Matt Duchene probably remains the player most likely to be traded in the National Hockey League, although that’s really been the case since the summer and no deal has come to fruition yet.
The general perception, whether it’s accurate or not, is that Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has been asking significantly more than the market will bear for the 26-year-old forward.
A sticking point in Duchene’s valuation from other general managers’ perspectives is that he only has this season and next year left on his deal, and no extension can be signed until July of 2018.
Sakic apparently seeks quality, young team controllable assets (including a higher-end defenseman/defensive prospect) and the GM’s counterparts are hesitant to surrender such a big price since Duchene could then walk out the door in the summer of 2019.
The interest in Duchene apparently remains high though, and there was another interesting trade-related nugget revealed on that front during a Thursday morning conversation on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 with NHL analyst Pierre McGuire.
McGuire tends to be a polarizing figure among hockey fans, but he’s in the proverbial trenches alongside the ice nightly watching the action up close, and part of his job involves being in contact with people at all levels around the league.
McGuire isn’t part of the specific NHL Insider quartet followed on this particular beat, but as someone who makes daily radio appearances he does provide some interesting content worth passing along from time to time.
As part of Thursday’s 16-minute conversation, McGuire was asked if he thought it possible that perhaps the waters could calm on the Duchene trade front and if the forward might actually just be staying in Colorado.
“I think that would be tough,” considered McGuire. “I could see where they have some fun short term, but I think long term he’s still going to have to move.
“What’s interesting is I spoke to a management team three days ago, and they definitely want to be a player. I know they’ve already made an offer on Duchene. I just don’t know what the offer is, but they said it was substantial so I believe them. But they’re trying to figure it out because it looks like it would have to involve another team.
“I think there are a lot of moving parts on the Matt Duchene front, but I also think you’re also going to see at some point he will be moved.”
There was another Duchene note shortly after this point, but it first involved McGuire being asked if he thought the Nashville Predators – a team rumored to be in on Duchene at various times – might deal for Kyle Turris from the Ottawa Senators as a fallback plan.
Turris is in the final season of his contract, and although the Senators and his camp appear to be in agreement on salary for an extension, term remains a dividing issue.
“They’re definitely prioritizing getting another center to play right behind Ryan Johansen because of the retirement of Mike Fisher,” said McGuire of the Predators. “So the answer is yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised. Now again, I’m not going to put names out there because I just don’t know. And I haven’t heard Kyle’s name about that, so potentially you’re reading that in a place where I haven’t seen it. But I would just tell you that they definitely are looking for a center ice player just because of the retirement of Mike Fisher. So again, that’ll be an interesting place to watch.
“But the management team that I spoke to the other day about Matt Duchene, they were really, really serious about it. They were prepared to do whatever it took to get the player. They really think that the player helps them become an instantaneous contender.”
‘Really, really serious about it.’
‘It looks like it would have to involve another team.’
Your Rorschach test of the day: To which franchise do you think he’s alluding with his comments?
There was another section of comments worth passing along from this particular conversation with McGuire, unrelated to Duchene.
The analyst was asked for his thoughts on James van Riemsdyk, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I don’t know because I know James really likes playing there No. 1,” began McGuire. “But No. 2, here’s something that’s not talked about a lot. James is from Middletown, New Jersey. He spent a lot of his off-seasons early in his career training in Connecticut, near where I live, and living there. He uprooted his family and moved. They’ve got property out in Minnesota. He lives on the same lake where Zach Parise and a bunch of the other Minnesota Wild players live, and a bunch of the guys from the University of Minnesota live and train. That would be a dark horse situation, but if they ever let him go to market I wouldn’t be shocked if Minnesota was a very real player for him. Now, we’re going way down the road.
“But I would say if I were Toronto that those are the quiet goals you need to have. James is not a loud player. James is just a consistent player. There’s a difference. Everybody sees his size when they meet him. They’re like, ‘Oh, this guy is going to just crush people.’ That’s not the way he plays. He’s just got silky smooth hands and an ability to finish. He always has.
“But it’ll be interesting to see what Lou Lamoriello does with that one because that’s going to be probably his biggest conundrum. That’s a piece – a chip in the game – that he can play to make their defense better.”
Van Riemsdyk’s cap hit for the Leafs is $4.25 million, although he’s making $5 million in actual salary this season.
This is the final season of his six-year, $25.5 million pact and he has a modified no-trade clause through which he submits a 10-team no-trade list.