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Game #61 – Senators vs. Hawks Spotlight: Matt Duchene, And Knowing What You Are

One of the bigger trades in recent season’s took place early this one. It involved three teams, which rarely happens in the NHL. The Senators punted Kyle Turris to Nashville after he made it clear he wasn’t sticking around Ottawa long-term, and received Matt Duchene in return. The Sens didn’t get anything else.

On the surface, it makes sense. The Senators saw they were going to lose their #1 center, Duchene was another nominal #1 center on the market, and made the switch. They thought there was a better chance Duchene would want to stick around past his contract, though we won’t know that until July when he can be signed to an extension. And of course, this deal took place when the Senators hadn’t completely seen their intestines fall into their legs. There was still a lot of “this season” in the trade.

Still, you have to wonder if the Senators would do that deal again.

Duchene is better as a winger than he is a center, and as a center he’s almost certainly a #2. That’s where he was best in Colorado, letting MacKinnon doing the heavy-lifting or riding shotgun with him on a wing.

And Duchene is just not all that good, his Team Canada pedigree aside. He’s topped 70 points once, and 30 goals once, though he scored at that pace in the lockout-shortened season-in-a-can. His scoring would make for one of the best second-liners in the league, and a first-liner if you squint. But that is not what gets you closer to a Cup.

Now Duchene has to wonder if he wants to stick around for a rebuild, and that’s the reason he asked out of Colorado. Except this summer he’ll only have one year left on his deal and his value won’t be as high as it was in November when he was traded the first time. The Senators very well may have acquired something for a dollar that they’ll have to sell for 75 cents or less.

Duchene turns 28 next season, so if the Senators are about to embark on a plan that’s going to take two or three years to come to fruition, he’s going to be past his peak. And considering that all of Hoffman, Stone, and especially Karlsson are all being put in the shop window, three years might be conservative. You don’t build around players that are going to be over 30 when you’re going to be good again.

If the Sens are doing the full-blow up they might as well see what’s out there for Duchene. The Bruins could use another forward, and the Penguins were in on him the first time. The Send don’t have a surefire #1 center or d-man in the system, though Aaron Luchuk and Logan Brown look like they could be something in a couple years.

This is why decisions shouldn’t be made off one playoff run. The Sens got to a the Eastern Final last year on the back of Anderson and Karlsson, but anyone looking at this roster could have easily told you it was too goalie-dependent to expect anything near a repeat. And Anderson’s up-and-down career was another red flag. Turris heading into free agency was another.

The Sens could have gotten a future piece or two for Turris. Look what the Avs got for Duchene. But focused on the now has put them back two or three seasons.

Game #61 Preview




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