NHL Mid-Season Grades: Metropolitan Division Breakdown

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NHL Mid-Season Grades: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators
NHL Mid-Season Grades: Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators /

NHL Mid-Season Grades, Surprises, Letdowns, Future Outlook: Complete Central Division Breakdown by Team and Position, Including Predictions for the Remainder of 2016-17

Today we’ll be handing out NHL mid-season grades for the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division which includes the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Washington Capitals.

The division is considered the strongest in the NHL to this point featuring the league-leading Blue Jackets and Capitals who come in with 64 points. The Penguins occupy the third seed in the division with 61 points and the Rangers have the top wild card spot with 57 points.

Philadelphia (50 points), Carolina (49 points) and New Jersey (47 points) are within the final wild card spot currently held by the Ottawa Senators (50 points in 42 games). The Islanders find themselves at the bottom of the division and conference with 42 points.

*Standings heading into Thursday night

Take a look at our Central and Pacific Division mid-season grades.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes
NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes /


Current Record: 21-16-7 (49 points)

The Carolina Hurricanes got off to a rough start, going 2-4-2 in the opening month of the season, but head coach Bill Peters was able to get the group back on track. A score-by-committee team has played their way into the playoff race, while riding a potential career-year from Jeff Skinner.


The Hurricanes are a middle-of-the-pack team in scoring with 120 goals so far this season, and they owe it to the entire group.

Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask are the only players scoring at above average marks and have established themselves as the leaders up front.

Teuvo Tervainen, Sebastien Aho, Lee Stempniak and Elias Lindholm have provided the team was a solid core of secondary scorers, which is needed in a score-by-committee team.

Youngster Brock McGinn and late bloomer Derek Ryan have really helped the team along with their surprising performances.

Add in Jordan Staal‘s steady two-way play and you have a recipe for team success.


NHL: Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes
NHL: Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes /

The “D” core gets the same grade as the forwards. Good, but not spectacular.

Justin Faulk has not had the greatest season, but he has still shouldered the load in minutes played on a very young group.

Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, and Noah Hanifin are all under the age of 22 and are playing in the top four. That’s incredible. This group will be one to keep an eye on for some time.


Cam Ward has been good enough this year, and that’s an improvement on last season.

While Eddie Lack has either been ineffective or injured, Ward has had to shoulder the load that he has been shouldering for over a decade.

He is capable, but if the Hurricanes had a better puck stopper, they could be a team in a keen playoff spot.


How many of you had to google this guy’s name?

Derek Ryan is a journeyman hockey player and at age 29, he is finally becoming an NHL regular. Ryan is a former University of Alberta player, turned Austrian league superstar, turned SHL superstar, turned AHL star, turned NHL player.

He has eight goals and 18 points in only 31 games and he is an inspiration for anybody who feels they have lost their chance to be an NHLer.


When the Hurricanes selected Ryan Murphy with their first round pick (12th overall) in 2011, they hoped he would become the power play quarterback they had been waiting for.

Now in his fifth professional season with the club, Murphy finds himself sitting in the press box, in trade rumors and on the outside looking in. He is a defensive liability and the offense hasn’t been there enough to hide his deficiencies. Time to move on, even if it means he is claimed on waivers for nothing.


The Carolina Hurricanes are a really well-coached team, and that has allowed them to fly under the radar.

They don’t blow anybody away on paper, and many believe they are just overachieving. This team plays too well together, and Elliotte Friedman wrote about them in his 30 thoughts, saying “Good line on the Hurricanes from another coach: “If there was an advanced stat for percentage of times a player is exactly where he’s supposed to be, they’d lead. Smart team.””

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Hurricanes add insurance between the pipes and make the playoffs.