Snap Shots is three days late, but better late than never, as they say. I had a busy weekend selling at a sports memorabilia convention, then other things got in the way. Such is life. But I still wanted to chip in my two cents about what went on around the NHL over the past seven — make that 10 — days. Two players skated in their 1,000th games, and set some interesting records in the process. Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal scoring record got a little closer to being broken, and, of course, there was the NHL trade deadline.
Tons of Trades
NHL general managers lose their minds during the start of free agency and during the trade deadline, when they overpay (either in salary, or in players and/or assets) to acquire players that they think will help their teams. There were 18 trades made in the week leading up to the March 21 trade deadline, and then another 30 trades made on deadline day. That’s a lot of players who had to pack their bags. I’m not going to analyze every trade — ain’t got time for that — but you can see the full list of trades made here. However, I am going to give my thoughts on four of the more interesting trades.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, who could become the first team in 40 years to win three Stanley Cup Championships in a row, made a power move by acquiring LW Brandon Hagel from the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The rich get richer, as they say, and the Bolts have added more scoring depth in an already-stacked lineup.
The biggest-name forward available at the deadline was Claude Giroux, who the Florida Panthers picked up from the Philadelphia Flyers. The Panthers are currently tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been one of the best goalies in the league this season. If anyone could challenge the Bolts for the Cup, it’s the Panthers, and even more so now that they scored Giroux.
Meanwhile, the biggest goalie who’s name kept coming up in trade rumors was Marc-Andre Fleury, who was until Sunday a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury had a no-movement clause in his contract, and would not be traded by the Hawks unless Fleury requested one. The Flower ended up going to the Minnesota Wild, who are currently in third — by a hair — in the Central Division. This trade struck me as a bit odd, as there were better teams that could have benefitted from acquiring Fleury, such as the Maple Leafs or Oilers. But again, Fleury would have to approve the trade, so maybe he really likes the idea of wearing a forest green jersey.
The Bruins acquired defenseman Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks, then promptly signed him to an eight-year contract extension the next day. The Bruins are thinking short-term playoff push and long-term contention with this move. Lindholm will be on the Bruins’ top D pairing with Charlie McAvoy.
Ovechkin Now 3rd in All-Time Goals
Last Tuesday, Alexander Ovechkin scored his 767th-career goal, which put him one goal ahead of Jaromir Jagr and making him third-overall in career NHL goals. He has since scored three more goals for an even 770. Ovie is just 32 goals away from surpassing Gordie Howe, who scored 801 NHL goals and could reasonably surpass Mr. Hockey sometime next season.
But then there’s the big milestone: Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal scoring record of 894 regular season goals. About four years ago, Puck Junk columnist Blake Issacs suggested that Ovie could catch Gretzky to become the all-time leading goal scorer. Ovechkin needs just 125 more goals to break The Great One’s record. He scored 40 goals thus far this season, and with 20 games left in the regular season, could feasibly hit the 50-goal mark. That would mean that Ovechkin would need to score another 115 goals before he calls it a career. He is 36 years old and under contract with the Capitals for another four years. So, Ovechkin would need to score an average of 29 goals a season over the next four seasons to break Gretzky’s record.
At this point, it isn’t a matter of IF Ovechkin will break Gretzky’s all-time goal-scoring record, but WHEN. Barring a career-ending injury, Ovie is the kind of generational player who could play into his early-to-mid 40s, like Ron Francis or Steve Yzerman. Not only will Ovechkin break Gretzky’s record, but he might finish his career with over 1,000 goals.
Marc Staal Joins Brothers in 1,000-Game Club
When Detroit Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal played in his 1,000th regular season game on March 12, he set a record. He and his two brothers, Eric and Jordin, are the first trio of brothers in NHL history to each play in 1,000 NHL games. Eric Staal reached 1,000 games in March 2017, while Jordan Staal did so in April last season. Marc Staal is the 363rd player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game milestone.
Nick Foligno Joins Dad in 1,000-Game Club
On March 15, Nick Foligno of the Boston Bruins played in his 1,000th regular season game in the NHL, and became the 364th player to do so. His father, Mike Foligno, played in 1,018 regular season games from 1979 to 1994. Mike and Nick Foligno became only the second father-son pair to play 1,000 or more games each in the NHL. The first was Bobby Hull (1,063 games) and Brett Hull (1,269 games).
It’s crazy to think that with all of the sons of former NHL players who have also played in the league that this accomplishment has only happened twice, though Gordie and Mark Howe came close. Gordie played in a staggering 1,767 NHL games while Mark played just 929 games in the NHL, but 426 games in the World Hockey Association before that.
Anyway, the Bruins put an “A” on Foligno’s sweater to make him an assistant captain for his 1,000th game, which was played in Chicago against the Blackhawks. The Bruins will also honor Foligno with a pregame ceremony before their April 2 home game against Columbus.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■