Who won the Matt Duchene deal?
Emily Kaplan: I give the nod to the Ottawa Senators. When you look at the pieces maneuvered in this deal, you almost wonder: Did Ottawa need to be involved at all? The Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators could have worked out a trade themselves -- the Predators still would have received a top centerman, the Avalanche would have recouped multiple prospects, especially a talented D-man. Everyone still leaves happy. However, the Senators nudged themselves in there, and I like the results. In Duchene, Ottawa gains a 26-year-old in his prime. The Sens also get a player who could be rejuvenated by a new start. And that's really the crux of this deal: fresh beginnings.
Kyle Turris was a fantastic player for Ottawa, but it seemed his camp and the Senators had stalled on a contract extension. (He was due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.) A day before the trade was consummated -- shortly after the initial framework was leaked to the media -- Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos reported it appeared "highly unlikely" that Turris would remain a member of the Senators beyond this season. Turris immediately signed a six-year, $36 million extension with Nashville, something Ottawa likely couldn't offer. Duchene is 26, Turris is 28. Duchene is a 0.73-points-per-game player in 585 career games in Denver. Turris has averaged 0.59 points in 544 games. Let's say Ottawa really wasn't going to re-sign Turris. How were they going to replace him? Top-line centers rarely hit the market. The Senators no longer have to worry about that, now that they've butted in to the NHL's biggest deal of the year. Oh, and they also didn't have to surrender two of their top prospects, defenseman Thomas Chabot and center Colin White. Not bad, Ottawa.
Greg Wyshynski: Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic won this trade by exhibiting a virtue so many executives of moribund franchises don't seem to possess: patience. He knew his asset: a 26-year-old No. 1 center with two years left on his contract. He knew his asking price: a bounty of high draft picks and blue-chip prospects that would hasten the Avs' rebuild.
For two years, he didn't budge. I've spoken with other team executives who were flummoxed by Sakic, feeling that their bids were good enough to land Duchene, but they were still rebuffed by the Avalanche. Yet in the wake of this three-way trade with the Predators and the Senators, we can see why: Sakic was able to rope two teams into a deal, get two blue-chip forwards (Shane Bowers and Vladislav Kamenev) and a potential top-pairing defenseman (undersized offensive whiz Samuel Girard) among the prospects, snag a backup goalie with an expiring contract and grab first- and second-round draft picks in 2018 and a third-rounder in 2019.
What a haul.
Seven assets for one star player just doesn't happen these days in the NHL. Taylor Hall went one-for-one with Adam Larsson. Seven players total were in the Tyler Seguin trade, two of them joining Seguin in moving from the Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars. The fact that goalie Andrew Hammond is the only veteran with an expiring contract coming to the Avs, considering the volume of assets, is remarkable.
Sakic scored plenty during his NHL career. Here, he scored one for patience, scored one for steadfastness and, in the process, scored a rather incredible return for Colorado. Now comes the hard part: developing those prospects, smartly utilizing those picks and hoping that karma revisits him in the lottery to land Rasmus Dahlin, the franchise defenseman at the top of the 2018 draft.
Chris Peters: This is one of those trades in which I really like it for everyone involved. Sakic managed to get an impressive haul of assets for a player everyone knew he had to trade, while Senators GM Pierre Dorion and Predators GM David Poile got high-end NHL players for their teams. The latter two GMs also managed to acquire those important pieces without giving up their very best prospects.
The Preds are no doubt taking a hit in the prospect department, losing Kamenev and Girard, but they managed to hang onto Eeli Tolvanen, who has been ripping the KHL to shreds this season (14 goals and 25 points in 27 games for Jokerit). Meanwhile, the Senators did not have to part with any of their top three prospects, with Chabot, White and Logan Brown all staying put. Bowers is a solid prospect in his own right, but Ottawa did well to hang onto the other three.
However, I'm going to give the official nod to Sakic. This is a GM who badly needed a win, and I think this deal qualifies. I'm sure he was hoping he'd have an established NHL player in the mix, but this is the kind of deal a rebuilding team has to make. Girard is the key piece for me, as he's a dynamic defenseman who plays a style that melds very well with today's NHL, while also filling a need for the Avs. I think Kamenev has special qualities in his game, too. He's done very well at the AHL level and should have a chance with the Avs soon. Bowers is less of a sure thing, but he's very promising and probably has at least another year (maybe two) at Boston University before he's ready. And don't sleep on those draft picks, either, as Colorado has had some strong drafts of late.
Recent rebuilding teams, particularly the Toronto Maple Leafs, have shown the benefits of stockpiling draft picks and prospects. Sometimes those picks and prospects make your NHL roster, sometimes they can be packaged for more deals. I think Sakic made the best out of a tough situation.