It was simpler times. It felt like a perfect marriage.
There was nothing but smiles, joy and happiness when the Colorado Avalanche drafted the speedy centerman 3rd overall in the 2009 Entry Level Draft marking the start of a rebuild in Denver. Growing up as a diehard Avalanche fan and worshiping the organization’s greats like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, Matt Duchene was suppose to lead the charge of a second wave of excellence in Colorado.
It almost feels like yesterday when Matt Duchene tweeted after the 2013 season that he was looking forward to bringing a Stanley Cup back to Colorado. How he wanted nothing more than to be part of the Avs for the rest of his career.
Now… honestly, it feels like that was eons ago.
Matt Duchene‘s name has been firmly planted in trade speculation since November 2015. It seemed like he was on his way out of Denver last summer until the Avs decided to give the team’s core another shot. And then…
Well, the Avalanche finished in dead last by miles and found themselves making history as the worst team in the salary cap era, finishing with a measly 48 points. And throughout the tumultuous, embarrassing season, trade chatters involving Duchene only grew louder.
All the losing and the unknown of whether he was going to be traded by the team he grew up idolizing, who he had given 8 seasons of his life to, started to weigh on Duchene. It culminated in statistically his second worse output of his career, scoring only 18 goals and 41 points in 77 games. In the final 35 games of the season, Duchene only managed to score 2 goals and 12 points.
As the season started to inch to a close, Duchene was asked many times whether or not he wanted to stay. His response? Truncated, Duchene would be opened to a trade (but would be happy if he stayed put although it surely doesn’t feel that way).
The kid from Haliburton, Ontario who dreamed of playing for the Colorado Avalanche no longer seems to care whether he stays or not. All of the losing and lack of success combined with constantly hearing his name in trade speculation has gotten to Matt Duchene. Both the Colorado Avalanche and Matt Duchene need a fresh start. It’s only a matter of time before the proverbial divorce papers are signed. It’s a real shame as Matt Duchene felt like an Avalanche lifer.
Top notch insiders such as Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger of TSN have gone on record and saying that they both think that Duchene is likely traded (they said the same thing last summer too but it seems almost certain this time around).
Joe Sakic has been rumored to want a young defenseman (20-24 years of age) with NHL experience, a top prospect and a 1st round pick in exchange for Matt Duchene. The question is can the Avs even get that kind of return especially since Duchene‘s trade value isn’t at the highest as previous years? Are the Avs willing to budge on that? Will any team pay that kind of price? If no one does, will the Avs keep Duchene or sell him to the highest bidder regardless? Going to be interesting with the Draft just days away.
Let’s take a look at the 6 (best) possible destinations for Matt Duchene.
The New York Islanders
Longtime TSN broadcaster Gord Miller tweeted a week ago that he heard that the New York Islanders were the front runners to land Matt Duchene.
Not surprising if true. The Islanders were in the mix to acquire Duchene at the trade deadline. From an Islanders perspective, adding Matt Duchene makes a ton of sense. Their superstar captain John Tavares’ contract expires next summer. The Islanders have gone back and forth from making the playoffs to missing them the past several years. In order to sway Tavares from testing the free agent market next summer, the Islanders have to make some moves to bring in help to show Tavares they are serious about winning. Duchene and Tavares are also good friends. You want to make Tavares happy, acquiring a highly skilled forward who he’s friends with seems like a good idea.
What would a potential trade look like?
The Islanders don’t have any real young stud defenders with NHL experience. They do have a couple of 26-27 year old d-men that they would be willing to part with in Calvin De Haan and Travis Hamonic.
What the Islanders do have that could tempt the Avs to unload Duchene is the 15th overall selection in this year’s draft and a top forward prospect in Matthew Barzal.
Would the Islanders have any interest in unloading Barzal, a 1st round pick and one of De Haan/Hamonic? Considering the situation they are currently in, it seems possible. Would the Avs take the trade? Depending on what other offers they get, it seems like a decent enough of a trade. Although they don’t get a young stud d-man in this potential deal, they get a fairly young d-man who can play in their top 4, a top prospect, and another 1st round pick.
It seems like the Islanders have the assets to pull off such a deal. It’s very possible.
In a perfect world, the trade would be: Calvin De Haan, Matthew Barzal and the 15th overall pick in the 2017 Entry Draft for Matt Duchene.
**RUMOR** Islanders‘ Ryan Strome has popped up in a potential Matt Duchene trade.
***NOTE*** It appears the Islanders will be trading the 15th overall pick to the Golden Knights.
The Carolina Hurricanes
There’s probably no better trading partners than the Carolina Hurricanes in regards to a potential Matt Duchene trade. Not only do the Hurricanes have a plethora of young d-men that the Avs would want but the Hurricanes are a team that is in need of a skilled centerman like Matt Duchene.
The problem here is maybe they are too perfect of a fit. The Hurricanes, especially in recent history, have never been a team known to make a blockbuster trade but instead try to build from within.
Another issue that comes up is that Matt Duchene only has 2 years left on his contract before he becomes an UFA. The Hurricanes have never been able to attract big ticketed free agents so maybe they’re worried that if they do acquire Duchene that he’ll walk from them in 2 years. It’s definitely something to consider.
But if the Hurricanes do want Duchene, they have many defensemen they could offer up. Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin or even Brett Pesce would be the guys that the Avs would really want as a center piece for a Duchene trade. The Hurricanes would probably want to trade the Avs Justin Faulk or Haydn Fleury in a possible trade. The Hurricanes also have prospect Jake Bean as a potential trade piece.
If the Avs were to acquire Hanifin or Slavin, it would most likely be a 1 for 1 trade… maybe the Avs could get a mid round pick out of it as well. But the Avs won’t be getting a 1st round pick and a top prospect along with it. If Pesce were to come back to Colorado it would be likely the Avs could get a 1st round pick in this year’s draft and maybe a prospect along with it.
Perfect trading partners. Both teams have the other’s need. But can they get something done with one another? It remains to be seen.
The Montreal Canadiens
They would have been ideal trading partners as the Montreal Canadiens had blue chip defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev who the Avs badly wanted at last year’s draft. But on June 15, the Canadiens traded Sergachev along with a conditional 2nd round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for high flying Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 6th round pick.
The piece the Avs would have wanted most of all would have been Sergachev. Now that Sergachev is gone, the likelihood of Duchene being dealt to Montreal lessens.
However, Montreal still needs a centerman. They don’t see Alex Galchenyuk as a center and rumors are swirling that the Habs are tying to deal him. Is it possible the Avs and the Canadiens would consider a scenario where Duchene heads to Montreal for Galcheyuk, the 25th overall pick in this year’s draft, and d-man prospect Noah Juulsen.
The question is, would Montreal even consider trading that kind of package for Duchene? And if they would consider that, would that interest the Avalanche? I’m not sure either way but it sounds like the Habs want multiple pieces for Galchenyuk so this deal seems highly unlikely.
Wouldn’t say it’s unlikely or not going to happen but Montreal as a trading partner took a hit when Mikhail Sergachev was dealt to Tampa.
The Columbus Blue Jackets
Considering they traded their #1 center a year and a half ago in Ryan Johansen to Nashville for d-man Seth Jones and that last year they passed over a consensus top 3 pick in winger Jesse Puljujarvi for centerman Pierre-Luc Dubois, seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets as potential suitors for Matt Duchene is no shocker.
There’s a need from the Blue Jackets’ perspective and they do have some pieces that could make a Matt Duchene trade work but a lot like the Islanders, the Blue Jackets don’t have a true young stud on the blueline (that they’re willing to trade) that the Avs would covet.
Defensemen Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are non-starters for the Blue Jackets. They are staying put in Columbus. Avs would love to get their hands on either one but that’s simply not happening.
The defenseman the Blue Jackets would trade would be Ryan Murray. Murray was drafted 2nd overall in the 2012 draft. The 23 year old d-man hasn’t panned out as he and many others expected. The former top prospect has been plagued with injuries and offensively hasn’t shown a ton. Is he the guy the Avs would want the centerpiece of a Matt Duchene trade to be? I don’t know but the Jackets would certainly have to entice the Avs with other pieces as well.
The Blue Jackets currently have the 24th overall pick in the upcoming draft but it appears that 24th overall pick will become property of the Vegas Golden Knights. Though it has not been announced, it is expected the Jackets will trade that pick to Vegas in exchange for staying clear of certain players in the Expansion Draft. That hurts a potential trade with the Avs but a next year’s 1st round pick could still be an option.
The Jackets do have plenty of intriguing young forwards that they could part with in beefing up a trade offer for Matt Duchene. Potential names include Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano, Gabriel Carlsson, Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson and William Karlsson.
Columbus has a Matt Duchene-shaped hole in their lineup but I don’t know the likelihood of Duchene going to the Blue Jackets. There’s a possibility but unsure if they’re in the mix or not.
The Ottawa Senators
When Matt Duchene‘s name first came up in the rumor mill in November 2015, the first team that was linked to it was the Ottawa Senators. And they have been linked to Duchene ever since.
This past trade deadline the Ottawa Senators were in hot pursuit of Duchene and some insiders believed that a Duchene trade to the Senators was close. But in the end, the Senators threw in the towel and backed out of the Duchene sweepstakes. Senators GM Pierre Dorion made it clear the price was too steep. That sentiment was echoed by Senators‘ owner Eugene Melnyk, in a very dismissive condescending tone, saying “Did you hear what they want for Duchene? Oh my God!”
The Avs were rumored to have wanted the Senators‘ 1st round pick, their top defensive prospect Thomas Chabot and top forward prospect Colin White. (You could see why the Sens scoffed at this proposal).
But you got to think, the Senators lost in double OT in game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins. They were one goal away from ousting the Pens. The Sens need a #1 center. They were so close to making the Cup finals. Is it possible the Sens double back to the Avs for Duchene knowing that they were so close to eliminating the eventual Cup champs? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has wondered this himself,
What would would a potential trade look like? Well, Thomas Chabot isn’t going anywhere. Not a chance Ottawa trades him.
At this point, defenseman Cody Ceci, Colin White and a 1st round pick for Duchene seems like something that would interest the Avs. The Sens probably wouldn’t want to offer that much. The Avs would rather want Chabot over Ceci. So they meet in the middle?
The Nashville Predators
The most interesting team on this list, the dark horse if you will, is the Nashville Predators.
The Predators are interesting. The only area of weakness in their organization is down the middle. They have Ryan Johansen whom they acquired for Seth Jones a year and a half ago but not much after that. Nashville made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They snuck by the Anaheim Ducks in the western conference finals after losing Johansen to injury. The loss of Johansen was a fatal blow to the Preds as they just couldn’t compete with the Penguins‘ elite centers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Having a Johansen–Duchene one-two punch down the middle, combined with good goaltending and arguably the league’s best defensive group could make Nashville a near favourite to bring home a Stanley Cup come this time next year.
One thing that does concern me is that Nashville and Colorado are in the same division. If you’re going to deal Duchene, it’s best to trade him to a different conference or at the very least a different division. The Avs definitely don’t want to be burned by a Duchene trade especially if they have to be reminded of it 4-5 times a year when they play Nashville.
What would a potential trade look like? Well, the Avs wouldn’t be getting there hands on one of Nashville‘s top 4 studs on the blueline. P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm aren’t going anywhere.
Preds could offer up d-man Dante Fabbro, forward Kevin Fiala and the 29th overall selection in this year’s draft for Matt Duchene. Fabbro was the Predators‘ 1st round selection last year and was teammates/roommates with Tyson Jost in their draft year. Fiala was the Preds‘ 1st round selection in 2014. Although he only has 17 points in 60 NHL games, Fiala has been a prolific scorer in the AHL. Maybe not ‘sexy’ names to get in a Duchene trade but still good young players with a lot of upside.
Are we in the final days of the Duchene era? Time will certainly tell but it sure does feel like it.