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Five Thoughts For Friday

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The Sens only played one game last week, so let’s talk some more about the Duchene trade.

Vancouver Canucks v Ottawa Senators

With only one extremely underwhelming game having been played between the last Five Thoughts and this one, there isn’t much to talk about…

Ha! Just kidding. This week is all about one of the biggest trades the NHL has seen in a long time, which saw the Sens give up Kyle Turris to the Predators and acquire Matt Duchene from the Avalanche.

Turris’ legacy

Regardless of your feelings about Matt Duchene or the trade, it’s hard to deny that losing Turris is a huge blow, not just to the Ottawa Senators, but to the entire city of Ottawa.

I’ll admit that I never believed the trade rumours about Turris. The guy is so consistent, so reliable, and such a good leader on and off the ice, that I had just assumed the Sens would find a way to make things work. I’ve been calling Turris the most underrated Ottawa Senator since about 2013. I wanted him to be captain after Spezza left, and I wasn’t alone. Remember when that was a thing? #TurrisForCaptain was an actual thing.

Turris had some great moments on the ice, but of course all of that pales in comparison to what he did for the city of Ottawa. There have been a lot of stories about his work with the Capital City Condors floating around the Sens blogosphere since the trade, and though I won’t link to them all I would highly recommend you look them up (but not before grabbing a box of tissues).

It always sucks to lose a guy like that.

Comparing Duchene and Turris

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at how the two centremen match up.

As some have pointed out, they’re pretty similar players:

Now, it is worth mentioning that Turris has played most of those games on the first line, with wingers such as Clarke MacArthur, Bobby Ryan, Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, and often with Erik Karlsson right behind him. Those are some really good players. I’m not saying that they were carrying him, because Kyle Turris is absolutely a more than competent NHL player who is capable of making people around him better, but let’s not pretend that his stats haven’t benefited from good linemates.

Compare this to Matt Duchene, who, according to my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the Colorado Avalanche, has been playing with some Less Good players, and often on the second line behind Nathan Mackinnon. When you also consider that he’s had trade rumours hanging over him for awhile now, it’s reasonable to assume that he’ll improve once he assumes Turris’ spot on the roster.

Did we give up too much?

Any time a trade goes down in the NHL, everyone immediately tries to identify winners and losers. With this one, I mainly saw two different takes: some said that every team won, while others said that Ottawa was the clear loser.

I definitely think the Sens are the most interesting team involved in the trade, in terms of what they got and what they gave up. On the surface, it kind of looks like they overpaid: Duchene is slightly better than Turris, and slightly younger, and he’s signed for an extra year, but is he worth the prospect and two picks added into the mix?

However, we do need to factor in the state of contract negotiations with Turris. Reading between the lines of what both parties have said following the trade, it sounds like a deal wasn’t going to get done. We might never know how far apart Turris and Dorion were, or why they couldn’t reach an agreement, but it certainly looks like the Sens decided they had to trade Turris, and they got the best value they could in the deal.

Frankly, I admire Dorion’s hustle in dealing Turris so quickly. The Sens (along with many other teams, I’m sure) have a bit of a habit of waiting too long before trading players, and seeing their value drop as a result. They did it with Spezza and Cowen, and it kind of looks like they’re headed in that direction with Ceci. A more cautious GM might have held onto Turris for a few more months until it was clear that he was not going to re-sign, then flipped him for a few picks and maybe a player of lesser value, because at this point he’d have no leverage and would be at risk of losing him for nothing. Dorion, however, sent the guy to Nashville before rumours could really take off, and actually brought in someone even better than him.

Let’s just appreciate that for a moment. How often do you see teams trade their number one centre for a better centreman? And how often do they pull it off without giving away any of their top prospects?

More to come?

Pierre Dorion has said many times that he’s always looking to make a trade, and he’s certainly backed up those words with actions since taking over as GM. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled off another deal relatively soon.

The funny thing about the trade is that it doesn’t really change the makeup of the team. It’s just swapping one centreman for another. We still have too many defensemen, and they’re still preventing the younger guys from getting a shot with the team. We could also still do with a few more top 9 forwards.

Ceci has been involved in a lot of trade rumours over the years, and many fans had assumed he would be the centrepiece of a potential Duchene trade, but Ian Mendes mentioned in a recent piece for TSN that Dorion had refused to give up Ceci. If he wouldn’t trade the guy for Matt Duchene, it’s unlikely we’ll see a trade involving Cody Ceci any time soon.

So who will get traded, then? Your guess is as good as mine. But exciting times are certainly ahead.

Sweden

We’ll round this out with a look at some slightly more current events. The Sens are in Sweden right now, set to face off against the Avalanche twice in the next two days. This has given us plenty of fun team videos and hilarious Instagram stories, but so far, it has not given us any actual hockey. This Sweden trip is obviously a very cool thing and I’m sure the players are having a great time (unlike their coach, who apparently hasn’t even left his hotel room), but placing it right in the middle of November, and making the games actually count, seems to be doing a huge disservice to both the Ottawa Senators and the Colorado Avalanche.

In total, the teams each lose almost two weeks of play, and they’ll have to make that up later on in the season. Would it not make sense to go to Sweden for an exhibition game, or a preseason game? Not to mention that every attempt by the NHL to “grow the game” just makes their decision about the Olympics even more confusing.

Road trips can be good for team building, and I’m sure Matt Duchene appreciates having some time to get to know his teammates, so it might be a good thing in the end. We probably won’t know for awhile. Still, this doesn’t seem like the best time for the NHL to send two teams to Europe.