With the 2019-20 NHL season almost here, let us continue our preview of the league’s Divisions to find out which teams will emerge on top at season’s end.

For this piece, we will take a look at the Metropolitan Division which looks to be as exciting as it was the last time out. The Washington Capitals edged out the upstart New York Islanders to win the Metropolitan Division by one point last season and this year, they are the favorites to win the division once again.

Here are the odds to win the 2019-20 NHL Metropolitan Division. These odds were taken from MyBookie.ag as of 9/30/19:

Team Odds
Washington Capitals +350
Pittsburgh Penguins +400
New York Islanders +500
Carolina Hurricanes +400
New Jersey Devils +500
Philadelphia Flyers +750
New York Rangers +1000
Columbus Blue Jackets +2000

“Hockey" Who are the Favorites?

The Washington Capitals were the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions. They made the playoffs last season but made an unceremonious first-round exit. However, since they will be returning the core of the team which made them successful in the last couple of seasons, they are seen as the NHL betting favorites to win the division this year. The combination of Oshie, Backstrom, and Ovechkin is one of the most exciting to watch in power plays. The Capitals are a dangerous team to play when you are shorthanded. Defensively, the defense lost Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen and will be led by John Carlson. Braden Holtby had a 2.82 GAA last season and he had an inconsistent year.

The Pittsburgh Penguins made headlines when they traded Phil Kessel for Alex Galchenyuk during the offseason. The latter has displayed the potential to be a key player on any team, regardless of which superstar he plays with- whether it’s Crosby or Malkin. What was already their waterloo saw injuries to Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin so one key to their success should be keeping their team healthy. Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith are a good pair in the net. Look for the Penguins to challenge Washington for the Metropolitan Division title this year.

The Carolina Hurricanes had a terrific playoff run last season before losing to the Boston Bruins in the Conference Finals. Up and coming superstars Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen lead the front end for the Hurricanes. They added some depth in the person of Ryan Dzingel from the Jackets and he should slide into their second line with Jordan Staal and Nino Niederreiter.  With 26 goals and 30 assists last season, he should figure in a significant role in Carolina. Peter Mrazek and James Reimer will be in charge of the net and their defense has some new pieces including Joel Edmundson from the Blues whom they got by trading Justin Faulk.

Robin Lehner had an outstanding 2018 season as he was among the finalists for the Vezina Trophy. With Lehner signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks last July, the New York Islanders could see their hopes of winning the Metropolitan Division dashed. Without Lehner, the Islanders will look to Sergei Varlamov and Thomas Greiss to deliver. Varlamov has always had the label of not being able to take his team to the next level while Griess may be due for a regression considering how well he played last year. Nick Leddy lost his partner Johnny Boychuck and that may mean losing a few extra points.

The New Jersey Devils may have the biggest expectations this season. The Devils picked up defensive man P.K. Subban from Nashville during the offseason who picked up 31 points last season despite missing some time with injury. The Devils also got their reward for “tanking” last season as they were able to get the top pick of the draft and select Jack Hughes of Michigan. Hughes should slide behind Nico Hischier, who was also the top pick of the draft in 2017. The Devils also have Taylor Hall and Wayne Simmons to help their youngsters in the front line. The prospect is exciting but it may take some time for this team to develop.

“Hockey" Who Wins?

The Washington Capitals are just two seasons removed from winning the Stanley Cup and no doubt are still in the conversation to win another one. Winning the Metropolitan Division should be their first goal and with Alexander Ovechkin just 40 goals shy of 700, he’s still a productive force for Washington. Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson should give Ovechkin enough support on offense to win this division. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Braden Holtby should have a better year since he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

With Pittsburgh’s key players starting to get old, the Washington Capitals are the team to beat in the Metropolitan Division. The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders will also provide them a challenge but I don’t think there is a team more talented and more cohesive than the Capitals this year. Prediction: Washington Capitals

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