September is here and what does that mean for hockey fans? It’s mysteriously getting cooler in our minds regardless of the temperatures outside. NHL players are wrapping up summer vacations and getting ready to report to their respective training camps. Every sports outlet has come out and made their NHL power ranking predictions and in many cases the Rangers look to at least repeat their success from last season.
How much value are preseason power rankings?
The answer to the above question is well, maybe some value but again these are merely predictions of how the upcoming season will play out. The New York Rangers had a very successful season and made it to the Eastern Conference finals and lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning who went on to lose the Stanley Cup to the Colorado Avalanche. If past performance is any indicator on future successes, the Rangers should be in good shape this season.
Metropolitan Division team review & preview:
New York Rangers 52-24-6 in 2022-23, 110 points, second place in Metro Division, lost in Eastern Conference finals to Tampa Bay Lightning.
Prediction: First Place, Eastern Conference finals
The Rangers should be on track to make the playoffs again this season and after signing forward Vincent Trocheck from the Carolina Hurricanes, along with the stellar Vezina Trophy performance of netminder Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers should look to this season as a chance to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Re-signing Kaapo Kakko and the return of Sammy Blais will add to the mix and the continued dominating performance by Chris Kreider point to another successful season this year – if everyone stays healthy. Trocheck will be reunited with his old head coach Gerard Gallant from their Panther days and it will be interesting to see how that relationship plays out this year.
Carolina Hurricanes 54-20-8, 116 points, first place in Metro Division, lost in second round of playoff to the Rangers
Prediction: Second Place, first or second round of playoffs
The Hurricanes are certainly looking to bounce back from their second round playoff loss at the hands of the Rangers and both times should do battle all season long for dominance in the Metro Division. The Hurricanes have goaltender concerns and that may be their Achilles heel in 2022-23. Look to see the Hurricanes back in the playoffs at least this year but how far they will go remains to be seen.
Pittsburgh Penguins 46-25-11, 103 points, third place in Metro Division, lost in first round of playoffs to the Rangers
Prediction: Third Place, first round of playoffs
The Penguins will hang around and probably make the playoffs again this year based on one name: Sidney Crosby. Need I say more? General manager Rod Hextall was able to sign multiple players to contract extensions and keep the front lines essentially intact. The Penguins need a surge this season to get over the first round hump and if they can, there’s no telling how far the Pens will go.
Washington Capitals 44-26-12, 100 points, fourth place in Metro Division, lost in first round of playoffs as wild card team against the Florida Panthers
Prediction: Fourth Place, first round of playoffs
The Caps picked up a huge trade in the off-season by signing former goalie Darcy Kuemper this summer after leading the Avs to the Stanley Cup. While this trade could pay immediate dividends, it’s a fact of reality that Alex Ovechkin is getting older and can’t be the daily go-to guy for the Capitals for much longer. If Ovechkin goes down with an injury, I expect the Caps fortunes will go down with him this season. If Ovechkin stays healthy, then Washington will at least sniff the playoffs again.
New York Islanders 37-35-10, 84 points, fifth place in the Metro Division, no playoff appearance in 2021-22 season
Prediction: Fifth Place, outside shot at wild card spot if team improves under new head coach
Gone is head coach Barry Trotz who led the Isles to two third-round playoff appearances but couldn’t bring the Islanders kicking and screaming into the postseason in 2021-22. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to do some quick figuring out to get defensemen on the ice and put some top-notch talent up front. The Islanders have one major figure who can play a key role in getting them back into the playoffs: netminder Ilya Sorokin. With top tier talent protecting the pipes, the Islanders have a fighting shot at getting back into the postseason.
Columbus Blue Jackets 37-38-7, 81 points, sixth place in Metro Division, no playoff appearance in 2021-22.
Prediction: Sixth Place
The Blue Jackets have a continual fight to keep talent in Columbus and for that reason alone they will probably miss the playoffs again this year. Sadly, sometimes it’s hard to remember that this team is in the Metro Division.
New Jersey Devils 27-46-9, 63 points, seventh place in Metro Division, no playoff appearance in 2021-22 season
Prediction: Seventh Place or change spots with Philadelphia Flyers
The Devils are sometimes their own worst opponents and a proud franchise seems to continually fall on hard times. The Devils did bring in goalie Vitak Vanacek and rotating along with Mackenzie Blackwood will keep fresh legs in protecting the net and at least keep the Devils competitive. The old saying “there’s always next year” keeps being used by Devils fans that it may start meaning “there’s always next decade.” Maybe the Devils can win a few more games and be in the hunt for a playoff spot. Then again, they may be out by Valentines Day.
Philadelphia Flyers 25-46-11, 61 points, eighth place in Metro Division, no playoff appearance in 2021-22
Prediction: Eighth Place or change spots with New Jersey Devils
GM Chuck Fletcher brought in new head coach John Tortorella to rebuild the Flyers and maybe be some sort of disciplined culture to the Flyers organization. We are a long, long way from the era of the Broad Street Bullies and right now the Flyers can use all the help they can get. I mean absolutely no disrespect on this storied franchise but they have skidded down a path that may take them years to recover from. Tortorella’s most realistic goal this season isn’t the playoffs but merely keeping the Flyers out of the Metro Division cellar and maybe moving up a place or two in the standings. That should be an attainable goal for this year.