The peak trading points in the NHL’s off-season have come and gone, and Matt Duchene is still a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
General manager Joe Sakic still has several months before training camp opens to move out the talented 26-year-old forward – a fate which has seemingly been a fait accompli for months now. But the deeper into free agency and the summer the situation goes, the fewer partners he may have with which to deal.
So why has a swap not yet been consummated?
Clearly, by all accounts, the holdup has been Sakic’s perceived high asking price for Duchene.
“It’s definitely the holdup,” said hockey Insider Darren Dreger during a Tuesday afternoon appearance on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290. “And the ask depends on the team that Joe Sakic is negotiating with, or the team that has expressed interest. I’ve heard that it’s been as high as a couple of first-round picks, or at least a first-round pick and a former first-round draft pick who’s now a young NHL prospect, and then some and then some.
“And I don’t blame Joe Sakic for a second. Say what you want about Matt Duchene, but he can play in pretty much every team’s top-six and he is an impactful player. You look at his international resume – it’s sparkling. It’s not his fault that the Colorado Avalanche continue to fight their way through, and Sakic knows that. So he’s holding on to a blue-chip asset.
“Where it becomes problematic, though, is if it drifts into the late summer – which it looks like it might – and into training camp, and then into the regular season. Because this has been a distraction for Matt Duchene. It’s definitely been a distraction for the Colorado Avalanche in general. And I would have thought that management in Colorado would have appreciated that and done what they could to try and alleviate that distraction. They don’t need that as an organization going into another season.
“So there’s still time now. And let’s not lose sight of who represents Matt Duchene, and that’s Pat Brisson and CAA Sports. Arguably they are one of – if not the most – powerful agencies in the sport. So I don’t know that Pat Brisson is going to exert more pressure than he has already – he’s more respectful than that – but he’s a deal-maker.
“So I wouldn’t sign off on Matt Duchene coming back to the Colorado Avalanche just yet.”
Duchene has two seasons remaining on his five-year, $30 million contract, and his cap hit is $6 million. He does not have any trade protection in this pact.