Once again, the Colorado Avalanche are stuck in the middle of huge on-going trade rumors involving one of their star players.
Back in the 2000s, it was Chris Drury, then Alex Tanguay, then John-Michael Liles. Going forward into this decade, this same thing happened with Paul Stastny and then Ryan O’Reilly. It seems to be an ugly trend that this organization has involving young players that are either unhappy, underperforming or don’t fit in the plans.
Now, this same thing is happening with Matt Duchene and the Avs.
Once thought to be a cornerstone, franchise player back when he was selected 3rd overall by his childhood team in 2009, he is now being shopped around the league and not thought of as part of the future of this organization.
The head-scratching part is, Duchene is still a member of the Avalanche to this date, and the reasoning is that no one can match Joe Sakic’s price in a trade. Reports have the Avs talking with multiple teams this offseason, but no deal has been close to getting done. Here is a list of teams that have been linked to Matt Duchene:
The Bruins still have defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, both of whom are of strong interest to Joe Sakic… and the Bruins are still also in need of another scoring center… so this could be a match made in heaven. However, this has been rumored since last season, and there haven’t been any indication of talks heating up between the two sides.
This deal is all but dead after the Hurricanes acquired center Marcus Kruger via trade and have re-signed defenseman Jacob Slavin and are not willing to part with Noah Hanifin at the moment (the two defensemen Sakic was reportedly looking at).
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets remain interested in Duchene, as they would love to have a 1-2 punch of Alex Wennberg and Duchene at center going forward. However, again this is another team not willing to deal the defensemen that Sakic would love to acquire. Seth Jones is rumored to be a target for Joe, but there is no indication that Columbus has ever had him available in these talks.
A team that has just gotten better and better ever since the moment they drafted Connor McDavid. But, there are questions about their depth and veteran leadership going forward as they attempt to make more playoff runs. Matt Duchene would be a perfect No. 2 center behind McDavid, and the Oilers have been thinking about the possibility of trading Leon Draisaitl in the right trade. If Draisaitl and one of the Oilers young defensemen are available — like Oscar Klembom? — it could temp the Avs to possibly talk about packaging Duchene, Tyson Barrie and prospects or picks in some sort of deal with Edmonton.
Los Angeles Kings
Another team that would love to add Duchene to their center depth. Imagine how dangerous a 1-2 punch of Kopitar and Duchene could be in the Western Conference. This move would also allow LA to keep Jeff Carter at the wing where he scores more goals. Duchene would be a good playmaker to have on the ice with the potential future Hall of Famer Carter. The problem here is, the Kings don’t have much to offer up in a trade compared to the young defensemen that these other teams have.
Montreal just added Jonathan Drouin this offseason from the Lightning, but also lost Alexander Radulov in free agency to Dallas. Word on the street is that they are actively looking at trades involving Alex Galchenyuk, so they could be interested in adding Duchene to re-park the offense even more.
At this point, Nashville is the most likely destination for Duchene. He would love to go there, I’m sure, and be in the center of the country music scene, while providing the reigning Western Conference Champions with another threat down the middle. Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene would be a lethal center duo for the Preds. At the same time, Nashville is a team that could have a defenseman to spare at some point. They just acquired Alexei Emelin from Vegas in a trade, so with him they have five legitimate top end NHL d-men — Subban, Josi, Ekholm, Ellis to go along with Emelin. There are reports that Joe Sakic has had talks with the Predators and seems to be targeting Mattias Ekholm, who just had a breakout Stanley Cup run in Nashville. However, that is wear this deal is hung up, as Nashville isn’t sure they want to give up Ekholm.
New York Islanders
There’s still a high possibility that the New York Islanders will be involved in Duchene trade talks as the summer goes on. They are such a shallow team when it comes to their scoring threat, that adding Duchene behind John Tavares would go a long way — especially in that tough Metropolitan Division. The issue here is the Avs would likely have to settle for more of an unproven prospect on the defensive side, as the one big time defensemen the Isles had was already dealt to Calgary — Travis Hamonic.
Duchene would add to the Penguins already bolstering attack, and potentially be a third line center taking over for Nick Bonino who bolted for Nashville in free agency. Duchene could also be used as a winger in Pittsburgh, which can be semi-linked to the trade rumors involving Phil Kessel. No, Kessel is not coming to Colorado — but there are reports that he could be on his way out of Pittsburgh after two seasons, and that would open up a spot at wing on one of their lines. Again, though… the issue here is what the Pens have to give in return. It isn’t likely that the Avs would be interested in a guy like Olli Maatta, whom the Pens are reportedly shopping. They want someone better, and the Pens just don’t likely have their top guys available (Letang, Schultz, etc.).