One of the longest soap operas in recent NHL memory finally came to an end Sunday night. But like all good soap operas, this cliffhanger had an unexpected and almost unbelievable ending. And now we wait to see if it becomes a happy ending for the love triangle that has developed over the past week or so.
This much we know. Matt Duchene is happy to finally be out of Colorado. Kyle Turris is happy because he’ll have job security and will make $36 million over the next six seasons after this one. And we’re pretty sure that Joe Sakic is happy that his tactics to continue to wait and wait (and wait), paid off in a bounty of prospects and draft picks that borders on mind-boggling.
To recap, the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators completed a three-way trade that saw Duchene move to the Senators and Turris to the Predators, then sign a six-year, $36 million contract extension. In return for Duchene, the Avs received prospect Shane Bowers, the Senators’ first-round pick in 2017, Ottawa’s first-round pick in 2018 and their third-rounder in 2019, along with goaltender Andrew Hammond. From the Predators, they picked up a second-round pick in 2018 and two prospects – 19-year-old defenseman Samuel Girard and 21-year-old left winger Vladislav Kamenev.
The fact that it’s so difficult to determine which team won this trade makes it so intriguing. Basically, each team got exactly what it needed. The Senators got an injection of speed and talent in their lineup and picked up the best player in the trade, but they also gave up a huge amount to get him. They had to give up Turris, who had been unable to come to terms with the team on a long-term extension and looked to be on his way out of town as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Clearly, the Senators, who came an overtime goal away from advancing to the Stanley Cup final last spring, are going all-in. One can just imagine the possibilities with Erik Karlsson having the speedy Duchene as an outlet for his all-world passes up the ice and out of his zone. They’ll be able to sign Duchene to a contract extension as early as July 1, 2018, and given what they gave up to get him, you’d have to think that’s exactly what they’ll do.
The Predators get another player they hope will become their No. 1 center, something Turris is certainly capable of doing. Ryan Johansen has done very little in his tenure in Music City to deserve that designation, scoring just 22 goals in 138 games, including zero in 14 games this season. The fact that Predators GM David Poile, easily the NHL’s most flamboyant cowboy when it comes to making blockbuster deals, made this deal should come as a surprise to no one. Like the Senators, the Predators have very serious Stanley Cup aspirations. They are without peer on defense and Pekka Rinne has rebounded this season in a big way.
But when it comes to creating offense up front, it was seriously and dangerously beginning to look like the same-old, same-old. The Predators required a serious upgrade offensively down the middle, with Johansen, Colton Sissons, Calle Jarnkrok and Frederick Gaudreau contributing a paltry three goals and 18 points in a combined 50 games so far this season. You are not going to win in this league with that kind of production from the center ice position.
And the Avalanche make out like bandits in this deal. Sakic seriously needed to hit a home run here and knocked it into the parking lot. They can afford to wait on Bowers, a freshman at the Boston University hockey factory this season. Girard has been outstanding in his spot appearances for the Predators this season, belying his status as a second-round pick. The Avs will have to decide whether to keep him up this season and burn a year on his contract and/or his accrued seasons for the purposes of free agency or send him back to junior hockey. Kamenev is a 21-year-old who scored 20 goals in the American League last year and is off to a great start this season with eight points in nine AHL games.
Adding another layer of intrigue to the trade is the fact the first games Duchene plays with his new team will be against his old one. In Sweden. The Sens and Avs play a two-game set against each other Friday and Saturday in Stockholm.
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