The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article.
Colorado is really bad, Nikita Kucherov fools Robin Lehner, Ho-Sang can’t help but generate conversation around him, and Vegas might be eyeing Marc-André Fleury.
AVS IN FREEFALL
Last season’s Leafs finished last with 69 points. If the Avalanche win ALL 18 games they have left after this one they’d still only have 73.
— Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) March 5, 2017
The Colorado Avalanche are historically bad. They’re on pace to finish with roughly 48 points, which would be the worst total since the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999-2000 season. The Thrashers were an expansion team, though, so the Avalanche’s futility is especially impressive considering the talent they have. They’re trending to be worse than any Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes recent season, and those teams were blatantly tanking for Connor McDavid. The Edmonton Oilers have been irrelevant for a decade and even they surpassed 60 points in every full season. Colorado doesn’t seem like they should be this bad. A team with forwards like Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, and defencemen like Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie, should manage to be somewhat respectable.
The Avalanche will probably undergo a major re-tooling in the summer, and it’s not hard to imagine some significant names leaving Denver. Avalanche fans have endured a terrible season, but this should at least make for an interesting offseason.
KUCHEROV’S SHOOTOUT GOAL
WARNING: This dangle is simply DISGUSTING. pic.twitter.com/AVaB5COUvn
— NHL (@NHL) March 5, 2017
Nikita Kucherov’s shootout winner against Buffalo Saturday night was one of the more interesting moves, or lack thereof, seen in the shootout in quite some time. Kucherov fooled Robin Lehner, and according to Steven Stamkos, it wasn’t an accident either. The move was a little cheeky, but Kucherov gets credit for going through with it, and attempting it on one of the most intimidating goalies in the league.
HO-SANG AND #66
Are some people actually trying to make something out of Ho-Sang wearing #66? Good grief. Many have worn #9 and #4. Much ado about nothing.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) March 3, 2017
Josh Ho-Sang earned a call-up to the National Hockey League and apparently wearing the number 66 has people up in arms.
Ho-Sang is the sixth player in NHL history to wear the number, and explained he’s worn it since he was 15 as a honour to hockey great Mario Lemieux. 66 isn’t retired and rightfully so, making this a whole lot of nothing. There’s no league-wide retirement of the number like there is with Wayne Gretzky’s number 99, and I’d even argue that’s a bit extreme itself, so good on Ho-Sang for subverting the NHLs traditionalist mindset when so many players seem reluctant to.
VEGAS AND FLEURY?
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 5, 2017
The NHL trade deadline has passed, but Sportsnet’s Headlines segment gave some speculation on the Vegas Golden Knights and their interest in Marc-André Fleury as their goalie of the future. Nick Kypreos notes that Fleury is one of the best goalies available, and could potentially be the face of the Golden Knights franchise.
Fleury would be an interesting option. He’s signed for two more years at a reasonable $5.75-million cap hit, a Stanley Cup champion, and former #1 overall draft pick. The Penguins goalie has been able to make saves, with this season’s .908 being far from his average of the last few years. Fleury hadn’t had a season below a .910 save percentage since the 2009-10 season. While Fleury would be a veteran option for Vegas, there are many backup goaltenders that could provide younger, better, and cheaper goaltending. Neither Chicago nor Washington looks like they’ll be able to protect Philipp Grubauer or Scott Darling, and both have performed very well as backups. Jaroslav Halak is still an NHL-caliber goalie, but may not have the same fame as Fleury, but he’s destined to be exposed. There’s also other younger prospect options such as Malcom Subban or a free-agent like Ben Bishop.
Vegas’ interest in Fleury makes sense as a veteran option, but there will be a lot of younger, cheaper talent available that they need to consider.