Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. Source: Getty Images
There's interest across the NHL for Colorado center Matt Duchene, from Carolina and Montreal to Nashville and New York. Will a deal happen before the puck drops on the 2017-18 regular season?
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene remained a constant focus of trade speculation throughout the off-season. With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, his future with the Avs remains a hot topic for the NHL rumor mill.
In mid-August, The Denver Post's Mike Chambers reported that Avs GM Joe Sakic said Duchene was still on the trade block. While Sakic continues listening to offers, he expects the 26-year-old pivot to attend training camp.
Last Friday, TSN's Darren Dreger told Buffalo's WGR 550 the market for Duchene could heat up as training camp approaches and rival GMs return from summer holidays. Dreger noted the Nashville Predators had kicked the tires on the former 30-goal scorer. He felt they're still interested but unwilling to part with one of their top defensemen.
On Tuesday, USA Today's Kevin Allen took to Twitter replying to his readers' questions regarding Duchene's trade status. With so many teams carrying limited salary-cap space, he doubts a deal will be made prior to training camp. Allen considers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens as the top three trade destinations for Duchene. He points out the Blue Jackets attempted to acquire the center earlier this summer but the asking price (“a first-rounder, quality young defenseman, proven NHLer and top prospect”) remains high.
A report out of Columbus in early July had the Jackets making a pitch with blueliner Ryan Murray as part of the return. On Aug. 14, The Athletic's Aaron Portzline reported Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment about potential trades but didn't rule out making one.
The Predators and Jackets could continue monitoring Duchene's trade status in the hopes Sakic will accept a lower return. The same could be said of New York Islanders GM Garth Snow, who reportedly made a failed attempt to acquire Duchene by offering up defenseman Travis Hamonic and a first-round pick. Snow eventually shipped Hamonic to the Calgary Flames. The Isles now have two first- and two second-round picks in the 2018 draft and could use them as bait if they revisit their interest in the Avs center.
The Hurricanes and Canadiens must bolster their offensive strength at center. However, it's doubtful at this stage if either club will land Duchene. With their depth in young established NHL defensemen, the Hurricanes seem a perfect trade partner for the Avs. But earlier this summer, Carolina GM Ron Francis said he was unwilling to part with one of his blueliners for a player who could depart via free agency within two years. Francis didn't mention Duchene, who's eligible for UFA status in July 2019, but it's obvious to whom he was referring.
Trade speculation leading up to the 2017 NHL draft linked the Canadiens to Duchene, with center Alex Galchenyuk considered a possible trade option. That chatter dried up once the Habs re-signed Galchenyuk to a three-year contract on July 5. The Habs lack sufficient blueline depth to make a competitive offer to the Avalanche.