It took time but the Ottawa Senators finally found a way to make the Colorado Avalanche part with Matt Duchene. Duchene had been promised a trade by Colorado General Manager Joe Sakic long ago and despite Duchene’s good work in the early part of the season and despite Duchene’s fondness for both Denver and the Avalanche organization, both sides never changed their minds and when a suitable trade became available, Sakic consummated it.
Ottawa did not have enough on its own to satisfy Sakic so Nashville got in on the act by sending the Avalanche the missing pieces and receiving Kyle Turris from the Senators, a potential free agent who promptly signed a long term contract with the Predators. It is no use speculating on who won the trade because each team was at a different state of development and each has a different goal in mind. What was each team looking for?
They want the big man on the forward line, indeed probably the big line of the forwards. Last year, Ottawa took a significant stride forward in the playoffs, becoming Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins’ toughest opponent. They have a star defenceman in Erik Karlsson and a potential Stanley Cup winning goaltender in Craig Anderson, but their offence doesn’t scare anybody. Turris, despite his steady improvement and solid play doesn’t have the potential that Ottawa sees in Duchene. The Senators think their defeat by the Penguins last season was because they did not have anybody like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin at forward. They expect Duchene to be their Crosby or at least Malkin right now. The immediate task is to find line mates with chemistry for Duchene. There will be a lot of experiments in Ottawa at the beginning until a line is built around Duchene.
Like the Senators, the Predators are looking for chemistry. But unlike the Senators, the Predators believe they already have their big man at forward, Filip Forsberg. They want somebody to play with him and they believe Kyle Turris is that guy. And if Turris turns out to not be that player, at least they have got someone who can make a significant improvement to their second line. They reached the Stanley Cup Final last year and in this trade, they have not traded someone significant from their existing team but added another significant player to it. Is Turris enough to make them the equal of Pittsburgh and put them over the top? He’s probably a step in the right direction, but to win it all now, there may be further moves coming.
Joe Sakic has a rising young team who may have a real chance to make the playoffs this year. But he is willing to sacrifice that. In this Duchene trade, he is thinking long term. What he wants from this trade is depth. Almost all the players he received from Ottawa and Nashville are either first or second round draft choices whom the other two teams believe were not quite ready for the NHL yet. Sakic wants to find out for himself. If even only two of his flock of new players can make the Avalanche a better team, he’ll look on this trade as a successful 2 for 1 deal. The Avalanche of course are no strangers to this kind of transaction. Their most famous trade, the one that probably did the most to send them on their way to winning two Stanley Cups was when they traded (alias the Quebec Nordiques) number one pick Eric Lindros who refused to play in Quebec to Philadelphia for half a team in return. They hope the same thing will happen here.
Everybody was so excited by this trade that they could not wait to consummate it, even if it meant Ottawa and Colorado playing each other immediately in a back-to-back series in Sweden. Last year I wondered if the Senator-Avalanche match would be suitable to renew playing regular season games in Europe again and if a better match could not have been arranged. Ottawa was a good team but Colorado was near the bottom of the barrel. But the improvement of the Avalanche this year and now this trade should give the Swedish media and fans plenty to be interested about if they have been following along. Hopefully this match will increase interest in the NHL in Europe and mean more games being played there next year.