March 16 — Ovechkin Takes the Podium & a Grand Father-Son Duo

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

GRETZKY, HOWE, AND OVIE: With his third-period goal on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders, Alex Ovechkin passed Jaromír Jágr, taking sole possession of third all-time in goals with 767. Notching his 36th goal on the season, Ovie now trails “Mr. Hockey” by 34 goals, which he should achieve next season.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER TRADE: The Colorado Avalanche will continue to be a team to watch until the March 21 trade deadline. First, they acquired Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks, and then yesterday received Nico Sturm from the Minnesota Wild. Fans are anxiously waiting to see if they go big and acquire Claude Giroux and if the pieces they recently received will be part of the package for Flyers’ captain. 

SEWING UP THE STARS: Yesterday, the Dallas Stars announced Anton Khudobin is out for the season after having arthroscopy and labral repair surgery on Monday. Khudobin will miss six months due to recovery, plus the Stars lost Ben Bishop in December to retirement and are without Braden Holtby due to a lower-body injury. 

JEAN POTVIN REMEMBERED: New York Islanders legend, Jean Potvin, passed away at 72. Potvin played 402 games over eight seasons for the Islanders, registering 46 goals and 167 assists for 213 points. He closed out his career by winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with his brother Denis, the first of four consecutive Cups for the Islanders. 

Like Father, Like Son

For the second time in the last week, a combination of family members has made history by playing in 1,000 games. Last night, Boston Bruins forward Nick Foligno played in his 1,000th NHL game, as the Bruins beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in Chicago.

Not only was it a milestone mark for Nick, but it was also a history-making achievement for the Foligno family. Nick and his dad, Mike Foligno, became the second father-son duo in NHL history to each play 1,000 games. The only other pair to do it is Bobby and Brett Hull. Here is how each duo got to the 1,000-game plateau.

Bobby and Brett Hull

Born in 1939, Bobby Hull began playing in the NHL with the Chicago Black Hawks in 1957. The left winger was a mainstay in Chicago for the next 15 years, never playing fewer than 61 games in a season and scoring at least 50 points in all but his rookie season, when he finished with 47 points.

While in the Windy City, he won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leader in points three times (1959-60, 1961-62, 1965-66), the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP twice (1964-65, 1965-66), and helped the Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 1960-61. Bobby retired in 1980 after 1,063 games in the NHL. He finished his career with 1,170 points, while his 610 goals rank 18th all-time.

Bobby’s son Brett was born in 1964, in the middle of Bobby’s prime. Six years after his father left the NHL, Brett entered the league. Picked in the sixth round of the 1984 NHL Draft by Calgary, the right winger only spent 57 games with the Flames before being traded to St. Louis in 1988.

Brett’s best years came with the Blues. In a decade with St. Louis, he scored more than 100 points in a single season four times and won the Hart Trophy in 1990-91. Though he never reached triple digits again, he continued being productive after leaving St. Louis, winning the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1998-99 and again with the Detroit Red Wings in 2001-02. Brett retired in 2005 after 1,269 games in the NHL. Though his father won more hardware than he did, he outperformed the elder Hull statistically, finishing with 1,391 points (24th most all-time) and 741 goals, which ranks fifth all-time.

Mike and Nick Foligno

Born in Sudbury, Ontario, in 1959, Mike Foligno was drafted third overall by the Detroit Red Wings in 1979. The right winger made an immediate impression, registering 71 points in 80 games his rookie season. He was traded to Buffalo in 1981 and spent almost a decade with the Sabres, during which he had six straight seasons with at least 70 games played and posted his best statistical season (1985-86, when he finished with 41 goals and 80 points).

Mike was traded to Toronto in 1991 and played in 129 total games with the Maple Leafs from 1991-1993. He was traded to Florida in the middle of the 1993-94 season and played his last 39 games with the Panthers before calling it a career. Overall, he played in 1,018 games in the NHL, finishing with 727 points and 2,047 penalty minutes.

Mike’s son Nick was born in 1987, during the best stretch of Mike’s career. Nick was drafted 28th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2006 and spent five seasons in Ottawa before heading to Columbus in 2012. He became a respected leader for the Blue Jackets, missing 15 games or fewer in all nine seasons and helping lead the team to its first postseason series victory in 2019.

Columbus traded Nick to Toronto in April 2020, and after finishing the season with the Maple Leafs, signed with the Boston Bruins. Through 43 games this season, Nick has two goals, nine assists, and 42 penalty minutes. Through 1,000 career games, the 34-year-old has 497 points and 811 penalty minutes. Nick’s younger brother Marcus also plays in the NHL. The current Minnesota Wild left winger was a fourth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2009 and has logged 658 games in the league, registering 241 points and 640 penalty minutes.

Wild Card Watch

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins: As we approach the trade deadline, the Boston Bruins have been steadily holding onto the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Although they have not dropped lower in the standings, they have not improved either. Boston is 8-1-1 in its last 10 and is currently on a three-game win streak. The Bruins will be an interesting team to watch for the next week as they could possibly move Jake DeBrusk and could try to strengthen their team for the postseason.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals beat the New York Islanders last night and are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games. Once again, the spotlight is on Alex Ovechkin and his accomplishments as he passed Jaromir Jágr for third in goals. Washington has 13 points more than the Columbus Blue Jackets and, for the time being, seem to be safe in the final Wild Card spot in the East.

Team to Watch: Toronto Maple Leafs

Western Conference

Minnesota Wild: The Minnesota Wild have slipped to the first Wild Card spot, switching places with the Nashville Predators. They only have three wins in their last 11 games and have a pretty demanding schedule remaining. Minnesota was involved in one trade yesterday, and while GM Bill Guerin said he is comfortable with the team he has, the Wild could tweak their lineup if the opportunity presents itself.

Vegas Golden Knights: Could it be that Vegas’ luck is running out? Things are not great right now for the Golden Knights. Last night, they suffered a 7-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets and are currently on a five-game losing streak. Goaltender Robin Lehner and winger Reilly Smith were placed on injured reserve, making the next few days extremely interesting for their general manager. Do they make a trade? If the organization expects to make another playoff appearance, something will need to give, especially with teams like the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks creeping up the standings. 

Team to Watch: Vancouver Canucks

Trade Deadline Primer: Metropolitan Division Wild Cards

Sometimes, the plans of organizations ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline go against the grain of their status as a playoff contender. At this point, barring a dramatic shift in fortunes, the Eastern Conference playoff field seems fairly established, with 13 points currently separating the holder of the second and final Wild Card spot (the Washington Capitals) and their closest pursuer (the Columbus Blue Jackets).

Of course, that’s not to say that GM Brian MacLellan and the Capitals will necessarily be looking for an upgrade, just as it doesn’t mean that the Blue Jackets and GM Jarmo Kekäläinen will be looking to sell. I mean, how boring would that be? Onto the Metropolitan wild cards!

Washington Capitals

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As mentioned above, there’s no NHL rule stating that a playoff team must be a deadline buyer. Washington, for one, may not have a path to adding talent right now. While the Caps could certainly use some help in net, they currently sit a mere $155,000 from the cap ceiling—and even that’s because they’ve used nearly $3.5 million in LTIR relief. MacLellan could always find a creative avenue to add on the cheap. However, the club already has $72 million earmarked for 16 players on next year’s cap, which means anything beyond an expiring contract is certainly not feasible.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Jarmo Kekäläinen, 2015 NHL Entry Draft

Most expect the Blue Jackets to punt on the 2021-22 season and, much like last season’s sell-off of Nick Foligno and David Savard, look to pry future assets for current veterans, with Max Domi and Joonas Korpisalo generating some buzz. But given Columbus’ available cap space and traditional status as a less desirable free agent destination, is it possible they look ahead to next year’s team and try to add players with term in exchange for expiring contracts? It could be a beneficial strategy and another way to get pending RFA Patrik Laine further on board.

New Jersey Devils

Tom Fitzgerald, general manager of the New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The New Jersey Devils are everything short of mathematically eliminated from postseason contention (sorry, Kristy). So, why might they be wild cards? That has everything to do with the philosophy of GM Tom Fitzgerald, who has traditionally resisted the limitations of the buyer/seller label. Selling off the likes of P.K. Subban is an option, but so is adding a player like Brock Boeser to the Dougie Hamilton-led core. This philosophy extends to key impact players like Damon Severson, who the Devils will keep unless bowled over by a generous offer.

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