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The Metropolitan Division has had three different winners since its inception in the 2013-2014 season: The New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and last year’s winner, the Washington Capitals. Despite Washington winning the division, it was the Pittsburgh Penguins that ended up taking the Stanley Cup, and they’re the +180 favourite to win the division as we head into the season.

 

The Favourite

Given that the Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions, they deserve to be in this spot. They deserve a lot of credit for firing Mike Johnston after 28 games and replacing him with the inexperienced Mike Sullivan, which was a gutsy move that paid off. Almost everyone is back to defend the title, and this team should be even stronger now that Sullivan has had a full season under his belt. Captain Sidney Crosby credited Sullivan for helping him surpass his struggling start to last season.

The Penguins’ offense should be stellar with centres Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and right wings Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist. Kris Letang leads the back line as long as he can stay healthy, which he’s managed to do over the last two seasons. And in net, the Pens enter the season with two starting-caliber goaltenders after Matt Murray’s emergence in last season’s playoffs.

 

The Best of the Rest

Next in line are the Washington Capitals (+195) who were second in both goals scored and allowed last season. They also ranked fifth on the power play and second on the penalty kill. They achieved milestones, won trophies, and were stellar in the regular season, but they still didn’t make the playoff journey their fans had been hoping for.

This was the best Washington team of the Alexander Ovechkin era, and the Capitals’ roster is returning intact. Led by Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals are hungry to win their first Stanley Cup. Goaltender Braden Holtby won the Vezina Trophy last year and returns as one of the best in the NHL. The Capitals rounded out their roster with the addition of centre Lars Eller and right wing Brett Connolly. They’re in as good of shape as anyone if they can find a way to succeed in the playoffs.

The New York Rangers’ (+600) last season ended with them losing in five to the Penguins in the playoffs. Three of those losses were by three goals or more. Netminder Henrik Lundqvist didn't play like the “King” in the postseason and at 34 years old, one has to wonder if his age is catching up to him.

The Rangers lost puck-moving defenseman Keith Yandle in free agency and traded away centre Derick Brassard, who led the team with 27 goals last season. They’ll need left wing Rick Nash to bounce back after scoring just 15 goals last season; he scored 42 the year before.

The New York Islanders (+700) and Philadelphia Flyers (+1200) are next if the Rangers falter. The Islanders get the edge here with centre John Tavares, who scored 33 goals last season. However, the team is undergoing a lot of changes. They lost right wing Kyle Okposo, centre Frans Nielsen and left wing Matt Martin, while bringing in left wings Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd and right wing PA Parenteau, along with Dennis Seidenberg on defense. The Flyers still have Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds up front, but like the Islanders, they have questions that need to be answered in goal.

The Metropolitan Division long shots include the Carolina Hurricanes (+1600), the New Jersey Devils (+1600) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (+2000).

 

*Odds as of October 5, 2016