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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on which Metro Division team has had the worst off-season to date.
It has to be Columbus. They've followed up the best season in franchise history with the worst off-season imaginable.
The Blue Jackets lost three all-star caliber players in Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, and Sergei Bobrovsky, as well as competent scoring winger Ryan Dzingel, without getting a single asset back.
Making matters worse is they've done almost nothing to replace what those four brought to the table.
Gustav Nyquist will make up for *some* of the offense departing on the wing but there's still a lot more going out than coming in. The Jackets haven't added a center of any kind to help offset the loss of Duchene, and they didn't scoop up one of the solid goaltending options available in free agency.
Instead, they appear likely to go with prospect Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo. I think Merzlikins can play in the NHL but he's 25 and finished 5th in the NLA in save percentage so the ceiling probably isn't sky high. Meanwhile, Kopisalo ranks 66/67 in 5v5 save percentage over the last three seasons. This has real potential to be the worst goaltending tandem the league.
Barring a couple quality additions – one of which, ideally, in goal – I don't think the Blue Jackets can seriously contend for the playoffs in 2019-20. That's bad news for a team slated to pick just once in the first three rounds of next year's draft.
I could have picked the Flyers here considering their trades for older and declining defensemen Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen, but I will go with a team that decided not to make any big moves, and that is the Columbus Blue Jackets. They signed Gustav Nyquist, who I like as a player, but he is more of a complimentary piece on a second line. Other than that, they haven't added to their NHL roster despite losing Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, and Ryan Dzingel. They could have weathered the storm by losing Duchene and Dzingel since they were good before they got there, but their goaltending situation is very shaky now, and Panarin was easily their best forward.
They still have some players that I like, but now they are a playoff bubble team again because it's incredibly hard to replace the players they have lost. Jarmo Kekalainen went all in at the deadline and it didn't pay off at all.
Which Atlantic Division team has had the worst off-season?
Which Central Division team has had the best off-season?
Which Pacific Division team has had the best off-season?
Which Metro Division team has had the best off-season?
Which Atlantic Division team has had the best off-season?
On the Tyson Barrie / Nazem Kadri trade
On the Phil Kessel trade
On the Blackhawks / Penguins trade