In our Christmas Day series of NHL wish lists, this installment takes a look at some of the teams in the Metropolitan Division. The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers are right in the playoff mix, while Washington Capitals seem to have things well in hand. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Flyers have a lot of work to do to get back in the postseason hunt. The Flyers are not anywhere near where they’d like to be after offseason changes but the Penguins and Rangers have a shot, both teams likely looking to add before the deadline.
Rangers’ Christmas Wish List
Artemi Panarin is getting a much-needed break as the season pause and his injury come at the same time. It will give Panarin a chance to rest up and not miss actual games as the team’s leading scorer. For the Rangers, it will be important there are no setbacks and he’s ready to roll when play resumes. He was back skating with the team before things shut down, which is a good sign.
Beyond Panarin, the team does have some top-end scoring talent but could use more depth. Specifically, team president and general manager Chris Drury would like to add a top-nine caliber forward and has the cap space to add a rental. Drury has already acknowledged that he intends to add so a clear target would be nice.
Flyers’ Christmas Wish List
After a terrible 2020-21 season, 2021-22 hasn’t been a whole lot better for the Flyers. The team believed they’d moved some of the players who weren’t meshing and disrupting team chemistry. Still, the franchise hasn’t strung many wins together. They’re recently fired their coach in the hopes that Alain Vigneault was the problem.
If the Flyers intend to work their way back into the postseason conversation, they’ll need a few things. First, more offense, since the power-play goals and 5-on-5 scoring doesn’t seem to come easy. Since Mike Yeo took over as coach, the goals per game have increased but the Flyers could use a lot more of it. Second, the team’s best players need to get hot and stay hot. Too many inconsistent strings of little to no production among the team’s biggest names hasn’t helped matters.
Penguins’ Christmas Wish List
Evan Rodrigues has played well, but the Penguins sure could use Kaperi Kapanen and Jack Zucker to pick things up again. Kapanen is about as streaky as they come and Zucker might be a player that moves before the deadline the way things are going.
Perhaps the best thing for the Penguins is to know whether or not they should move Zucker and hope he plays well enough to garner interest from other teams. He’s too expensive to trade if he’s not playing well and if teams come calling, the Penguins can dump him and his bloated salary.
If the Penguins remain in the race, they’ll likely be looking for a right-handed defenseman and there could be a few teams with one available.
Beyond that, a healthy Evgeni Malkin would be a nice stocking stuffer for the franchise as he’s a big part of their offense and he’s not been accessible to this point.
Capitals’ Christmas Wish List
The Capitals are playing well and seem to have a playoff spot well in hand. With that in mind, Santa should be thinking about Alex Ovechkin and how to keep the goals coming. As the winger shoots for Wayne Gretzky’s record, 11-or-more goals would keep him on pace. Anything else is a huge plus and makes reaching the 894 mark easier to hit.
The older Ovechkin gets, the harder it will be to maintain the pace he needs. The best thing for him and his goal to reach the record is to get as many of those goals as early as possible.
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