Where Do the New Jersey Devils Stack Up in Metropolitan Division?

Mar 1, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7) during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7) during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14): Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /

5. New York Islanders

The Islanders are what they are. That is a middle-of-the-pack team that won’t threaten a deep playoff run or go for the Stanley Cup and won’t draft high enough ever to get to that plateau. They could make the playoffs, but being the definition of mediocre in sports doesn’t get much done. The defense is solid, the goaltending is great, and the forwards are mediocre after Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat, while good, aren’t on that superstar level.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets made some good moves and some awful ones after a dreadful season. They probably should be better than the Islanders and compete for the playoffs but won’t in the end. Johnny Hockey and Patrik Laine could have superstar seasons, Adam Fantilli was a great pick who could make the league right out of the gate, and their defense is going to be solid.

One thing will keep them down more than anything else. Mike Babcock was a baffling choice for coach after the Toronto disaster. He has what is now a deserved reputation around the league. If they played a strong defensive system with Zach Werenski, Ivan Provorov, Adam Boqvist, Erik Gudbranson, and Damon Severson, they would be a threat even with the lack of forward depth and mediocre goalie. However, when guys stop playing their hardest after the coach does what he is going to do or when he starts sitting skilled players for some replacement-level AHL players, this team will fail.

7. Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals still have many players that made them good for such a long time, but other than Alex Ovechkin they have fallen too far. Niklas Backstrom is injury-prone, Evgeny Kuznetsov had a rough season, and it is hard to tell if it was a bump in the road or if he is not the same player. The rest of the forward group is a lot of middle-of-the-road guys. On the back end, it is John Carlson and not a lot, while in the net, Darcy Kuemper is good but usually doesn’t play that many games. They can’t score like they used to, the back end is bad, and it is their time to fall down the standings for a while.

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8. Philadelphia Flyers

This team has dead last in the division written all over them and will be competing for the coveted first-overall pick at the end of the season. Coach John Tortorella will be great to watch with his lack of filter, but it will probably be rough on some of his players who might check out mid-season when the Flyers are already out of contention. Outside of Travis Konekny, we have no idea who will score on this team. They have two fine defensemen in Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen, who will be the most overworked pairing in the league. In net, they have Cal Petersen, a sub .900 goalie two years straight, and Carter Hart, who is probably better than his numbers say but good luck to him behind this team again.