And we wait…
It’s July 3rd and Matt Duchene is still a member of the Colorado Avalanche. I’m not going to get into whether Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is right for keeping Matt Duchene or wrong for not trading him. If you ask basically anyone on social media, Joe Sakic is the worst general manager in the history of pro sports. The minority say Sakic is right for not rushing into a bad deal. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, Duchene is still a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
So, where do we stand? It seems like we’re getting closer to a trade… well, that’s what it seems like. June 30 and July 1 many well known hockey reporters seemed to suggest that progress was being made on the Duchene trade front. Nothing much since then though. So who knows?
The last post I did on possible trading partners for Matt Duchene, there were six teams on the list. Three teams on that list aren’t on this one. It seems like the New York Islanders, the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators are no longer options. The Canadiens are practially 100% out on Duchene and have been since they traded Mikhail Sergachev. There has been zero talk this off-season about the Senators in regards to a Duchene trade. A dark horse maybe but doubtful. And many reporters have gathered that the Islanders have been out of the Duchene sweepstakes since the Draft.
There are still five (at least five) teams that are connected to Matt Duchene. Let’s take a look at what’s being said around the campfire.
The Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets were one of two teams that TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger mentioned having a deal on the table for Matt Duchene. That was on June 30. On July 1, Dreger tweeted that Blue Jackets were still trying to pry Duchene from the Avalanche.
Columbus Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline has confirmed the Jackets’ interest in Duchene. He first tweeted that 23 year old defenseman Ryan Murray would be the main piece heading to Colorado in a potential Duchene deal. On July 2nd, Portzline tweeted that he was told that the Avs asked for Gabriel Carlsson.
Carlsson was drafted in the 1st round, 29th overall in the 2015 Draft. He’s a 6’4 185 pound left shot defenseman who is only 20 years old. He spent most of last year playing in Sweden before coming over to play pro hockey in North America. He played in two regular season games for the Blue Jackets and five playoff games for them.
Who knows what a potential deal between the two would look like? The Avs also are said to want a 1st round pick and a prospect as well. Are the Jackets only wanting to trade Murray as part of the package where the Avs are wanting Carlsson instead? Is that the sticking point? Or are the Jackets/Avs also stuck on the prospect too where the Jackets want to give away a certain prospect but the Avs want a different one?
Very interesting. Follow Aaron Portzline on Twitter for updates.
The Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators was the other team that Darren Dreger said had an offer on the table for Matt Duchene. The Predators have had interest in Duchene for quite some time now so this isn’t a shock.
The hockey world almost blew up on July 1 when it was announced that Nashville and Colorado had made a trade. Ultimately, it was a false alarm as the trade was Colin Wilson to Colorado for a 4th round pick.
After the Predators signed Nick Bonino to a 4 year deal, many assumed that the Preds were out on Duchene. But according to many reporters such Adrian Dater, Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie, the Predators are still very much interested in Duchene.
Hockey Night In Canada studio host David Amber also believes that Nashville will find a way to get a Duchene deal done as both sides seem motivated to get something done.
It’s been said by many, including Predators GM David Poile, that the Preds have zero interest in moving any of their big four on defense (P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis). But things got a bit interesting when the Preds acquired Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights. The Preds already have many good bottom pairing defensemen already. Acquiring Emelin, who will hold a cap hit of nearly $3 million, is a bit suspicious. Is this a precursor to a Matt Duchene trade?
On July 1 before the free agency window officially opened, Elliotte Friedman tweeted that there was some talk that the Preds kicked tires on free agent defenseman Karl Alzner as a precursor to a bigger move. Friedman assumed that bigger move would be Matt Duchene. The Preds didn’t get Alzner but they did get Emelin.
The Avs need a left shot d-man. Subban and Ellis are right shot d-men, so they’re likely safe. Roman Josi is a left shot d-man but he isn’t going anywhere. That leaves Mattias Ekholm who so happens to be a left shot defenseman. Did the Preds acquire Emelin, a left shot d-man, to replace Ekholm in the Preds‘ top 4? Aren’t I a conspiracy theorist?
Ekholm just turned 27 so that’s older than the age bracket of 20-24 that Sakic is looking for. But he’s a left shot d-man and would automatically form the Avs top d-pairing with Erik Johnson (allowing Nikita Zadorov and Tyson Barrie to form their 2nd pairing).
Again, this is me speculating, but it makes a ton of sense for both teams.
If you’re Nashville, you could have Johansen-Duchene-Bonino-Sissons down the middle… or move Duchene to the wing, replacing the lost James Neal, and have Johansen-Jarnkrok-Bonino-Sissons down the middle. The Preds could have that kind of firepower and still have Subban, Josi and Ellis… yeah that’s a Stanley Cup waiting to happen in Nashville. And that’s also assuming the Preds would keep their top two defensive prospects in Sam Girard and Dante Fabbro too.
Makes a ton of sense. And everyone knows Duchene loves Nashville. A match made in heaven.
The Boston Bruins
One of two new teams to make the list – The Boston Bruins. The Bruins were heavily linked to the Avs at the trade deadline… but that was for Gabriel Landeskog not Matt Duchene. Well apparently they have some interest in Duchene now.
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch was one of the more prominent names to mention the Bruins as a possible suitor for Duchene. As with the Bruins-Landeskog speculation earlier in the year, defenseman Brandon Carlo has been the piece rumored to go back to Colorado in a potential deal.
Carlo is a 6’5 200 pound, 20 year old defenseman who just finished his rookie campaign, collecting 6 goals and 16 points in 82 games. But the thing with Carlo is that he’s a right shot d-man. The Avs already have Johnson and Barrie on the right side. The Avs need a top 4 d-man on the left side so Carlo isn’t a great fit for next season.
The rumors are out there. The Avs have been been asking for Carlo for awhile. Does this go anywhere?
The Pittsburgh Penguins
The other new team to the list – the two time defending Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have always been in the background in regards to Matt Duchene. But no one (excluding Penguin fans) ever really thought it was possible. They have elite forwards already. Do they need another good forward?
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned Pittsburgh as a low key, lurking in the shadows, team that might be able to get Duchene from Colorado.
What the Penguins have that could make the Avs blink is Olli Maata. Whatever you may think of Maata (he’s injury prone, his stats are declining), Maata is a left shot d-man with some size and is only 23 years old… with two Stanley Cup rings. A package containing Maata may entice the Avs. But the real question is, do the Avs like Maata? If the answer is no, then you can cross Pittsburgh off thes list. If the answer is yes, then the Penguins are in contention for Duchene.
The Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are the perfect trading partners. They have tons of young defensemen that would entice the Avs and they have a Matt Duchene sized hole in their lineup.
But both teams have stubborn managements. Out of all teams on this list, it seems like the Hurricanes are the long shots at this point. I’m not hearing a ton about the Hurricanes in connection to Matt Duchene trade rumors.
Personally, I think the fact that Matt Duchene only has two years left on his contract is one of the biggest reasons why Duchene isn’t a Hurricane right now. I think the Hurricanes are worried that Duchene will walk in two years. And they don’t want to give up young pieces for a guy who potentially won’t be on their team in two years.
I can’t say I disagree with that line of thinking. Especially since the Hurricanes have never really been huge destinations for big name players (Justin Williams excluded). Having a playoff drought as long as Carolina has had, it’s hard to convince big name players to stay or come to Carolina.
But still… Matt Duchene is a perfect fit for them. Just like Noah Hanifin would be a perfect fit for Colorado.