Blue Jackets Winners With or Without Matt Duchene

The big question in the hockey world is, where will Matt Duchene end up?

The rumors of Duchene’s departure have swirled for over a year now. Many assumed that it was just a matter of time before GM Joe Sakic pulled the trigger on a trade. But as we know, nothing has happened as of yet. Reports suggest that the price to acquire Duchene is astronomical. If reports are true, teams aren’t willing to pay the hefty price.

Now the question on everyone’s mind is, will the Avalanche even trade Duchene?

The Real Takeaway

From a Blue Jackets perspective, that isn’t the most important takeaway from this situation. The fact that the Blue Jackets are even in this discussion to start with is a great sign of where the franchise is going.

It was just a few short seasons ago that things in Columbus were a mess. The team suffered many losing seasons with seemingly no end in sight. But the tide started turning when the management team led by John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen took over. Outside of a dreadful season in 2015-16, the Blue Jackets have experienced the feeling of winning.

The impact of this cannot be understated. Although the Blue Jackets haven’t experienced victory in a playoff series to date, they are in a place they’ve never been in before. Columbus is now a desirable destination in the NHL. Players rave about how great the city is. It’s still a bit of a hidden gem in the league. Once the team starts winning consistently in the playoffs, it won’t be hidden for long.

Columbus Wins No Matter What

Let’s spin this back to the Duchene situation. The fact that the Blue Jackets are even in this discussion speaks volumes to how far the franchise has come since 2012. This was never a possibility in the midst of all the losing. It was sell, sell, sell. Now, the Blue Jackets are in a position of strength. They can look to add. But they can pick their spots, especially if the price is too high.

This means that no matter what happens here, whether Duchene comes to the Blue Jackets or not, Columbus is the winner in this situation. They will either get a player who will boost their top-6 at a reasonable price or they won’t overpay the Avalanche and mortgage the future. If the latter happens, the Blue Jackets can explore other, more affordable options or they can wait until the season.

The Blue Jackets have control of the situation. The pressure is squarely on the Avalanche, especially if Duchene is upset and requests a trade. Think if this situation carries on how much of a distraction that would be. How long can the Avalanche hold on to this player and have the endless questions swirl over them? That could drive the price down to acquire him. Regardless, the Blue Jackets are in the stronger position. They can sit back and wait to see if acquiring him becomes the ideal play.

NHL Draft, Jarmo Kekalainen, Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jackets sign Jacob Graves
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen will complete a trade only in the right situation, making the Blue Jackets the team in a position of strength.

If the Blue Jackets do not land Duchene, there’s no reason to be upset over it. It means keeping your team in tact and having future options if an opportunity becomes available.

One team finished fourth in the league in 2016-17. The other team finished dead last. If you’re a Blue Jackets fan, rejoice that the team is in a good place. So long as they don’t overpay in a trade, they’ll come out of this as winners, regardless if a deal happens or not. The fact that they’re in this place loaded with young talent is the more important takeaway. It allows them opportunities otherwise not available to them, including contending for a Stanley Cup.

If a Duchene deal doesn’t happen for the Blue Jackets, don’t sweat it. They’re right where they’re supposed to be anyway.