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

Updated: January 11, 2018 at 12:52 am by Christian Pagnani

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. 

Brent Burns’ historic season continues 

Brent Burns is on pace to become the ninth defensemen in NHL history to score 30 goals in a season. The mammoth blue liner has been on a incredible run since being traded to San Jose back in 2011 in a deal involving Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle. Burns’ points per game has increased every season in San Jose earning him a huge eight-year extension this fall. Burns’ last few years has him in elite company and he hasn’t slowed down with only two points separating him from Connor McDavid and the scoring lead, although McDavid has played one less game.

Barring injury, Burns will be the first defensemen to score 30 goals since Mike Green in the 2008-09 season. Burns brings an unparalleled threat from the blue line, as the next closest defensemen, Shea Weber, is 11 goals back of Burns’ 24. Scoring 20 goals as a defensemen is already incredibly difficult. Its only been done 11 times since 2010 and six defensemen share that honour, but Burns is set to smash that while also leading the NHL in shots.

The Kings’ 2016 offseason has been placed on waivers

The Los Angeles Kings signed their most important free agent, Anze Kopitar, well before the the beginning of the offseason, but after that, their other additions haven’t come close to making an impact. With Devin Setoguchi on waivers Sunday, he’ll join the majority of their off-season moves and be assigned to the minors. 

Tom Gilbert and Teddy Purcell were some low-risk moves, and everyone was cheering for Setoguchi to make a successful comeback, but these moves seem like a far cry from the ones that a team with Stanley Cup aspirations should be making. The Kings aren’t exactly blessed with a ton of cap space, especially with boat anchor contracts from Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, and some high profile players needing contracts soon. Tyler Toffoli is a restricted free-agent after this season and Kings general manager Dean Lombardi is probably factoring what he has to pay Drew Doughty in two seasons as well.

The Kings already have $10 million dedicated to one player, but every team has to deal with the same salary cap. Chicago has routinely added substantial players while dancing along the salary cap and Pittsburgh manages to pay multiple star players and still find players like Justin

Schultz and Conor Sheary to compliment them. The Kings haven’t won a playoff series in three years which makes this lack of meaningful additions even stranger.

High prices because of a seller’s market

On Saturday’s Headlines segment, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos spoke on the availability of Tampa Bay Lightning centre Brian Boyle and the high prices 18 days away from the trade deadline. Kypreos said he’s been told that the prices are steep, and that the ask for a Brian Boyle could be as high as a first-round pick. 

Brian Boyle is an interesting player that Tampa Bay could cash in if they recognize their playoff uncertainty. Their playoff hopes seem unlikely, but not impossible, but Boyle seems like a logical fit for numerous teams with his ability to play centre and log minutes on the penalty kill. Boyle’s 13 goals and seven assists are also respectable for a top-nine player, but a high draft pick would represent a coup for Steve Yzerman. 

Overpayments always occur. Paul Gaustad once returned a first-round pick and Roman Polak somehow netted two second-round picks just last season. Boyle’s a solid player. but not one that will push a team over the top. If Boyle has this kind of value it might reflect a potential sellers market to be had this deadline.

Another team in the mix for Duchene? 

The Colorado Avalanche seem very willing to part with one of Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene, and the Carolina Hurricanes seem like an obvious fit with their abundance of defensemen and lack of punch up front. The Hurricanes really only have one defensemen they have to worry about protecting regarding expansion in Justin Faulk, which only makes the rest of their defence even more valuable. Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater is close to the Avalanche organization and notes that an Avalanche scout was there to watch the Canes, perhaps even Justin Faulk.

In his Sunday rumours column, the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch makes a similar connection between Colorado and Carolina. Carolina could certainly use the help up front and their wealth of defence prospects make the two teams a logical fit. Either Landeskog or Duchene could provide scoring help, but Duchene only has two years left on his contract after this season. Any deal with Carolina likely involves giving away more years of control compared to the Colorado forwards, so it’s hard to see them giving up the haul that Avalanche general manger Joe Sakic is requesting. Although, if Colorado wants a good, young expansion-exempt defenceman, Carolina is the team to call.

Duchene for Faulk, as mentioned in the Dater tweet above, would be yet another example to go along with the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson deal last summer that suggests how highly impact defencemen are valued around the league.