The Matt Duchene Trade Is a Win for All Teams Involved
In modern sports, blockbuster player-for-player trades are much rarer than they once were. Thanks to the salary cap and the cycle of going all in for a chance at the championship and rebuilding, it’s much safer for a general managers to build package deals of picks, prospects, and the occasional pro player.
On Sunday night, however, we got pretty close to a marquee deal as the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and Ottawa Senators got together to move Matt Duchene to the Canadian capital and sent Kyle Turris to Music City. And, in an even rarer twist, the deal was good for everyone involved.
Looking specifically at the two main players, Turris and Duchene aren’t that different. Since being taken with third overall picks in 2007 and 2009, respectively, they've played roughly the same number of games (542 and 585, respectively); Duchene has a little over 1,000 more minutes of time on ice, though, which speaks to his first-line status.
Their even strength production is also comparable, while confirming the perception that Duchene has a bit more top-end skill. His points per 60 minutes sit at a solid 2.05 according to Corsica; if you trim the fat of secondary assists and only focus on primary points, he’s scoring 1.59 of them per 60. His individual expected goals per 60 is also ahead of Turris (0.72 to 0.59), so he should continue to bring that top-end skill to Ottawa.
Duchene also generates a significant amount of additional power plays for his team -- he’s drawn a net of 85 penalties over his career, as opposed to Turris’ 18.
For comparison’s sake, Turris’ points per 60 come in at 1.62, while his primary points per 60 minutes are 1.35. Once again, it’s not a massive gap in talent. He has a small lead in Corsi For percentage (50.57% to Duchene’s 47.35%), but most of that difference likely comes down to team quality. After all, there's a big difference between playing with Erik Karlsson and playing in the black hole that has been Colorado during the past few seasons.
In terms of possession relative to the rest of the team, Duchene is actually ahead 1.09% to 0.72%. Again, not a huge difference, but the new Senator has an edge.
Despite those differences in production, all three teams involved in the deal will probably come away happy.
The Senators were facing the prospect of losing Turris for nothing at the end of the season and flipped him for a younger center with more offensive upside in Duchene. Andrew Hammond has only played 30 NHL games since taking the hockey world by storm in 2014-15, so losing him isn’t worth crying over, and although Shane Bowers is a nice prospect, he could still be several years away from the show.
Nashville gave up two of their better prospects in Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev to get Turris, but that allows them to reorganize their depth chart at center. Ryan Johansen will presumably remain the top center, with Turris slotting in comfortably at number two. That will bump Nick Bonino down to number three when he returns from injury, which is a better fit for his skill set. For a team who was without touching distance of the Stanley Cup last season, the allure of trading for Turris, signing him to a contract extension, and adding roughly 50 points to their lineup was clear.
Even Colorado, who doesn’t come away with any immediate impact players, should feel pretty satisfied. General manager Joe Sakic found himself in an unenviable position: at the helm of a struggling team with a star player who wanted out. The former Avs captain held firm, however, and eventually got the return he wanted. As a franchise that’s still floundering, three solid prospects and three draft picks -- including one first-round selection -- is just what the doctor ordered. It will obviously take a few seasons to see how those pieces play out, but on paper, it’s the right move to make in 2017.
While Duchene is the marquee player of this deal, every team involved can come away feeling like they got a fair shake; Turris is a capable second-line center and Colorado got a strong return for a player who had no intentions of staying in the Mile High City. When you combine that with sheer excitement that seeing a big, multi-player trade generated, it’s a win for everyone -- from the general managers down to the fans.