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Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: As the Trade Deadline Nears, Teams’ Plans Solidify

The top four of the Metropolitan Division are largely locked in. Teams now know what they need to do at this month’s trade deadline.

NHL: Seattle Kraken at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carolina Hurricanes: 83 Points (29-13-5)

With the Carolina Hurricanes’ win over the Seattle Kraken on Sunday, the Canes now have an 11-game home point streak. More importantly, the Canes now have a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games, completely turning around from the 1-2-2 record they started the month of February with. They were also able to come away with a 2-1-0 record where they had three games in four days with a dud to start the busy span.

The Canes have also been able to do this with slowing production from some of the regulars in Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas, as well as being without top-scoring defenseman Tony DeAngelo. Previously, Carolina has been stymied by the lack of secondary scoring in the playoffs and has become a huge point of emphasis from fans and the front office. While other players have struggled to score recently, Jordan Staal has been able to burst through his scoring slump and now has five goals in his last eight games and 10 total points in his last 13 games.

With Necas getting his first goal in 18 games, he may have gotten the monkey off his back and could see the net get bigger in the coming games. Now the Canes will hope to get Seth Jarvis going again, as the rookie hasn’t scored a goal since Jan. 21. However, when other players are scoring the greater pressure to perform is lower, but his lack of production has seen his TOI fall from 15:00 per game to 10:00 per game in the last three weeks.

2. New York Rangers: 77 Points (36-16-5)

The New York Rangers lost 5-2 against the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night with Alexandar Georgiev in net. Georgiev now has a record of 7-8-2, which means half of the Rangers regulations losses have come with Georgiev in net. Coming into the season the Rangers looked at Georgiev as a key trade piece for the team at the deadline as a pending restricted free agent. This year has been the worst of his career and has only hurt his trade value. Now the Rangers are trying to posture for a long run to the playoffs and may not have a solid backup in net.

It’s important to remember that goalies are a lot like ace pitchers in the MLB. They are headcases that need to be in rhythm and certain types of goalies prefer different setups. Trust me, my brother is a goalie who struggles in any game where he doesn’t see 50 shots against (they’re insane). Prior to this year when Georgiev saw significant time in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, he was above .900 as a goalie and saw two of his best seasons when he played more than 30 games in 2018-19 and 2019-20. It begs to differ that he may be a better starter than a backup, however, the Rangers will not get starter value from him after a sub .900 save percentage this season.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: 77 Points (35-15-9)

Brock McGinn played his 400th NHL game Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers. He also received a great welcome home against the Canes Friday. McGinn has quickly evolved into a fan favorite again in Pittsburgh which included a breakaway goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning. While Cane fans may miss McGinn, he still only has 17 points this season in 55 games played. This was always an issue for the Canes, they always needed someone who can produce at a higher rate. While not everyone will block shots, it's easier to replace someone who can, and it's harder to find goals.

With the Penguins’ back-to-back losses, they now sit behind the New York Rangers for third place in the division. In their last eight games, they have a record of just 3-4-1 and their next two games come against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Carolina Hurricanes. Both the Rangers and the Penguins have played more games than the Canes and sit six points behind Carolina. The main battle will come down to who is second and who is third in the Metro with the Rangers for home ice in the first round.

4. Washington Capitals: 71 Points (31-18-9)

Two weeks ago, the Washington Capitals lost forward Carl Hagelin to a significant eye injury at the end of practice. He underwent successful surgery last week and is now listed out indefinitely and has been added to LTIR. There is a larger concern for Hagelin that goes beyond his ability to return to the ice. The Caps now also lost Joe Snively for four-to-six weeks from wrist surgery and has been placed on injured reserve. Snively has only played 12 games this season but has four goals and three assists this season.

The losses have been mitigated by the return of Anthony Mantha who has is playing on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. The Caps will have to re-work their top penalty kill unit. Hagelin logged the second most time of Caps forwards with 1:54 while down a man. Their PK is currently ranked 12th with an 80.9% success rate. If the bottom six and the PK is now the main area of focus for the front office heading into the trade deadline. They may have to bolster those groups while fighting for playoff seeding.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 59 Points (28-25-3)

Patrik Laine’s point streak ended two weeks ago at 11 games which included eight multi-point games. That streak lasted almost a month from late January to late February and included 13 goals and eight assists. Now since the start of March, he has started yet another point streak with points in his last four games and three goals in four games. After a relatively slow start, he now has 22 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.

Monday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs saw the return of defenseman Jake Bean. Bean missed 14 games with a groin injury that he sustained on Jan 30. Head Coach Brad Larsen eased him back in the lineup in the third pairing but did play 12:42 in ice-time. Before he was injured, Bean was playing on the top pairing with Zach Werenski. Bean should move back up through the lineup as he settles back in. Columbus is still without defenseman Adam Boqvist who was placed on injured reserve last weekend with an upper-body injury.

6. New York Islanders: 50 Points (21-24-8)

The New York Islanders lost both Mathew Barzal and Zdeno Chara to injuries against the Los Angeles Kings in late February and neither has returned to play. The Islanders do not have a timetable for Barzal to recover from the lower-body injury. Barzal is the leading point scorer and third-highest goal scorer on the team which has led the Isles fall to a 2-3-0 record in their five games without him. This may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the Isles playoff hopes that sit at just 2% according to the Athletic with them only able to realistically catch the Caps.

The season has been tough for the Isles both on and off the ice as they had to deal with multiple COVID stoppages, starting the season with a 13-game road trip. GM Lou Lamoriello is in a tough spot where he doesn’t want to overreact to a bad season with tons of adversity and sell low on players. However, the Islanders are also the oldest team in the NHL with an average age of 29.29. They could be at the end of their window and look to force an accelerated rebuild by selling while they still have assets in the organization.

7. New Jersey Devils: 47 Points (21-31-5)

General Manager Tom Fitzgerald told Pierre LeBrun that the New Jersey Devils will not re-sign defenseman P.K. Subban. New Jersey has plenty of cap space heading into the deadline and will be able to retain 50% of Subban’s $9 million contract to help facilitate a deal and bring back more assets. Since he is the only big asset they have at the deadline anything they get for him has increased importance. He is just one of two veterans on the Devils that are pending unrestricted free agents, the other being Jimmy Vesey. They don’t have a ton of opportunities to stock up.

The Devils celebrated Gender Equality Night Tuesday night in their game against the Colorado Avalanche. This game features the first all-woman digital broadcast team. The broadcast team featured Kelly Schultz on play-by-play and Erica Ayala with commentary. Schultz has also served as the women’s play-by-play radio voice for 15 years at Bemidji State University. It’s great to see additional opportunities for women in hockey, and hopefully, more teams follow suit.

8. Philadelphia Flyers: 46 Points (18-28-10)

Elliotte Friedman reported that the Flyers and Rasmus Ristolainen were having extension talks and expected that an offer of 6 years with a 4-4.75 million AAV. The Flyers are now in a tough spot. They have been pushing to re-sign the defenseman that they traded a first-round pick, a second-round pick, and an NHL player for. He has continued to put up some of the worst underlying numbers in the NHL at a below replacement level.

If they try to shop him at the deadline, they are sure to get pennies on the dollar for what they gave up acquiring him. However, the other options of letting him walk for free or re-signing him to a long-term deal around the same cap hit aren’t much better. This just reinforces how head-scratching the move was at the time it was made this summer.