Matt Duchene is still a member of the Colorado Avalanche despite a whirlwind of trade chatter over the past two weeks. Many expected the talented forward would have been moved at the NHL Entry Draft or on July 1st - that didn’t happen. Despite teams moving on to their summer and looking to put the finishing touches on their rosters, it’s still more likely than not that Duchene will be traded before training camp starts in September.
Yesterday, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman was on CHED630 in Edmonton, where he touched on the latest Duchene rumors.
“Duchene…some people rip the Avalanche and they say they’re being obstinate. Their perspective is – look, one of the guys Columbus was talking about was Ryan Murray. And I really don’t like where I’m going to go with this because I have a bad feeling it’s going to be totally misinterpreted because I don’t want to insult Ryan Murray. But the way Colorado looks at it is he is their fifth defenseman. ‘We’re not trading Matt Duchene for a fifth defenseman.’
Now, I don’t think that Ryan Murray is a fifth defenseman. I think on that team he has become one. And he has become expendable. They look at Werenski. They look at Savard. Look at their trade for Seth Jones. They’ve got a couple of really good young kids coming. They’ve kept their veteran in Jack Johnson. So in Columbus’ eyes, Murray has fallen down their depth chart. And I think Colorado looks at that and says, ‘Why are we going to make a deal for a guy, yes he can help us, but it’s not really hurting them to give him up.’
I hope that doesn’t get misconstrued as an insult to Ryan Murray because that’s not what I mean by it. I’m just saying he’s not one of their top D. So I think that’s kind of part of the problem, is they look at it and say, ‘Well we need more than that.’”
Friedman is right, Ryan Murray is more than a typical 5th defenseman in the NHL, but if he’s the key piece to an offer from CBJ, it’s no wonder Sakic said no. If you’re going to be trading a player as talented as Matt Duchene, you need the return to be centered around a player better than Murray.
Friedman went on to talk about the Nashville Predators being a potential trading partner for the Avs.
“Nashville is a really interesting one,” continued Friedman on the Duchene trade front. “I think they’ve asked Nashville for Ekholm. And Nashville doesn’t want to do that. If Colorado was going to make that trade, that’s a heck of a return. After watching Ekholm in the playoffs, holy cow is that guy a great player. Nashville doesn’t want to do that and not only that, but he’s signed to a great contract. So I think they’re just going to hold out here.”
Ekholm is older than Murray, but he is a much better defender and the type of player that could bring a ton of stability to the Avs. At 27, and with 5 years left on a very team-friendly contract - $3.75m cap hit per season - Ekholm is exactly the type of player you’d expect Sakic to be holding out for.
For those who are getting impatient with all the Duchene trade talk and just want it all to come to a resolution, Friedman had one last nugget of information for Avs fans to keep in mind.
“Now, Chris MacFarland, who is the right-hand man of Joe Sakic there in Colorado, he traded Rick Nash on July 23, so he’s patient. He was with Scott Howson when they made that deal and it was July 23 and they waited until they got what they wanted. So I think that Colorado is going to follow the same path.”
It still feels as though a trade will get done. Both Duchene and the team seem ready to move on and it’s now just a matter of finding the right fit. If nothing else, at least it will give us something to talk about during the quiet time of the offseason.