NHL offseason grades: Metropolitan Division

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Divisions: Metropolitan | Central | Pacific | Atlantic

With the NHL offseason all but wrapped up, we're handing out grades for all 32 teams. The four-part series begins with an in-depth look at each club in the Metropolitan Division.

Some contract figures are reported. Most players on two-way deals have been omitted.

Carolina Hurricanes

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Jesperi Kotkaniemi F 1 year $6.1M
Derek Stepan F 1 year $1.35M
Josh Leivo F 1 year $750K
Ethan Bear D 1 year $2M
Ian Cole D 1 year $2.9M
Brendan Smith D 1 year $800K
Tony DeAngelo D 1 year $1M
Antti Raanta G 2 years $2M
Frederik Andersen G 2 years $4.5M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Warren Foegele F Traded to EDM
Brock McGinn F Signed with PIT
Cedric Paquette F Signed with MTL
Morgan Geekie F Expansion draft
Dougie Hamilton D Signed with NJ
Jake Bean D Traded to CBJ
Jani Hakanpaa D Signed with DAL
Alex Nedeljkovic G Traded to DET
Petr Mrazek G Signed with TOR
James Reimer G Signed with SJ

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Andrei Svechnikov F 8 years $7.75M
Jordan Martinook F 3 years $1.8M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Jack Drury F 2nd round (2018)
Ryan Suzuki F 1st round (2019)

The Hurricanes had an absurdly eventful offseason, easily the busiest in the NHL. We've done our best to break it down into a few separate parts.

The good

Carolina signed Svechnikov to a max-term deal at an affordable rate, which was a tidy piece of business. The 21-year old is a superstar in the making and an integral part of Carolina's attack.

Bear is a nice addition to a defensive corps that lost a huge piece.

The bad

The Hurricanes traded Nedeljkovic, a Calder Trophy finalist and seemingly the stable future in goal for a pick and player the club ultimately let walk. It was a peculiar decision at best.

They also let Hamilton hit the open market, which could prove to be a costly mistake. He joined a division rival at a cheaper cost than several inferior blue-liners signed this offseason. Not only is Hamilton elite at shot suppression, he's one of the league's best offensive defensemen.

The uncertain

Bringing in Andersen and Raanta aboard carries a lot of risk. Both goalies have been capable starters in the NHL but are injury prone and a few years removed from their best work. Retaining Nedeljkovic and finding a cheaper backup would have been the more sensible approach.

The Hurricanes insist they didn't give an offer sheet to Kotkaniemi out of spite for Montreal's attempt to poach Sebastian Aho a few years back, but the hockey world isn't convinced. Why else would you give a low-ceiling offensive player $6.1 million per season? If Kotkaniemi doesn't pan out, this could be remembered as an all-time blunder.

The unnecessary

Signing DeAngelo after the Rangers bought him out drew plenty of ire from fans across the league. What has the controversial blue-liner done to prove he deserves another chance?

Grade: D+

Columbus Blue Jackets

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Jakub Voracek F 3 years $8.25M
Sean Kuraly F 4 years $2.5M
Jake Bean D 3 years $2.33M
Adam Boqvist D 1 year $894K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Cam Atkinson F Traded to PHI
Seth Jones D Traded to CHI

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Patrik Laine F 1 year $7.5M
Alexandre Texier F 2 years $1.525M
Boone Jenner F 4 years $3.75M*
Eric Robinson F 2 years $1.6M*
Zach Werenski D 8 years $9.583M*

* Extension beginning in 2022-23

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Kent Johnson F 1st round (2021)
Yegor Chinakhov F 1st round (2020)
Kirill Marchenko F 2nd round (2018)

The Blue Jackets weren't big players in free agency but were still active throughout the offseason. Columbus got a great haul in trading Jones to Chicago and added three projected impact players in the first round of the draft. Its top prospects won't be in the NHL lineup in October but could join for a late-season showcase.

Werenski's extension is pricey, but it was important for Jarmo Kekalainen to secure a core player to a long-term deal after losing so many in recent years. Laine will need a new contract next year, but a fresh start under a new head coach could provide the spark he needs.

Bringing Voracek back seems like a lateral move, but it saves the organization money during its rebuild. Perhaps the veteran playmaker can be the one to feed Laine's lethal one-timer on the power play.

Grade: B

New Jersey Devils

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Tomas Tatar F 2 years $4.5M
Dougie Hamilton D 7 years $9M
Ryan Graves D 2 years $3.16M
Jonathan Bernier G 2 years $4.125M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Nathan Bastian F Expansion draft
Will Butcher D Traded to BUF
Connor Carrick D Signed with SEA
Aaron Dell G Signed with BUF

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Janne Kuokkanen F 2 years $1.825M
Yegor Sharangovich F 2 years $2M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Alexander Holtz F 1st round (2020)
Nolan Foote F 1st round (2019 by TB)
Kevin Bahl D 2nd round (2018 by ARI)

The Devils took significant strides toward contending with a slew of shrewd moves. Hamilton, of course, was the biggest splash of the summer and he'll anchor New Jersey's top defensive pairing for several years to come. Adding Graves for a second-round pick and a prospect is another move that significantly bolsters the Devils' back end, which has been a weakness for years.

New Jersey also pounced on Tatar, who was somehow available after the initial wave of free-agent signings. His presence on the wing, likely alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier, provides the Devils a veteran presence with strong play-driving and offensive ability. Scoring depth was an area Tom Fitzgerald needed to address in order to progress his rebuild this year.

Last but not least, Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood form a formidable duo in goal. The Devils strengthened their lineup at every position this summer, and it should pay major dividends for a team on an upward trajectory.

Grade: A

New York Islanders

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Zach Parise F 1 year Undisclosed
Richard Panik F 2 years $1.375M
Zdeno Chara D 1 year Undisclosed

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Jordan Eberle F Expansion draft
Josh Ho-Sang F Became UFA
Travis Zajac F Became UFA
Nick Leddy D Traded to DET

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Casey Cizikas F 6 years $2.5M
Kyle Palmieri F 4 years $5M
Anthony Beauvillier F 3 years $4.15M
Adam Pelech D 8 years $5.75M
Andy Greene D 1 year $1M
Ilya Sorokin G 3 years $4M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

N/A

Most of the Islanders' work this summer was to retain restricted free agents, and, as usual, general manager Lou Lamoriello managed to keep the cost to a minimum. Some were surprised at Pelech's eight-year contract, but he's an underrated rock on New York's top pairing and a tremendous fit in Barry Trotz's system.

Six years for Cizikas is a lot, but the cost is low and he plays a significant role as well. Everywhere else, the deals are fair for an Islanders team that's missed the Stanley Cup Final by a hair in back-to-back seasons.

Lamoriello's reunion with Parise was the flashiest move New York made this offseason. He's a low-risk, high-reward project and should be motivated as ever to gun for a ring after his stunning buyout from Minnesota.

Grade: B+

New York Rangers

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Barclay Goodrow F 6 years $3.64M
Ryan Reaves F 1 year $1.75M*
Sammy Blais F 1 year $1.5M
Patrik Nemeth D 3 years $2.5M
Jarred Tinordi D 2 years $900K

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Pavel Buchnevich F Traded to STL
Colin Blackwell F Expansion draft

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Filip Chytil F 2 years $2.3M
Igor Shesterkin G 4 years $5.56M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Vitali Kravtsov F 1st round (2018)
Nils Lundkvist D 1st round (2018)
Zac Jones D 3rd round (2019)

The Rangers have a terrific core in place and are poised to benefit from Gerard Gallant's hiring as head coach. However, Chris Drury's first offseason in charge was a weird one. The rookie GM overpaid for a depth piece in Goodrow, then dealt a third-round pick for Reaves. Ownership wanted to get tougher after last season's Tom Wilson debacle, so Drury's hand might have been forced, but prioritizing an enforcer for a high-octane team that needs defensive help isn't the wisest course of action.

Hauling Blais and a second-rounder for Buchnevich was also underwhelming. Blais is only under contract for one season and Buchnevich was an underrated piece of New York's offense in a breakout 2020-21. His demands as a restricted free agent may have priced some teams out of the trade market, but it feels like the Rangers could have done better in moving on from the talented winger.

Drury's best work this summer was locking up Shesterkin. His deal is team-friendly and should pay off immediately.

Grade: C-

Philadelphia Flyers

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Derick Brassard F 1 year $825K
Cam Atkinson F 4 years $5.875M
Ryan Ellis D 6 years $6.25M
Rasmus Ristolainen D 1 year $5.4M
Keith Yandle D 1 year $900K
Martin Jones G 1 year $2M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Jakub Voracek F Traded to CBJ
Nolan Patrick F Traded to NSH
Robert Hagg D Traded to BUF
Shayne Gostisbehere D Traded to ARI
Philippe Myers D Traded to NSH

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Joel Farabee F 6 years $5M*
Sean Couturier F 8 years $7.75M*
Travis Sanheim D 2 years $4.675M
Samuel Morin D 1 year $750K
Carter Hart G 3 years $3.979M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Tyson Foerster F 1st round (2020)
Cam York D 1st round (2019)

Like the Hurricanes, the Flyers occupied plenty of the spotlight this offseason. Philadelphia made a handful of blockbuster trades while also retaining several key in-house pieces with contract extensions. And also like the Hurricanes, some of Philly's moves were good, while others were head-scratchers.

Ellis is a star and will help stabilize a defensive unit that struggled last season. Moving on from Patrick only four years after drafting him second overall is disappointing for the organization, but Philly came away with the best player in the three-way trade that ultimately sent Patrick to Vegas.

The Ristolainen trade is where the Flyers' offseason vision becomes murky. The former Sabres blue-liner is one of the league's worst defenders by several metrics, and Philly gave up a first- and second-round pick to acquire one year of his services. Shipping Gostisbehere and two picks to Arizona for future considerations was another puzzling trade by Chuck Fletcher. Surely, he could have gotten something in return for a player of Gostisbehere's stature.

Fletcher does deserve credit for locking up Couturier and Farabee to long-term deals at fair prices. Hart's contract will provide strong value as well if the young netminder rediscovers his form.

Grade: C+

Pittsburgh Penguins

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Brock McGinn F 4 years $2.75M
Danton Heinen F 1 year $1.1M

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Jared McCann F Traded to TOR
Brandon Tanev F Expansion draft
Cody Ceci D Signed with EDM

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Zach Aston-Reese F 1 year $1.725M
Teddy Blueger F 2 years $2.2M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Filip Hallander F 2nd round (2018)
Pierre-Olivier Joseph D 1st round (2017 by ARI)

It was a quiet offseason in Pittsburgh, as the perennially cap-strapped Penguins had little financial flexibility to make any moves of significance. Losing McCann and Tanev hurts the Pens' depth, but Ron Hextall managed to scoop up some cheap replacements and remain cap compliant. Role players will be of the utmost importance early in 2021-22, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be sidelined to start the year.

Pittsburgh's biggest need heading into the summer was goaltending, as Tristan Jarry's dismal playoff performance sunk the club in the first round. There were lots of reliable netminding options available, but the Penguins stayed the course and hired a new goalie coach instead of signing someone new. How that decision pans out will likely determine the fate of the club's season.

Grade: C

Washington Capitals

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Key arrivals

Player Position Contract length AAV
Matt Irwin D 1 year $750K
Vitek Vanecek G 1 year $716K

Vanecek was re-acquired after being claimed by Seattle in the expansion draft.

Key departures

Player Position Transaction
Brenden Dillon D Traded to WPG
Zdeno Chara D Signed with NYI
Craig Anderson G Became UFA

Re-signed

Player Position Contract length AAV
Alex Ovechkin F 5 years $9.5M
Ilya Samsonov G 1 year $2M

Rookies who could crack the lineup

Player Position Drafted
Connor McMichael F 1st round (2019)
Alexander Alexeyev D 1st round (2018)

The Capitals were another team with a subdued offseason. Rumors swirled about the club potentially trading Evgeny Kuznetsov, but nothing materialized. A deal involving the Russian pivot could have awarded Washington some much-needed cap space, but the club ultimately allocated its dough toward Ovechkin's shiny extension. Hard to fault them for that.

Ovi's new deal, though expected, was one of the biggest stories of the offseason. Five more years of the captain in Washington means Wayne Gretzky's goal record is officially in danger, and with nothing else of theirs to grade, we commend the Capitals for providing the hockey world with the opportunity to witness history.

Grade: C+

(Salary source: Cap Friendly)

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NHL offseason grades: Metropolitan Division
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