The Nation Notebook: Setoguchi's comeback ends, Burns' historic season, and notes on the seller's market

Christian Pagnani
February 13 2017 07:00AM


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. 

The L.A. Kings have put to bed Devin Setoguchi's comeback, as he joins all of the major signings the team made last summer on the waiver wire. Brent Burns is on pace for the best season we've seen from a defenceman in a long time (don't tell Erik Karlsson). And a seller's market has massively upped the asking price for good-but-not-great players, making this deadline likely to be a slow one. 

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Does defence actually win championships?

Jeff Veillette
February 12 2017 01:06PM

Photo Credit: Charles Leclaire/USA TODAY SPORTS

Things have been stressful of late. The Toronto Maple Leafs have lost six of their last eight games, and while they're hanging onto a playoff spot, there's a lot of questioning as to whether that'll last. Unsurprisingly, the same topic that comes up during every losing streak has come up again; the defence.

The Leafs need to fix their defensive woes. They are bad defensively. They outscore their opponents, they outshoot them, and they're still 12th overall by points percentage despite this losing skid. But that isn't enough, and it won't be enough in the future. Because, they can score their brains out, but that doesn't win rings. As we all know, defence wins championships.

That's true everywhere. Hockey, soccer, football, basketball... tennis? It's a popular trope across the sporting world, presumably because that belief aligns favourably with the philosophy of work ethic, systematic buy in, and self-responsibility. The values the idea tries to instil are great, and ones I'd want my hockey team to carry into the battlefield.

But, is the actual defence part really that important to the end result, to the point where the Leafs need to re-envision their priorities? Are the best defensive teams the ones that are really coming out on top? How have recent champions won their trophies? Here's a look at what does, and doesn't unite them.

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How does Tkachuk's rookie season compare to Monahan, Gaudreau, and Bennett's?

Ari Yanover
February 12 2017 08:00AM

For the past four seasons, including this one, the Calgary Flames have had the chance to feature a prominent rookie in their lineup. Taken at sixth overall in 2013, Sean Monahan was the first draft pick of the rebuild, and he made the NHL right away. Johnny Gaudreau, having taken every challenge the NCAA could have possibly thrown at him, played his rookie year the season after. Sam Bennett followed up with his the next season.

This season, Matthew Tkachuk has been that rookie. Just like with the previous three, there were questions as to whether he'd be able to make the team full-time at all. Now, over 50 games through the season, we're seeing him be one of the Flames' most impactful players.

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It may not be Russell or Davidson. It could very well be both.

Jonathan Willis
February 10 2017 11:41AM


Given the choice between keeping Kris Russell and Brandon Davidson, the poll currently on our site suggests that readers of Oilers Nation would prefer the cheaper, younger Davidson.

That, though, may be a false choice. There is a strong argument that Edmonton should move out two defencemen, in which case both Russell and Davidson might find themselves on the chopping block.

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Looking at the upcoming Sam Bennett extension

christian tiberi
February 10 2017 11:00AM

The big drama of the previous offseason was how the Calgary Flames would re-sign Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. The entire saga was dragged out over the summer, and involved a lot of nervousness, ridiculous trade rumours, a Kanye West tweet, and a surprisingly cheap deal right at the eve of the season.

This year is Sam Bennett's year, and it should go smoother. With a projected $22.5M available this upcoming offseason, there's plenty of space to get a deal done. He also doesn't have two 60-point seasons under his belt, so he should come in significantly cheaper. At best, he could come 75% off.

The Flames have a few options when it comes to Bennett, but they also have a few things that should concern them. Let's take a look.

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