A first, a second, a conditional fourth, and an undrafted prospect.
Minnesota coughed up that price for Martin Hanzal, who has registered 16-10-26 in 51 games this season for the woeful Arizona Coyotes. Hanzal is expected to play third line center for the Wild, who are all in on their Stanley Cup chances this season.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, meanwhile, are ahead of schedule. No one expected them to be in the playoffs, much less contending for the President’s Trophy (an outside chance, but still). The Jackets have prospects galore, years to contend, and a bright future. Why, then, should they trade for a center who only has two years left on his contract?
Because Matt Duchene can move the CBJ into the upper echelon of the NHL - into the elite of the elite.
Per Elliotte Friedman, Colorado wants several pieces, including a young defenseman or goaltender. If Columbus is set on Joonas Korpisalo, trading Anton Forsberg makes sense. Forsberg seems to have fallen out of favor with the front office. Adding a first and a second round pick (whichever the team doesn’t give to Vancouver for the Torts Tax), and maybe a Sonny Milano (who seems to have a hard road to make the big club going forward) to the deal seems like plenty to get a deal done for Matt Duchene.
But why does Duchene make sense? That’s a lot to give up for one guy.
Matt Duchene, the former 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, has been a 50 point player the last four seasons (including this season, which he is projected to hit, despite playing for a team that currently has 37 points in the standings). Duchene has registered 16-20-36 in 55 games this season while playing for the worst team in the league.
Duchene has shown an ability as a scorer at the NHL level, putting up 30 goals last season for the Colorado Avalanche. He has hit the 20 goal mark two other times, and will (more than likely, barring injury, hit it this season). He can win faceoffs (he’s above 60% for the season right now), provide that extra scoring the team might need, and would allow Brandon Dubinsky to slot in on the third line for Columbus in a more natural position.
Where would Duchene fit, then?
I would put Duchene on the second line, with one of Nick Foligno and Brandon Saad on the left wing, and Cam Atkinson on the right. That line would possess speed, skill, and a left wing willing to do the hard work (and Brandon Saad has put up top 5 5v5 goal numbers the last two seasons combined). Brandon Dubinsky could maintain his play with Boone Jenner while adding the speedy Josh Anderson to his wing. The 4th line would then consist of Matt Calvert or Lukas Sedlak, William Karlsson, and Sam Gagner. I’d go to war with this against any team in the league:
Scoring ability, speed, grit, and a warrior on every line. Sign me up. The pipeline is stocked fairly well at the moment (we’d be hanging on to Pierre-Luc Dubois in this scenario), and the Blue Jackets would only be sacrificing picks in what is perceived to be a weak draft (though who knows how these things really turn out).
What do you think? Could Matt Duchene fill a need here in Columbus? Let us know!