The Metropolitan Division is home to the last three Stanley Cup Champions. How do the Columbus Blue Jackets stack up heading into the 2018-2019 season?
The Columbus Blue Jackets were knocked out out of the playoffs, once again, by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions. This time, it was at the hands of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
Offseason changes on and off the ice will have a big effect on the Caps this year. The biggest change to the defending champ happened behind the bench.
Longtime coach Barry Trotz is no longer with the team. The strange and strained relationship between Trotz and management is now over and Trotz, the Jacket killer, is now on Long Island.
The Caps promoted top assistant coach Todd Reirden to lead the team in their title defense. Reirden was primarily responsible for working with the team’s defenseman over the last three seasons and is well liked in the locker room.
Columbus Blue Jackets
A coaching change for a team that won the Stanley Cup is a big deal. It hasn’t happened since 1992 and it will take Washington some time to fully acclimate.
The Capitals also signed former Columbus Blue Jackets bench boss Scott Arniel to join the staff as an assistant coach. Arniel came from another Metro Division rival, the New York Rangers, who fired Arniel in April.
The Caps roster moves in the offseason were not all that earth shattering and the team should look very familiar to fans next year. They did trade Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer to Colorado for a 2nd round pick at the draft. Orpik was then later re-signed by the Caps.
Grubauer is a bit of loss for the defending champs. He has been one of the best backup goalies in the NHL and has provided the Caps with a great option when they need to rest Braden Holtby.
The Caps have signed Phoenix Copley to a one year contract to back up Holtby. They also have a top rated goalie prospect, Ilya Samsonov, in the system. But the Caps will miss Grubauer’s .923 save percentage next season.
The most talked about player move was the insane contract the Caps gave to Tom Wilson. He certainly played an important role for the Caps, but a guy that is going to be suspended once a year for illegal hits and scores, on average, seven goals a year, is not worth over $5 million a year for six years. Needless to say, that contract will not age well.
On the whole, the Caps will still be a favorite, along with Pittsburgh, to win the division. As long as they have Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson and Ovi, they will be contenders. Braden Holtby shows no signs of slowing down and even with a coaching change, expect the Caps to give the Columbus Blue Jackets all they can handle and then some.
How do you think the Caps will fare this season? Let us know in the comments and stay tuned for Part III on the Metro Division featuring the New Jersey Devils.