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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Revisiting the Matt Duchene trade

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You’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed the trade that filled nearly every NHL headline during early November. Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic entertained trade offers for Matt Duchene for over a year before finally moving him in a deal that involved the Nashville Predators and the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 5. Nearly two months later, we take a look back at the trade that shook the NHL.

Colorado received a bounty of picks and prospects for the 26-year-old centerman. The Avs acquired forward prospect Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond, a first-round pick and a third-round pick from Ottawa. From Nashville, the Avalanche received young defenseman Samuel Girard, forward prospect Vladislav Kamenev and a second-round pick. In return, the Senators acquired Duchene and Ottawa sent centerman Kyle Turris to Nashville.

That’s a lot to sort through for one trade. For Colorado, the team missed out on the young, established defenseman that Sakic sought after. However, the Avs did receive a massive quantity of young talent and picks to compliment current assets such as Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Colorado was sitting at 8-6-0 before the trade, and is currently at 19-16-3. The impact of losing Duchene has been minimal and they have a lot to look forward to. Definitely a win for the Avalanche.

The most intriguing development from this trade’s been the radically different paths of the two teams that acquired a big-name centerman. Prior to receiving Turris, the Preds were sitting at a solid 7-5-2 and before getting Duchene, the Sens were a respectable 6-3-5.
It’s safe to say that Duchene hasn’t had the desired impact that Ottawa had hoped. During Duchene’s tenure, Ottawa’s posted a 6-14-3 record and suffered an abysmal 1-10-2 stretch during that time.

Duchene hasn’t been immune to the Senators’ struggles. In fact, he’s contributed to them. In 23 games played with Ottawa, Duchene’s scored just three goals, with only one of them coming at even strength. He’s posted a -10 plus-minus rating and is giving the puck away just as often as he’s taking it — something he’s never done in any of his eight full seasons in the league. However, Duchene’s shooting at a mere 5.9 percent while still generating over two shots on goal per game. The shots are bound to go in at some point, it’s just a matter of when for the Ottawa Senators.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Predators and Turris have been lights-out since early November. Since adding Turris, Nashville’s put up a 16-5-3 record and climbed to the top of the Central Division.

Turris has been a major factor in the Preds’ success, scoring 18 points in 23 games for Nashville and giving them solid production at even strength and on the power-play. Turris hasn’t scored at that high of a rate in each of his nine previous seasons. He’s taking the puck away more often than he’s giving it up, and he’s posted a 53.7 percent Corsi-for-percentage — 3.4 percent higher than Duchene’s in Ottawa. Nashville’s Corsi-for-percentage is 7 percent higher when Turris is on the ice, while Ottawa’s is slightly lower when Duchene’s skating. With Turris at the helm, Nashville looks poised to make another run at the Stanley Cup, and they didn’t have to give up any big name players or a first-rounder to get him.

All things considered, Nashville’s come out of this trade the obvious winner. They got an established, two-way centerman who’s produced at a high rate and they got him at a relatively cheap price. The Avalanche’s payoff is largely to-be-determined outside of Girard, who’s shown promise. As for the Senators, they got the supposed grand prize, they just haven’t cashed in — yet.

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