For now, Matt Duchene is a member of the Colorado Avalanche. If you listen to the 26-year old himself, it sounds like he doesn't believe that will be the case come September. Wednesday afternoon, Duchene spoke with reporters in Toronto after skating at the Power Edge Pro Hockey skills camp.
It’s no secret that many Avs players were not themselves for a large portion of last season - Duchene took this opportunity to speak candidly about how tough the season really was on the team.
“I burnt out in January,” said Duchene, who started the year by winning gold with Canada at the World Cup. “I think a lot of guys did. Nobody really knows how tough that situation was. We were out of it by mid-December. To play the rest of the year out, after playing big hockey at the start of the year with the World Cup, it was really hard.”
Beyond the frustration of last season, Duchene also spoke of the uncertainty of the offseason and how he is really just sitting around and waiting for something to happen - like many of the team’s fans.
“It’s up to the management in Colorado. We’ll see what happens. I’m not sure who I’m going to be playing for next year, but it doesn’t matter, you come out with the same intensity here and in the gym.”
It’s long been speculated by people in the media, that Matt Duchene was going to be moved this summer - TSN’s Bob McKenzie put the odds at 99% back before the draft - but things seemed to cool off when he wasn't moved by the first week of July.
That, however, might not be the case if we listen to what Duchene himself has to say.
"When you're in the weight room or you're on the ice you visualize yourself in a rink or playing with certain players," Duchene told NHL.com in Toronto on Wednesday. "I've almost felt blind this summer because I haven't really been able to do that.....
Divorced is a strong word so I wouldn't say that, but I think I've made it so that [any team association] is not part of my identity," Duchene said. "My identity will be with a team come training camp. I don't know what team that is yet, but my identity right now needs to be strong in myself and belief in myself...
He certainly sounds like a player that is open to moving on. For the first time, this is coming from the man himself - not just speculation from the media. Duchene is ready to move on, now it’s time for Joe Sakic & Co. to find the best possible resolution to the situation.
Even though not a lot has changed since the Avs played hardball in trade negotiations around draft time, a few teams that were rumored to be interested in Duchene have a much better picture of their future. The Nashville Predators have a lot more long-term cost certainty after locking up Ryan Johansen to a 8 year $64m extension and the Islanders know where they stand with defenseman Calvin deHaan after signing him to a one year deal that will see him become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Perhaps more importantly, the Carolina Hurricanes - a team that has long been linked to Duchene - have now locked up both members of their top defensive pair long-term. With the certainty that Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce being around for a long time, the Hurricanes are likely a lot more willing to trade either Justin Faulk or Noah Hanifin - two players that could definitely be the center piece of a package for Duchene.
This quote from Duchene could not be more perfect. It’s been talked about by those around hockey that Joe Sakic might feel burned by the criticism he’s received for the Ryan O’Reilly trade and as a result, he’s holding on the Duchene until he can hit a home run. It might be causing him to be gun shy and passing over deals for Duchene that he should be taking. We don’t know if this is true - it could very well be totally false - but if that’s how the front office feels, they need to get past it and not dwell on the past. I’m not saying they should give Duchene away, but at a certain point, holding out for too much could become detrimental to the team.
Maybe nothing comes of it, and maybe Duchene's words today are nothing more than a player that isn’t aware of the organization’s plans. But maybe Duchene knows more than we do. He sounds like a man that is ready to move on - it might be time for the organization to do so as well.