It seemed like a normal Friday evening. A light NHL schedule, quiet around the hockey world and then NHL insiders Darren Dreger and Elliotte Fridman decided to go and get everyone all riled up. For about an hour last night, it appeared as though the Colorado Avalanche were on the verge of finally trading Matt Duchene.
While the Avs were in Philly - a night ahead of their game against Flyers - it looked as though Joe Sakic was going to finally pull the trigger on a Duchene trade. And not just any trade, a blockbuster that would have had huge implications for three separate teams.
Darren Dreger was the first to report a presumed deal that would have sent Duchene to Ottawa in a rarely-seen three-team trade. The trade would have seen talented center Kyle Turris go from Ottawa to Nashville.
And the return that finally got Sakic to move Duchene? That part remains a mystery. Matthias Ekholm’s name was thrown out briefly but that was later denied by Friedman.
It's believed Ott/Col/Nash were in discussions on 3 way trade involving Matt Duchene going to Sens. Talks have ended. No deal.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 4, 2017
Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported in September that the Ottawa Senators have been “aggressive” in their pursuit of Duchene. The Predators have also been looking for a center and have been seen as one of the likely landing spots for Duchene - though trading him within the division is something the Avs would probably like to avoid. With last night’s report, it looks like the Preds might have turned their attention to Kyle Turris to fill the void down the middle. Duchene to Turris might seem like a big step down for Nashville, the two centermen are a lot closer - in terms of impact on a lineup - than many believe.
The teams were obviously very close to getting something done. It got to the point that even one of the best in the business appeared to think the deal was done:
He deleted the above tweet about an hour later so at the time of his report, it seems as though Friedman thought the trade was still on - and very close. He later clarified the situation, but just the fact that it got to the point the Friedman was comfortable to tweet anything - even if he deleted it later - speaks volumes.
The trade was close. There are a couple moving factors when it comes to why it likely fell apart - not the least of which is that Nashville was looking to talk with Turris about signing an extension before anything was finalized. The 28-year old is an unrestricted free agent after the season and if Nashville is going to give up the assets necessary to placate the Avs in this deal, they’d want to make sure Turris isn’t just a rental.
Another major factor in this speculated deal is Ottawa’s internal budget. The Senators are not a cap team so for them to take on a contract like Duchene’s they’d likely need equal dollar figures moving out.
Matt Duchene makes $6m this season while Kyle Turris is at only $3.5m. The three teams would have had to try to find a way to subsidize most (if not all) of the balance, something that wouldn’t have been easy to do.
Last note: Turris (NASH), Duchene (OTT), haul of picks and maybe prospect or two (COL). No Ekholm.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 4, 2017
Then there's the bigger issue of return for the Avs. The fact that Friedman wasn’t able to pinpoint the exact return for Colorado isn’t a coincidence. The speculation that Duchene would have been moved with only picks and prospects coming back simply doesn’t make sense from the Avalanche perspective unless it’s a drastic overpayment - which it very likely could have been. Both teams have a number of prospects that would be of interest to the Avalanche. Thomas Chabot, Filip Chlapik, Dante Fabbro, Eeli Tolvanen are all players that would be a very good starting point for a big package coming to Colorado. One would assume at last one first-round pick was coming back as well.
So how does a rumor like this get out in the first place?
The fact that the rumor was so detailed suggests that it was intentionally leaked by one of the parties involved. Maybe one of the teams wants to put pressure on the Avs to finally pull the trigger. Maybe a scout with loose lips got bored on a Friday night. The fact that Dreger was the first to have it points to the possibility that Duchene’s agent Pat Brisson having something to do with it.
The ironic part of all this is that the Avs and Senators are going to spend next week together in Sweden. One would assume Joe Sakic and Pierre Dorion are going to be spending some time face-to-face, maybe that’s what it takes to finally takes to get something done.
Where there’s smoke there’s fire. A rumor like this - especially one so specific - wouldn’t get out in the media if the trade didn’t get close. Matt Duchene has been speculated to be on the move for over a year now, but this time it feels different.