Devils addition of Timo Meier creating full-blown arms race with Rangers, Islanders

Devils Timo Meier
San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl (48) celebrates with right wing Timo Meier after scoring during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

There is a war brewing in the Metropolitan Division amongst the New York metropolitan area’s three hockey teams: The Rangers, Devils, and Islanders.

All three have made blockbuster deals in the past two weeks with the NHL trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. ET on Friday as they each make a push for the postseason.

The dramatic shift in the division has come as the Rangers and Devils traded for two of the biggest names available at the deadline in Vladimir Taresenko and Timo Meier, while the Isles made a splash of their own by acquiring a big-ticket in Bo Horvat.

And that’s without mentioning the fact that the Rangers still have another major trade in the works that involves bringing Patrick Kane to Broadway.

Rangers and Kane update
Patrick KaneWikimedia Commons

All of this has put the three Metro rivals on a potential collision course in the playoffs that hasn’t been seen since 1994 when the Rangers swept the Islanders and then knocked off the Devils in seven games on their way to a Stanley Cup title.

On the surface, the major trades seem to signal an arms race in the Metropolitan Division, at the very least between the three local teams. Devils fans were hungry for a deal to get done and had been chanting Meier’s name at Prudential Center in hopes it would reach the executive box to convince GM Tom Fitzgerald to trade for the talented winger.

Fitzgerald said late Sunday night that he had heard the chants, but hadn’t felt any pressure to make a deal to keep pace with the teams around New Jersey.

“I was just doing what I felt was best for the New Jersey Devils,” Fitzgerald said when asked about the impact all the trades have on the playoff race in the East. “Not reacting because of what the Rangers did or what they may do again, what the Islanders did. They do their business because of what their needs are. I’m not a reactionary general manager or person. Very thorough, and we try to think things out and really stick to a game plan.

“Then you may deviate here and there. But, you know, Timo Meier was the player that we’ve identified from the get-go for a couple of reasons.”

Bo Horvat Islanders
Bo Horvat (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Ask Rangers general manager Chris Drury or Islanders boss Lou Lamoriello, they’d utter a similar thought. Still, it’s hard to imagine that the three hockey execs haven’t looked at what the others have been up to and felt the need to bolster their own lineups.

The Devils, Islanders, and Rangers aren’t likely done yet — Fitzgerald was planning to meet with his staff on Monday — which means there still could be plenty of deadline excitement to come as they push for the playoffs.

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