The Colorado Avalanche have started off the season as the worst team in the NHL. Holding a young and inexperienced core, the team ranks 28th in power play (13.6), 25th in penalty kill percentage (77.8%), 29th in shooting percentage (7.2%), 28th in save percentage (.898%), while they are also currently sitting in second last in goals allowed (130).
As a result of their struggles, the Avalanche currently hold the poorest record in the league with a line of 13-25-1. They should obviously be in rebuild mode, considering the amount of holes that need to be filled to build around their young, but promising core. As a result, a lot of their veterans are now available on the trade market, including one of their top scorers in Matt Duchene. With Avalanche general manager, Joe Sakic, reportedly listening to offers on potential trades to be able to bring in a quality defenceman, things should get interesting in the Mile High City.
Duchene’s availability should have almost every team in the league intrigued at the possibility of adding him to their roster. At 25 years old, he provides some youth despite being an 8-year veteran that has yet to hit his prime. With 2 years left on his contract, netting him $6 million per season, acquiring Duchene won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be cheap. Despite his hefty price tag, these 5 teams should seriously consider trying to trade for Duchene to improve their rosters heading into the playoffs.
With the Minnesota Wild currently near the top of the NHL standings, they should see Duchene as a potential trade target. While it remains to be seen if the team has expressed interest, the underlying factor behind this move would be elevating their status towards being a serious contender for the Cup.
Duchene has 13 goals and 24 points as of January 11, which would have him tied for 1st and 6th on the Wild respectively. They currently hold the 7th best record in the NHL, but it’s been because of the solid play of their goalie in Devan Dubnyk, while they’ve also been relying heavily on their offensive unit. His presence in the lineup would do wonders for the team offensively, since he can help ease some pressure off of players like Eric Staal, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Mikko Koivu.
The Wild also have exactly what the Avalanche currently need: a young NHL-ready defenceman. They’d be able to offer players like Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, or Mike Reilly to get Colorado interested in making a deal. It will no doubt require a young prospect and a draft pick, along with some extra cash to make the deal a reality, but the Wild should try to go for Duchene while their Cup contention window appears to be wide open.
The Montreal Canadiens, like the Wild, are near the top of the NHL standings and could be intrigued to make a bold move to acquire Duchene. Although the team has done well offensively so far this year, getting Duchene on the roster would be a major upgrade.
First off, he could help take off an offensively load off players such as Max Pacioretty, Alex Radulov, and Alex Galchenyuk while also improving the Canadiens’ top 2 lines considerably. His biggest value, however, comes in the faceoff circle, as he currently has a winning percentage of 61.2%, which is the 2nd best in the league only behind Antoine Vermette. With the Canadiens currently holding a 50% faceoff winning percentage, having Duchene would really help the team in that department.
The Canadiens definitely have the necessary assets to lure the Avalanche into a possible trade for Duchene. They have young defensive prospects in Mikhail Sergachev and Noah Juulsen, a good defender in Nathan Beaulieu, and a salary cap dump in Tomas Plekanec. If Montreal wants to make their Cup aspirations a reality, trying to get Duchene is a smart step towards reaching that goal.
Entering this season, the Nashville Predators appeared ready to make a deep run at the playoffs. Since then, the team has found itself struggling to find consistency while keeping their playoff hopes alive. If they want any chance of saving their season before it’s too late, they should look into acquiring Duchene.
With the Predators currently in the bottom half of the league in goals-for, adding Duchene to the roster would be a huge advantage. With Ryan Johanssen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson being the team’s only consistent point-getters, Duchene would instantly become the team’s 5th best point producer and 2nd highest goal scorer.
It’s no secret that the Predators are loaded with defensive talent, both on their current NHL roster and in their farm system. Players such as Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Jack Dougherty, or Trevor Murphy could be offered up in a potential deal. Combine that with the fact that Nashville also currently has over $8 million in cap space, which it makes it safe to think that they should have an edge in acquiring Duchene.
New York Islanders
At this point, there probably isn’t an NHL team more desperate to add some offence to their team than the New York Islanders. With them currently being the 3rd worst team in the NHL with a record of 15-15-8, acquiring Duchene may be just what the team needs to help keep their playoff aspirations alive.
Having Duchene on the roster could also help the Islanders persuade their captain, John Tavares, to remain with the team. With his contract expiring next season and the future of their roster in doubt, a move like this could prevent the Islanders from losing Tavares for nothing in free agency, while also preventing a rebuild. Additionally, Duchene would instantly become the team’s 2nd best point producer and goal scorer, giving the Islanders a huge offensive boost that could propel them back into contention.
As for assets, the Islanders have everything that the Avalanche need. A defender such as Nick Leddy or Travis Hamonic, who asked for a trade request last season, could be offered as a young defender. The Islanders also possess one of the best prospect pools in the NHL, so they could also add Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, or Matt Finn into the mix to further tempt Colorado. All things considered, it makes perfect sense for the Islanders to try to make a run at Duchene.
The Anaheim Ducks are always in the conversation for the Stanley Cup, but this should be the year that they capitalize on their window of opportunity while Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are still in their primes.
With the Ducks being in the middle of the league in goals-for, having Duchene on the team would help them improve offensively. While the team does have some solid producers in Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Jakob Silfverberg, having Duchene on their roster will help ease some pressure off those players, while helping create a deadly offensive core.
The Ducks also have some assets that could entice the Avalanche to make an offer. Young defencemen such as Shea Theodore, Sami Vatanen, or Josh Manson could be offered along with prospects and/or draft picks. It won’t be easy since they are extremely tight on cap space, but taking a risk and acquiring Duchene could be the move that helps the Ducks win their first Cup since 2007.
All stats for this article are from Hockey-Reference.com.
You can follow Michael Mazzei on Twitter @MichaelMazzei3.