The Nation Notebook: Colorado's futility, Kucherov's cheeky move, Ho-Sang, and Fleury

Christian Pagnani
March 06 2017 07:00AM

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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

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

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

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?

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.

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I like to read and write about sports. I'm @chrispagnani on Twitter.
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#1 GK1980
March 06 2017, 08:38AM
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Colorado is bad but as a fan of a franchise that's been losing for 10 years, ask if I care. Someone has to lose and finally it's not my Oilers.

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#2 FISTO Siltanen
March 06 2017, 10:35AM
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TrueBlue wrote:

I feel bad for Colorado since they're not actually trying to lose though.

Oilers weren't trying to lose. They came out of the '06 run and thought they were still legit.

Reloaded in '07 and barely missed.

Same in '09.

'10 the wheels fell off and stayed off till the Yak draft. They got him and Schultz and everyone, even Steve Simmons, thought they'd turned tbe corner.

They appeared to be heading north and then fell to hell.

Maybe three of those rebuild years they actually didn't care about winning. The rwst of the time they were just awful.

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#3 TrueBlue
March 06 2017, 09:14AM
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@GK1980

I feel bad for Colorado since they're not actually trying to lose though.

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#4 oddclod
March 06 2017, 07:35PM
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Ho Sang. Not his fault. Millennials rip everything off that's cool and conveniently legitimizes them as homages as opposed to lack of originality. Snow and Weight should have 'quashed this as a non starter just like teams honour their own unwritten / yet un-retired numbers.

Whether you agree, care or not, Frolik's homage to an idol was far more clever and original (his 67 to Jagr's 68).

Ho Sang = Fail.

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#5 Spydyr
March 06 2017, 09:37AM
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If you have a weak team and lose that is one thing. If you give up and lose that is entirely another thing.

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#6 Anton CP
March 06 2017, 11:14AM
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The recent Avs record may indicated that Roy was actually a better coach than peoples gave him credit for. Maybe due to his great coaching that hide some of the woes that Avs had for a long time.

Trade away both Stastny and O'Reilly with very little in return may have weaken the center position. Tyson Barrie was not a good d-man and without Erik Johnson for majority of the season that their entire defense was atrociously bad. Varlamov was clearly not healthy to start the season and it also looked like that he was trying to hide that fact. What happened to Avs was simply the 112 points season hurt them more than help them. Sakic refuses to accept the fact that Avs was never a contender and keep on making bad deals to seek for a quick fix.

Avs will keep on sucking for a long time since they have no defensive depth throughout their entire franchise. Sakic's management style reminds me a lot of Lowe. Their past prestige made them impatient and with some quick successes that they were unable to make a correct judgment of the overall team's strength and weakness then followed by trigger happy trades to drop anyone who may not shared the same vision as them.

Avs drafted a total of 17 d-man out of 46 picks since 2010 and those 17 d-man combined for a grand total of 32 (Chris Bigras played 31 of them) NHL games played. How bad is Sakic's scouting staffs? Excluding MacKinnon and Rantanen that a total of 36 (31 from Bigras, again) NHL games played out of 25 picks. I just can't see any bright future happening in Denver.

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#7 Mitch92
March 07 2017, 05:19AM
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The first time I saw the Kucherov move was Showdown 1977. Darryl Sittler pulled the move for a goal to everybody's delight. As for Josh Ho-Sang, who cares? This guy is this generation's Wilf Paiment. A player with more confidence than skill to back it up. He will probably retire a Maple Leaf.

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#8 Natejax97
March 06 2017, 11:45AM
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Colorado...the problem was drafting so high and taking best player available for the past 5 or 6 years, (except that one flash in the pan where they were firing on all cylinders).

When this happens, the best players available are usually forwards, skilled forwards, hence they now lack defensive depth, and forward balance and all of their cap money is tied to high skill forwards.

Stop me if this is starting to sound familiar...

The out for Colorado, sadly, is trading a good to great forward in order to address a weak defense, and the package coming back may very well be underwhelming at the time, but it is a necessity trade to balance the team. Then they will need to sign and trade for some grit.

MacKinnon is a franchise player, no doubt, and the team will be built around him moving forward. Look for Colorado to select Nolan Patrick, develop the 1-2 punch, keep Landeskog and Barrie, and start to add players that can support these guys better. Look for Duchene to be moved out for a solid Defenseman and probably some picks and prospects, but they will get a solid 1-2 D-man.

I feel for Colorado fans because they see all the skill in the world, but no bite to their game to compete in the trenches. We have been there for 10 years.

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