. And just last week they picked up Jiri Tlusty for scraps, which -- despite the Hurricanes, who barely scored any more goals last year than the Devils did, deciding that they had no need for him -- was a good move because he too immediately becomes one of their best forwards.
Oh, also, Lou Lamoriello left to go run the Maple Leafs back in July. Truly the end of an era in New Jersey. Now who's going to laugh at Devils employees as they get fired?
How last season ended: They hired a nerd to do some part-time work for them and finished 26th in the NHL.
What they did this offseason: They hired that same nerd to do full-time work for them this season. Way to double down.
(We love you, Eric.)
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As you can see, everyone in the Metropolitan Division had a bad, and not good, offseason. Should make for some interesting hockey this year. We'll check in on everyone several more times as the season goes on.