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Instant Analysis: The Matt Duchene Blockbuster

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The centre upgrade comes at a very steep price.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official. After years of rumours, Joe Sakic finally sealed the deal with Pierre Dorion and David Poile to trade Matt Duchene to Ottawa. The three way trade sends Kyle Turris to Nashville and a boat load of future assets to the Avalanche.

In hindsight, we should’ve seen this coming from a mile away. The three teams were ideal trade partners; Nashville needed a centre, Ottawa needed cost certainty and Duchene wanted out of Colorado. Although the Senators are a better team because of this, the trade appears to be a loss for Ottawa.

In case you missed the full trade, here are Ottawa’s moving pieces:

IN: Matt Duchene
OUT: Kyle Turris, Andrew Hammond, Shane Bowers, 2017 1st round pick, 2017 3rd round pick

First are the two main assets: Duchene and Turris. Duchene has been the bigger star for years, hitting 70 points in 2013-14, and is two years younger. However, looking at their more recent stats, the two are in fact very comparable.

Duchene provides a clear immediate upgrade at centre for the Senators, although it came at a massive price. Because Ottawa had already traded their 2018 2nd round pick to the Rangers as part of the deal for Derick Brassard, Ottawa will no longer be picking until round three come draft day this offseason. Including Shane Bowers, who was their 1st round pick in 2017, a lot of future assets have been lost — too much to justify the amount of upgrade the Senators are receiving. This will surely be felt in years to come.

Although the price was too much, the Ottawa Senators are a better team today than they were yesterday. With Erik Karlsson in his prime, now is the time to win. The run to the Eastern Conference Finals was proof to management that this team can do it, and they’re doing everything they can to bring a Stanley Cup to Ottawa, no matter the price.

With so many moving pieces, there are a few more spots worth mentioning, the first being Duchene’s cap hit. With Turris signing in Nashville for an identical cap hit as Duchene’s current contract, the only cost certainty Dorion receives is through the lesser term. Even then, if Duchene decides to re-sign in Ottawa, it will likely come at a price above his current contract, which would essentially negate any of the previous benefits. The other option would be to let him walk in 2019, which depending on contract negotiations with Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson, may end up being a real possibility.

Also leaving Ottawa are Andrew Hammond and Shane Bowers. With the rumours that were floating around concerning Thomas Chabot and Colin White being included, Dorion should consider it a win that he managed to fit in Bowers instead. His ceiling isn’t very high for a typical 1st round pick, and the label has earned him a higher perceived value than his actual value. He hasn’t been outstanding in his NCAA debut thus far, although at only 18 years of age, there’s still plenty of time for that to change.

As much as we’ll covet the Hamburglar for his miraculous run, it’s been time to part ways for a while. He provides some short-term cap savings (it expires after this season), although more importantly, it opens up a spot for Marcus Hogberg on the Belleville Senators’ roster. There’s still a log jam with Danny Taylor and Chris Driedger looking for minutes in addition to Hogberg, although something in there needed to give eventually.

Although we can consider this a loss for Ottawa in terms of pure value, there are still many positives to take away. Ottawa is becoming closer and closer to achieving the status of a Stanley Cup contender, and it’s really exciting.