It’s everywhere, both on not so reputable rumour sites and in traditional media. You know that there are legs to a rumour when newspapers and television media outlets are talking about the possibility. Even more so when top insiders like Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger, Pierre LeBrun, Elliott Friedman and Nick Kypreos are taking time to discuss the topic. The Montreal Canadiens have enquired about the availability of Matt Duchene.
When Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin traded P.K. Subban for older Shea Weber, it became apparent to many of us that he was in a win now mode. Looking at the team so far this season, in spite of a breakout season from Phillip Danault and with Tomas Plekanec finally showing signs of live, it is apparent that this team needs another quality offensive centre.
The Avalanche are going nowhere fast, and GM Joe Sakic has stated that everyone not named Nathan MacKinnon was available… at the right price. But what is the right price? Insiders and other reporters are speculating, but it seems like Colorado wants a young established defenseman, a first round pick and a blue-chip prospect. That’s a high price to pay will you say, and you are not wrong, but when you are in a win now mode, you sometimes have to make tough decisions.
Duchene is not a rental player. He’s 26 years old and while not your typical big centre standing at 5’11” and 195 lbs, he is a 30-goals’ scorer who already has 15 goals and 32 points in 44 games so far this season. The former third overall pick in 2009 would fit very well in Michel Therrien‘s system of pressuring the puck, as he is extremely fast and a hard worker. He plays with fire and passion and he is a capable playmaker with plenty of goal-scoring abilities, as proven by his 30 goals last season.
Like others before me, I will try to put a couple of potential packages to land Duchene in Montreal and while those certainly won’t be unanimous amongst the fan base, they might just make the Canadiens Stanley Cup contenders this season.
- Nathan Beaulieu
- Mike McCarron or Nikita Scherbak
- 1st round pick in 2018
- Matt Duchene
- Mikhail Sergachev
- Sven Andrighetto or “B” level prospect
- 1st round pick in 2017
- Matt Duchene
- 2nd round pick in 2017 or prospect Nicolas Meloche
With both scenarios of course, the Canadiens must make room under the salary cap and they can do it by trading Plekanec and his $6 million cap hit… perhaps for a rental top-4 on defense.
I can already hear people chasing me with torches and pitchforks for daring to trade Sergachev and I understand that. I like the kid as well as he has unbelievable potential. But it remains potential.
Never forget that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
You know what you’re getting in Duchene. He has proven his potential and his abilities are proven at the NHL level, which is not the case for Sergachev. I remember here in B.C. when Alex Edler broke into the league. Canucks fans and hockey experts saw him as a potential Norris trophy winner. He had size, skills, a great shot, made good passes. His potential was unlimited.
The fact remains that with prospects, you never know when they will reach their ceiling at the NHL level. Do you think that the Dallas Stars wanted to give prospect Jarome Iginla to acquire Joe Nieuwendyk? Of course not, but the Stars, with the help of Nieuwendyk, won the Stanley Cup that year. Yes, Iginla became a great player but ultimately, no one talks about the trade being a bad one because it also helped the Stars.
Picture having Galchenyuk, Duchene, Danault and Mitchell as the centre line. Perhaps only Pittsburgh in the East would have a better group.
Potential is great. Certainty is even better, especially when you want to become a Stanley Cup contender.