New York RangersThe defending Metropolitan Division champions should be in the hunt for the top spot once again, but my feeling is that they may fall off just a little. This is a team that is getting a little long in the tooth, especially on defense. They lost a couple of veteran guys in Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin, and they will be looking at younger guys to try and pick up the slack. There is no doubt in my mind that the Rangers will make the playoffs again this season, but they need to start getting younger if they hope to contend for a Stanley Cup this year and beyond.
Columbus Blue JacketsThere is a very distinct possibility that 5 teams from the Metropolitan Division could make their way to the playoffs this year, and I would not be surprised to see the Columbus Blue Jackets in the mix. They were hit very hard by injury last season, which really threw a spanner in the works for them. Brandon Saad was a good pick-up who will add some depth to the bench for Columbus. This team can contend if young guys like Ryan Murray and Brandon Dubinsky can stay healthy and contribute. A potential dark horse in this division.
Philadelphia FlyersThe Flyers have a team that looks pretty good on the offensive side of things, with the likes of Claude Giroux and Steve Mason. The big problem for Philly is that they do not have players of similar quality on the defensive end of the ice. That is going to be a problem for them this season, and one that they are just not good enough to overcome. Unless they can bolster the blue line during the season, chances are that they will miss out on the playoffs.
New Jersey DevilsThe Devils are a team in the midst of a rebuilding project, but they still have a ways to go to be competitive. They are solid in goal and on defense, but they are lacking the required firepower on offense. The acquisition of Jiri Tlusty was a good one, and he may be able to help along a very young crop of forwards that are probably going to need at least one more season to fully develop.
Predicted Division Winner – NEW YORK ISLANDERS.