This week marks the beginning of NHL training camps, which means the start of the season is just around the corner.
The NHL is returning to its normal divisional formats this season which means the Pittsburgh Penguins are back in the Metropolitan Division with the usual rivals. With that in mind we wanted to take a quick look around the division and look at the top-15 forwards within the Metropolitan Division.
- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins. He is going to miss the first couple of weeks of the season but he is still the standard in the Metropolitan Division and still one of the top-two or three players in the world. Still an elite offensive player and a complete 200-foot player in every way. A legend of the game.
2. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers. Panarin is the rare free agent pickup that is probably going to be worth the money for almost his entire contract. He is one of the most dominant offensive players in the league and a complete game-changer every time he steps on the ice.
3. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are one of the best teams in the league and should be a Stanley Cup contender. Aho is the cornerstone piece the whole thing is built around. A possession-driving, point-per-game player.
4. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals. He can still score goals at an insane rate and is still the most dangerous power play player in the league. Like Crosby, a legend of the game still going strong.
5. Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders. Barzal is the one difference maker the Islanders have at forward, and when he is going at this best he should be considered one of the league’s must-see players for his speed and hands.
6. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers. He has been an elite defensive player from the moment he arrived in the NHL and over the past few years he has added elite offense to his resume. A magnificent player in every way.
7. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals. He is not underrated, so do not try to sell that narrative. Everybody knows he is great, and has been for some time. But he is a player that I think we will look back on and recognize his greatness far more after he retires than we did while he plays.
8. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins. Out of the big three of him, Crosby, and Ovechkin I think Malkin is probably starting to slow down the most, but he can still be a game-changing player when he is healthy. Still not sure when he will play this season.
9. Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers. He has always been a really good player but his game has gone to a completely different level the past three years. He and Panarin give the Rangers two dominant offensive players to compete with right now. Zibanejad is an unrestricted free agent after this season and should be in line for a massive payday.
10. Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins. It is easy to write off his production as being a product of playing next to Crosby, but he is an outstanding player in his own right. Great shot, smart, always knows where to be, and a sneaky good net-front presence.
11. Andrei Svechnikov, Carolina Hurricanes. He is already a great player for his age, but he is entering the phase of his career now where he should be ready to take a massive step forward and become an elite goal scorer in the division and the league.
12. Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets. Kind of a mystery at this point. He has been one of the best goal scorers in the league, he is still just now entering his prime years in the league, but his debut in Columbus a year ago was awful. Does getting away from John Tortorella and a fresh start to the season get him back on track? For Columbus’ sake it better.
13. Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils. Every time I watched Hughes play this past season he looked like a force that just needed some better talent around him. He took a huge leap from year one to year two and should be ready to take an equal leap this season going into his third season. Like 80-90 point leap.
14. Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina Hurricanes. It is still baffling how the Hurricanes got him as a throw-in for taking on the reminder of Bryan Bickell’s contract from Chicago. He is in his prime years, a point-per-game player when healthy, and an elite possession driver.
15. T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals. The Capitals are getting older and Oshie is at the top of that list, but he can still play at a high level and control the play at both ends of the ice.