The difference between the good and the bad in the Metropolitan Division last NHL betting season was huge, with a staggering 42 point difference between first and last at the end of the season. I expect things will be a whole lot tighter this year, as the lower lights have re-tooled in a way that could help close the gap. Let’s take a look at each of the teams in the Metropolitan, and what we might expect from them:
New York Islanders
After many years of underperforming, the Islander took a huge step towards respectability last season, and they look primed to be even better this season. This is a team that is incredibly balanced on offense and defense, and which has a player depth at every position that few other teams can match. The Islanders won an impressive 47 games last season, but I would not be surprised to see them hit an even bigger number this season. Definitely one of the favorites to win the division and go on a playoff run.
You would expect a team this talented to have more than a single Stanley Cup win under their belts in the past decade. The problem for the Penguins is that a good chunk of their cap money is invested in just 5 players, with the likes of Crosby and Malkin having very rich contracts. The addition of Phil Kessel to the line-up should help Crosby, assuming of course that he can stay healthy, which has been an issue for Sidney over the past couple of years. There are still question marks on defense, but this is a team that can score a lot to cover up those faults.
This is a team in transition, which is what they really need to be. They have shipped off a couple of aging fan favorites, and are trying to rebuild using younger, lower-priced talent. The Hurricanes have now missed the playoffs for 5 straight years, and while I expect them to be better this season, I do see that streak extending to 6.
The Capitals have a balanced line-up that is solid at both ends of the ice. That said, they do tend to rely a little too heavily on the goalscoring exploits of Alexander Ovechkin. The good news is that the addition of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams may well help take some of the pressure off the Russian. The Caps are solid in net, with Braden Holtby a legitimate star, and they have a genuine shot at winning the division. Top 3 seems like an absolute definite.