Trading for Matt Duchene was a dream come true for many fans back in 2017. Even though it meant losing one of the most loved members of the team, skill-wise it made sense. A little over a year after that notorious trade, Turris has a long-term contract, and Duchene is looking at possibly his second trade in less than 15 months.
Concerning value to the team, Duchene is a cornerstone of the success of this team. He has been playing some of the best hockey he’s played in a long time. It makes perfect sense to build around him, right? Especially seeing the impact he’s had on young players like Drake Batherson and how much better the overall offense looks with him in the lineup. The Sens, however, are in a state of daze. A state of Melnyk poverty and Dorion inefficiency.
Matt Duchene sits second on the team in scoring with 47 points, only 3 points back of Stone with 9 fewer games played. At 28 years old, he is slated to become a UFA this summer, with a contract AAV of $6M that is expected to increase significantly. It is unfathomable that the team does not give him an extension, but the reality is they simply may not afford to. One has to wonder if a decision isn’t reached by the trade deadline; do the Sens take the chance on him walking for nothing as a UFA this summer? I doubt Dorion will want to opt for that route. Realistically, a Duchene trade can jumpstart the rebuild and add some quality pieces that can help the team moving forward; assuming the trade is made right.
So what does a Duchene trade done right look like? Well for starters, it has to be at least six assets coming back. Too soon? Sorry, definitely too soon.
Duchene can be a perfect player for a team looking for a player that can take them over the edge for the playoff run and not cost them much long term. He’s also a great option for a team that is looking for a solid player that can be part of the future. The numbers being thrown around for his contract demands (or offers) are in the $8-8.5M ballpark which most can agree is fair value in today’s NHL market.
Now let’s go back to recap what the Sens gave up for Duchene and what the Avs got in return for him because there is no better comparison for a Duchene trade than a recent Duchene trade.
To Ottawa: Matt Duchene
To Nashville: Kyle Turris,
To Colorado: Sam Girard (14 pts in 50 games), Ottawa 2019 first round pick (looking like a top-5), Andrew Hammond (now in the AHL), Shane Bowers (BU), Nashville second-round pick and Vladislav Kamenev.
Needless to say, if the Sens do decide to trade Duchene the return must start with a first round pick. From there, a package including at least one high-end prospect, a young player and picks should be a no brainer. However, if Dorion gets desperate and decides to trade Duchene to a team who sees him as a rental; the return will probably be significantly lower. I also see the Sens taking back some salary or mediocre players to increase quantity of return. The market for Duchene is rich; he’s currently sitting second on TSN’s trade bait list with teams like the Penguins and Lightning (no insider information here) looking to solidify their playoff chances.
It is clear that Duchene is enjoying his time and success here in Ottawa. What’s also clear is that he wants to be paid his value and be on a winning team. Both extremely valid points for a player right in his prime. I don’t doubt that his agent and Dorion have really been in serious negotiations but how far can Dorion cave into Duchene’s demands when it comes to signing bonuses, lockout protection, and contract structure? With Melnyk still around, not very far. Does Duchene want to stay in Ottawa bad enough to wait out the ownership situation? Will the Sens even give him that chance? The closer we get to the trade deadline without an extension, the higher the probability of a Duchene trade becoming a reality. Like I mentioned above, there is no chance Dorion will let Duchene walk away for nothing this summer. No chance.
No matter the return, I do think a Duchene trade will set the team back a few steps. As for the actual return; it may take a while to assess the value. I don’t see the Sens getting anything more than picks and prospect whom all would be “could be” successes instead of the certainty of Duchene’s positive impact on the team.