Thanks to an infusion of rookies and the continued development of young players, the Flyers should be an improved team in 2017-18.
As we learned in the first of a two-part series last week, unfortunately, the bulk of the Metropolitan Division clubs are expected to be better, too.
In the second part of the series, here’s what the rest of the division has done this offseason, and how the moves will affect each team this season.
New York Islanders
Notable arrivals: Doug Weight (head coach); Jordan Eberle
Notable departures: Ryan Strome; Travis Hamonic; Mikhail Grabovski
The skinny: The most influential offseason decision for the Isles was to remove the interim tag in April on Weight, who took over for Jack Capuano in January and led a remarkable resurgence in the second half. He guided the Islanders to a 24-12-4 record and nearly catapulted the team from division doormat to a playoff spot in the second half. He will have a perennial 20-goal scorer in Eberle, who arrived from the Oilers for an under-performing Strome. Weight won’t have Hamonic, who was shipped to the Flames for draft picks and to open a spot on the crowded blue line.
Better or worse: Even.
New York Rangers
Arrivals: Ondrej Pavaelec; Kevin Shattenhirk, Anthony DeAngelo
Departures: Kevin Klein (retired); Derek Stepan; Antti Raanta; Dan Girardi; Oscar Lindbergh
The skinny: Even though Klein and Girardi won’t be performing on Broadway, Shattenkirk, the biggest free agent prize on the market, and DeAngelo shore up an air-tight defense in front of elite netminder Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers should have plenty of depth at forward to make up for the loss of Stepan, who was second on the team in assists. (38).
Better or worse: Better.
Arrivals: Antti Niemi; Mat Hunwick.
Departures: Nick Bonino; Trevor Daley; Chris Kunitz; Marc-Andre Fleury.
The skinny: Yeah, sure, the Pens took a hit with Bonino, Daley and Kunitz, as well as Fleury, taking their services elsewhere. Remember, though, they still have guys named Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Murray and are already early favorites to win a third straight Cup.
Better or worse: Even.
Departures: Shattenkirk; Marcus Johansson; Karl Alzner; Justin Williams; Nate Schmidt; Daniel Winnik.
The skinny: The Caps plan to replace half their defense and two of their top six forwards with in-house rookies or inexperience players. Even with an imposing top-half of the roster, led by Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the impact will surely be felt. The Caps aren’t going to disappear from the list of Cup contenders, but their days of winning President Trophies are over for the foreseeable future .
Better or worse: Worse.