New York Islanders
The Islanders finished the 2013-14 season with a total 79 points and a record of 37-37-11, good for 13th out of 14th in the Eastern Conference and dead last in the Metropolitan Division. It was a season of little highs but mostly lows for the Islanders who were coming off of a playoff berth in the season prior. While the season left much to be desired, the Islanders had one of if not the best off seasons this summer. In the draft they took Michael Dal Colle with the fifth overall pick and later in the first round took Josh Ho Sang with a picked acquired from Tampa Bay. Later round picks saw the drafting of goalie Illya Sorokin, who was taken with an eye towards the future allowing him to continue his development in the KHL before coming to North America. Free agency was the cherry on top for the team who looked to address certain areas, in particular the situation in goal. The first move was accomplished early on with the acquiring of the rights to Jaroslav Halak from St. Louis, later signed to a four year deal and then the signing of former Bruins back up goalie Chad Johnson to a two year deal. Finally creating a solid tandem in net. The splash move though was the acquisition of Mikhail Grabovski from the Capitals and Nikolai Kulemin from Toronto, bringing their pairing back together. In all the Islanders made the moves necessary to be competitive this season, they just now have to put it altogether on the ice. It is not out of the realm of possibility that they’ll be in the playoffs this season, especially as John Tavares will be back and this year will more prospect development as well.
This season will mark the beginning of the Barry Trotz era in Washington, as the Caps fired Adam Oates two weeks after the end of the regular season. General Manager George McPhee was also let go as his contract was not renewed with the club. With changes at the top, it begins a new era in Washington. Last season the Capitals can up short as they missed out on the second wild spot by just three points and third place in the Metropolitan Division by four points. For a good portion of the season, they had a playoff spot, but the collapse looked ever looming in the rear view mirror for the team, especially as the Flyers came surging up the standings following their dismal start to the season. What killed the Caps were a number things, from a flawed defense to an offensive attack that lacked bite. They were more or less listless for the second half of the season. Some of the moves that the team made in the off season was the interesting signing of Brooks Orpik to a five year contract and Matt Niskanen to a seven year contract to solve the defensive woes. How Trotz handles this season will be interesting as he’ll have to start where Oates left off.
New York Rangers
Coming into this season, the Rangers are reigning champs of the Eastern Conference and looking to get back to the Finals, this time for a much different result. This off season among the things that the Rangers needed to address are the power play, but also to prove that last season’s run was not just a right place in the right time run, but there’s more gusto as well. In the off season, the team was extremely active on the first day of free agency. Joining into the frenzy along with the rest of the league. They lost Benoit Pouliot to Edmonton, Anton Stralman and Brian Boyle to Tampa Bay, and were able to move on from Brad Richards as well. On the other side, they brought on Dan Boyle from the San Jose after the Islanders failed to sign him on even though they owned his rights. The other signing of note was Tanner Glass from Pittsburgh, who was signed to a three year contract. It should be interesting in the second year of the Vignault era, especially after last season’s run.
New Jersey Devils
Much like Washington, the Devils came up short last season as they fell short of the second wild card spot by a difference five points behind the Detroit Red Wings. They also finished six points behind the Flyers who took home third in the Metropolitan Division. The biggest issue for the Devils last season was staying healthy, and with the moves made this off season along with the continued development of the younger players. If they can have a healthy Elias back, that will be an added boost for a team that came close last season, but were missing a few major pieces. In the off season, Anton Volchenkov was bought out by the team. The additions that were made, was Mike Cammaleri from Calgary and Martin Havlat from San Jose. It should be interesting to see what New Jersey can put together this season.