I’ve spent the last three weeks or so mainly working on my top prospects list and then my mock draft. So I did the Mike Smith blog about where he could be dealt and what for, and I stated in that the names were going to get bigger. Well…Duchene is bigger for sure, but he’s not too surprising. Still, the trade speculation surrounding him and Landeskog is really heating up so I better get this piece in before they’re dealt!
Let’s be honest though, this is the NHL. And in today’s NHL, GM’s claim they can’t do deals in season anymore and look for a billion excuses as to why that is. Mainly it’s because of that damn cap, it ruins everything!! Of course, every team has a capologist who has that gig in large part of making the cap work at all times for your team…soooooo….you’re all REALLY full of shit. The truth here is that these guys want to do anything they can to keep their jobs, and the less bad deals you make the better you’ll look. So why make trades? Anyway, that’s a rant I make a lot, probably will make again. Onto Duchene.
Like the Smith piece before I begin, not saying these deals will happen (which is why I add in “potential for deal” at the end), but rather I’m just looking at who I think should be in on him or what teams are rumoured to be in on him, and what the best offer for both sides could be. I could likely make an argument for 15 teams going after Duchene, but I’ll stick to the eight…yes eight teams that I believe either should be or will be the most desperate to land the centre. Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Montreal, NY Islanders, Ottawa and Washington. That’s a long list, but then again he’s close to a 1st line centre in his prime with a year left on his deal. The value of Duchene won’t match his point totals for this season. But make no mistake, this guy is a stud centre who is a game changer for whichever team may add him.
Why Calgary: It’s not something that gets touched on much with the Flames, mostly because the major need is a top end goaltender, but it would be tough to deny they aren’t strong enough down the middle long term. I love Sean Monahan, but I see him as an elite 2nd line centre on a Cup contender. Sam Bennett is scuffling and more so looks like he’s going to be a VERY streaky player. If I’m Brad Treliving or Brian Burke, I’m not waiting to see if Bennett can become the guy they need him to be when a guy like Duchene could be had.
Potential offer: Sam Bennett, Brett Kulak, Rasmus Andersson, and a 2017 1st (unprotected).
I’m sure the Flames wouldn’t want to give up Bennett in a deal, but you have to give something valuable and if you give up Bennett he’s not creating a hole in the lineup. Brodie or Hamilton going would really weaken the strength of this team, and they know how valuable D-men are. With that being said, Kulak has been in and out of the Flames lineup all year and does show signs of being a number four guy someday. Andersson isn’t the flashiest prospect, but he isn’t far away from playing in the show. From the Avs point of view here they aren’t getting a D-man who can play now so the rest of the package better be pretty sweet.
Potential for deal: 3/10. As much as I think the Flames need Duchene, much like with Mike Smith, I just don’t know if the pieces will fit. Bennett is obviously still going to have real good trade value, but the Avs currently don’t need a replacement for Duchene as bad as they need immediate help on the blueline. That could change in a possible Gabriel Landeskog deal, but for now that’s the landscape.
Why Carolina: This team is right on the cusp of being a playoff regular. That blueline is going to be rock solid, and in fact I believe they have the best defence organization wide in the NHL. Not the best current group, but throughout the organization this club is second to none on the blueline. Now they need to add a stud up front who can do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Potential offer: Jake Bean, Teuvo Teravainen, 2017 1st round pick (unprotected).
This is pretty much spot on what the Avs are reportedly looking for, and it’s a price the Canes can afford to pay. The only problem for Carolina is if they can re-sign Duchene. They’d need some sort of word that he is interested in signing there long term, which I can’t see why he wouldn’t be. With Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce and Jacob Slavin in the mix as LH shooting D, the Canes really don’t have a lot of need for Bean moving forward. Teravainen is solid, but I’m starting to wonder if he’s ever going to take another step. He seems content just being a solid top nine forward. Of course that 2017 1st is unprotected and at this point it looks to be in the lottery. In this draft, the Avs are likely only getting good value with a 1st if it’s a top 15 pick. I’m also well aware that Adrian Dater has said on twitter that Justin Faulk is in play for the Canes, but he gets that from his Avs sources, not the Canes. I can’t see it as the Canes would then lack a RH shooting D, they need to make sure they have some experience back there, and he’s just entering his prime.
Potential for deal: 6/10. This would be higher if the Canes knew they could lock down Duchene long term. I also believe the Canes would like to land Landeskog if they couldn’t get Duchene, and will end up getting one of them mainly because the fit between the two teams is too good. This is what happens when you stock pile D in the draft these days kids. You pretty much have your pick of the best offensive talent available.
Why Columbus: Curse you Elliotte Friedman! I had this written a week before he brought it up on Oilers Now a few weeks back. But if you’re doing more than admiring the Blue Jackets win streak then you aren’t looking close enough. I said it the day (pretty much exactly a year ago) they did the Johansen/Jones swap that they had a big hole to fill. Johansen wasn’t a 1st line centre, but he definitely had the ability to become that guy, and they no longer have that guy on the roster. So the chance to get a kid like Duchene is massive.
Potential offer: David Clarkson (limited NTC), Ryan Murray, Sonny Milano, 2017 1st round pick, 2018 1st round pick. Avs also send Columbus a conditional 2018 2nd round pick.
Stay with me on this one. This is the Blue Jackets attempting to kill two birds with one stone here. Shed the Clarkson contract, and land a 1st line centre. They have to know that with a 1st line centre this club is locked and loaded moving forward, and to get that without upsetting the main roster too badly who have been incredible to this point of the season they’ll need to pay out their ass, so they do. I more so added the Avs 2nd round pick to this so the Jackets would have a bit of ammo to go after a LH shot D-man who could replace Murray short term, like a Dimitry Kulikov. But essentially it’s four 1st round picks for Duchene. The Avs seem hell bent on landing a defenceman in both a Duchene deal and Landeskog deal, so Murray even though he’s playing great is the most expendable piece on that blueline. Milano I find to be expendable because the Blue Jackets are already so deep up front, especially with left handed shooting guys. Plus, two 1st rounders. But the kicker is the Avs have to eat that contract, which has one more season left at 7 million of real dollars. After that it goes down to 4.75 for 2019, 3.25 for 2020. I don’t know if Avs ownership would be willing to eat that 7 million for next season with the building likely half empty every night, but that’s why you toss the biggest offer at them. You might even consider taking out one of the 1st’s or Milano and adding Dubois to sweeten the pot for the Avs even more if need be.
Potential for deal: 6/10. Would the Blue Jackets have the balls to take this big of a swing? It feels like they could today, but you never know what’ll happen moving forward and how many of those assets they’d need down the line. Plus, it’s a hell of a deal for the Avs, as long as they are willing to swallow the Clarkson contract.
Why Florida: This is purely a hunch, but remember that the Panthers are all in on analytics. Matt Duchene is a darling in the analytics world as his possession numbers are elite. Add to that, while the Panthers are pretty good already up front, they could stand to be upgraded down the middle.
Potential offer: Nick Bjugstad, Alex Petrovic, Denis Malgin, and a 2017 1st round pick (unprotected).
Bjugstad has fallen out of favour with the Panthers after a brutal season, so he could be had. Petrovic is damn good, but I’m looking at the Panthers blueline and he appears to be expendable as they have five RH shot D-men on the big club. I’m a big fan of Malgin, but I don’t think the Panthers would balk at adding him to the deal. His speed is tremendous, but he’s really small and likely won’t have the type of skill that will make him a big time offensive star. Isn’t a big need to protect their 2017 1st as they already have dealt their 2018 2nd, and they have two extra 3rd rounders this season so they would still have three picks in the top 90 of this draft. And again, it’s not a good draft.
Potential for deal: 6/10. This is actually a little more of a need than you may think for the Panthers. Obviously the injuries to Barkov and Huberdeau had really hurt their season more than the off ice drama. But it still doesn’t go above a 6/10 for me simply because you’re not hearing that the Panthers are looking for a centre. Keep an eye on them though because as I pointed out off the top Duchene is an analytics darling and they’re perhaps the most analytics heavy team in the league.
Why Montreal: The window for this team is now open. You can debate all day whether or not this team is a true contender even if they were to land Matt Duchene, but they way they’re constructed Marc Bergevin has to make a big move now. Shea Weber may only have a few years left as an elite defenceman. Carey Price only has a year left on his contract and even though it’s unlikely he would leave Montreal at this point, you never know what might happen in the next 16 months. And this club is desperate for a horse down the middle which Duchene would be.
Potential offer: Tomas Plekanec (limited NTC), Mikhail Sergachev, Daniel Carr, 2017 1st round pick.
The trick here for the Habs is of course getting Plekanec to waive that NTC. Not an easy task. But if they could, it really opens things up for Marc Bergevin to get things done. Sergachev would be a GREAT get for the Avs, fits perfectly for them and I’m sure they were hoping he was getting to them last season (though I can’t see them being upset with Jost). Carr has struggled getting his game going this season with the Habs and was recently demoted, but he does show some promise, especially did last season prior to his injury. I don’t think much of this really needs too much explaining honestly. Three good pieces for Duchene, and Plekanec would be salary but I don’t see him as having a lot of negative value. Plus, you always need some solid vets around for a rebuild and Plekanec is a solid vet.
Potential for deal: 7/10. I believe both teams would do this. The problem is that NTC attached to Plekanec. If Plekanec won’t go then it would have to be Desharnais in the deal, and that would only free up 3.5 million. They have 2.3 million in cap space right now, and Duchene is a 6 million cap hit. Those numbers don’t add up.
Why NY Islanders: A lot of people will scratch their heads at this one, which is very fair. But the Islanders haven’t done a good job at surrounding John Tavares with much. They’re ok up front, they’re ok on the blueline, they’re ok in net. They really remind me (ironically) of the 1997 Oilers who were led by now Isles bench boss Doug Weight. A ton of fight on this team, but just not enough talent to get anywhere. Anyway, with Tavares a little over a year away from being a UFA himself, now might be the time for Garth Snow to step up to the plate and make the Islanders a more desirable organization to stay with, and Duchene would help that out. Tavares wouldn’t have to do near as much heavy lifting, and should the Islanders end up playing the Atlantic division in the playoffs they would likely be the best team down the middle should the three teams be Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
Potential offer: Mikhael Grabovski, Ryan Pulock, Matthew Barzal, and Michael Dal Colle.
No 1st rounder here, instead going with the inconsistent Dal Colle as the fourth piece. Grabovski is likely done, so his cap hit would likely be of interest to an Avs team which could be looking to be around the floor next season. Pulock is knocking at the door to get in the league and has a bomb from the point something the Avs have lacked since maybe Rob Blake’s days with the club. Barzal is the biggest piece in this deal and while he’s a great prospect he isn’t helping the Islanders today. And finally Dal Colle will still have some value, but it is really puzzling how this kid fell off. Seemed like a can’t miss prospect when the Isles took him at 5 in 2014.
Potential for deal: 5/10. I really believe Garth Snow has the balls to do something like this. He is one GM who hasn’t been afraid to step up to the plate. Thomas Vanek, all the picks he’s dealt to get UFA’s in there before July 1st in an attempt to sign them, he offered all his 2012 draft to Scott Howson just to move up two spots to take Ryan Murray, the guy has balls. But I see better offers on the table for the Avs here which is why above anything else this likely doesn’t happen.
Why Ottawa: Don’t think I need to explain why, as even Pierre Dorian hasn’t really denied his interest level in Duchene. The Sens are solid down the middle, but no doubt Duchene would be an upgrade for them. The problem is what the Sens have, or rather don’t have to give up in a deal.
Potential offer: Cody Ceci, Curtis Lazar, and a 2017 1st round pick.
I debated putting Clarke McArthur in this deal as it looks like his career could be over (not cool to type that seeing how I’ve known and been real good with Clarke since we were kids) for cap purposes but it doesn’t look like the Sens would have to do that. Option is there though. I don’t like the idea of the Sens giving up Ceci in this deal at all, but they kind of have to if they want to meet the Avs price. Lazar is a favourite of mine, but the kids career has stalled. Can’t imagine he won’t get it back on track, but for now that’s where he’s at. And then of course, again, the 1st, which isn’t near as attractive as some of the other teams chasing Duchene would be.
Potential for deal: 3/10. Without Chabot in this deal, I just don’t see a way the Sens can this done. And while I have him in this, I don’t think they can afford to give up Ceci. You give up Ceci and you go into the playoffs with a pretty big hole in your defence. So are you really gaining much strengthening your team at centre by depleting your team on the blueline? From all reports the Sens really want Duchene, but they just aren’t a good fit for the Avs unless everyone else refuses to give them the D-men they crave.
Why Washington: I’ve maintained since the end of last season that the Caps need a massive upgrade down the middle and Duchene would give them that. Put him in Washington and he could thrive, and give the Caps a tremendous trio down the middle if they prefer, or put a guy like Kuznetsov on the wing. But this team has to go for it this season in my opinion. You can sit back and not do a move like this yet again, but you’re likely not getting past the Penguins with what you got. Ovechkin is going to be out of his prime soon, if he isn’t already. Don’t you think that now is the time to push for a Cup?
Potential offer: Marcus Johansson, 2017 1st round pick, Madison Bowey, and Lucas Johansen.
This hurts the Caps long term, especially if they’re about to lose Karl Alzner. But again, I really believe they must take a home run swing this season. It’s not as if this would be the last season of this deal benefitting the Caps with Duchene locked down for another year. But
Potential of deal: 6/10. I believe they SHOULD do this, but it’s been the history of the Caps franchise to play it safe and not take a home run swing like this would be.
It’s questionable whether or not Duchene will get moved prior to the trade deadline, but I believe the Avs should do it now. I can’t imagine many more teams would be in on him in the summer with only a year left on his deal. You got a sellers market, and teams looking at him as an option for two years as opposed to one. Now is the time.
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