Well, the 2017 Expansion Draft has come and gone. The Columbus Blue Jackets lost William Karlsson to the Vegas Golden Knights, as was expected once a trade was made with Vegas. That aforementioned trade ensured that the Knights would not take Josh Anderson, Joonas Korpisalo, or Jack Johnson. For a 2017 first round pick and a 2019 second round pick, Vegas would leave those players alone, as well as take the contract of David Clarkson off of the books.
To that last point- the Blue Jackets could now comfortably approach the cap without having to worry about making 8 paper moves on Opening Day to accommodate any major signings or trades that the team makes. As our own Pale Dragon said:
There are only so many paper moves that can be made to be cap compliant on the first day of the season. Without trading Clarkson, we’d have 22 players under contract with only $5M left to sign Wennberg and Anderson and add any additional players. If we were to go over $75M in that scenario, you’d have to send enough players down that you’d have at least 20 still in Columbus, and the players sent down are waiver exempt and get you under $75. Of the projected regular players next year, Milano, Hannikainen, BJORKSTRAND, Werenski, Carlsson, Nutivaara, and Korpisalo are waiver-exempt. None are making more than a million. The math just wouldn’t work, not if the Jackets want to add an additional player.
So! The Blue Jackets have opened up some cap space in controversial, possibly overpaid fashion. What’s done is done though, and the Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, “We’re paying injured guy after injured guy” debacle is behind is. Now that we have money, let’s spend it!
I am such a millennial.
I know I have been all over bringing Matt Duchene to Columbus in the past. But this time is different! We have been through the expansion draft. The Blue Jackets have given up assets to Vegas to keep as much of their core together as possible, only losing William Karlsson and a couple draft picks (along with that albatross Clarkson deal). This gives the team $10+ million dollars to make moves this offseason.
Colorado was awful last season, bottoming out in the NHL standings and then seeing their draft pick fall all the way to fourth in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The Colorado Avalanche could not have had a worse calendar year if they tried to. As a result, the team has been looking to move their solid pieces and bring in young, team controlled talent to bolster their prospects going forward.
Matt Duchene has been one of those pieces rumored to be available. Duchene, a 26 year old center, has 2 years left on a 5 year, $30 million deal. Last year, he appeared in 77 games, scoring 18 goals and registering 23 assists. Those numbers might not jump out, but remember that Colorado was a 48 point team last year (not a misprint).
Duchene as hit 55 points five separate times in his NHL career. He has hit 60+ twice, not including a 59 point season just two years ago. Those are numbers from the center position we haven’t seen since Ryan Johansen was here, and Duchene has been doing it without a player like Cam Atkinson on his wing. In Columbus, one can easily conceive of the 26 year old playmaker hitting those numbers if he stays healthy, which he has been since the 2011-12 season.
Duchene is also a goal scorer. He hit 30 goals in 2015-16, and has averaged 21.75 goals a year during his NHL career. Columbus could use that type of playmaker in the middle, an area of weakness ever since Johansen was traded.
But what would it take to get him? According to Mile High Hockey the Avalanche need the following:
Everything pretty much, but specifically they need a top-4 defenseman. Joe Sakic seems to have further qualified this by implying that they need a young, yet NHL-proven, top-4 defenseman that can instantly fit into the “new” core being built around youngsters like Mack and Mikko and perhaps some others like Tyson Jost, JT Compher and Nikita Zadorov.
So, what can the Blue Jackets offer to help get this deal done? I propose the following:
Colorado sends: Matt Duchene (C)
Columbus sends: Boone Jenner (LW, C), Ryan Murray (D), 2018 first round pick
Whoa, that’s a whole lot to give up for a center who may or may not be elite!
It’s a seller’s market, and the Blue Jackets would have to give up a lot to get a player of Duchene’s caliber.
First, would the salary work out? Yes. As noted, Duchene is set to make $6 million this season. Boone is sporting a $2.9 million cap hit, Murray a $2.9 million cap hit as well. Both players are restricted free agents at the end of their contracts, leaving both under Colorado control for the foreseeable future. The first round pick salary added later would easily fit into Colorado’s cap space.
Second, would the Avalanche accept this offer? I believe they would. Ryan Murray may not be a top four defenseman in Columbus, but that is because of the depth above him. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones are clearly the best two defensemen on the team, each getting votes in the race for the Norris Trophy. The team has shown a reluctance to break up the pairing of Jack Johnson and David Savard, leaving Murray the odd man out. He could have value for the Avs, allowing them to help stabilize their defense.
To this end, I am also including Boone Jenner in this trade. Boone, an alternate captain for the Blue Jackets, is a solid two way player who possesses some offensive touch. Boone is a former 30 goal scorer, so he knows how to put the puck in the net. Where his value in this trade comes from, however, is his work in the defensive zone. Boone is a solid penalty killer, a willing shot blocker, and can help his defensemen out whenever the need be. If Colorado is looking to bolster the defense, adding a solid two way forward who never takes a night off could certainly help that cause.
Colorado is also looking for shiny picks in the draft. The Blue Jackets gave their 2017 pick away, but this is also a relatively thin draft. By giving Colorado next year’s first round pick, Colorado can zero in on next year’s crop of defenseman that could give them a boost down the line as their rebuild is nearing completion and help bolster their back line.
A potential lineup could unfold as such:
So- Boone, Murray, and a first round pick for Duchene. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!