While on TSN Insider Trading earlier this week, NHL insider Pierre LeBrun reported that the Nashville Predators could listen to offers for several key players if they do not heat up immediately. Following that report, the Predators lost to the Boston Bruins by a 5-0 final score, so that may have heightened the chances of general manager (GM) David Poile doing this. Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Johansen, and Mikael Granlund were all mentioned by LeBrun, but the biggest name he addressed was Matt Duchene.
Duchene is once again having a very strong season, as he has 17 goals and 43 points in 52 games played. There is no question that plenty of teams would love to add him to their top six, as he is still a very effective point producer. However, he also carries an $8 million cap hit until the end of the 2025-26 season, so Nashville would likely need to retain some of his salary in any move centering around him. Let’s now look at three teams who could make a push to acquire the 32-year-old forward at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils have a 36-14-5 record and are going to be notable buyers at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. They have been linked to Timo Meier, but if they miss out on the San Jose Sharks star, perhaps they could make a push to land Duchene instead. Keep in mind, the latter has proven to be effective while utilized on the wing, so there certainly could be a fit for him in New Jersey’s lineup.
When looking at the Devils’ forward group, I see Duchene as a truly perfect fit on their top line with Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer. It would give that trio more star power to work with, and this is essential if the Devils want to keep up with top Eastern Conference teams like the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Yet, Duchene could also make some real magic with star center Jack Hughes, so he could fit in either spot in their top six.
Duchene has shown this season that he is still a valuable asset, so the Devils would likely need to part ways with their 2023 first-round pick and a notable prospect like Shakir Mukhamadullin. With that, if the Predators retain a good portion of Duchene’s salary, it could be enough for them to also land a young forward like Jesper Boqvist.
Like the Devils, the Hurricanes are gearing up to be major buyers at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. It is quite easy to understand why, as only Boston has more points than them at this point of the season. With that, Max Pacioretty is out for the remainder of the season, so they very well could look to replace him through the trade market. When looking at potential replacements, Duchene stands out as a very solid one.
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The Hurricanes’ biggest need right now is a second-line center. After losing Vincent Trocheck through free agency, they have yet to find a legitimate replacement for him. Players like Paul Stastny and Jesperi Kotkaniemi have not been answers for the role, so bringing in a quality center like Duchene could be something that Carolina seriously considers.
A trade centering around Duchene would need to include the Hurricanes’ 2023 first-round pick and a notable prospect like Scott Morrow. Furthermore, with salary retained, the Predators could also land Ryan Suzuki in this deal.
Detroit Red Wings
Due to a very hot stretch of play, the Detroit Red Wings are right back in the playoff race and trail the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders by just three points for the final wild card spot. Due to this, we could see them be buyers rather than sellers at the 2023 Trade Deadline. If this is the avenue general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman elects to go down, perhaps they could end up making a push for Duchene.
The Red Wings have several pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) forwards like Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, and Oskar Sundqvist, so the Red Wings could be open to the prospect of bringing in a top-six forward with term like Duchene. The veteran could be a perfect fit on Detroit’s first line with Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin, as he would provide them with another star to work with. Furthermore, he also could be an option for their second line with Michael Rasmussen and Andrew Copp. In either scenario, Detroit’s top six would improve immensely, and it could be enough for them to make the postseason again.
If the Predators retain 25% of Duchene’s salary, the Red Wings would likely need to give up their 2023 first-round pick (top-12 protected), William Wallinder, and Amadeus Lombardi.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the Predators end up trading Duchene at the deadline from here. If they do in fact shop him, do not be surprised to see these three clubs enter the mix for his services.