The first big trade of the NHL trade deadline has finally happened. On Friday morning, Matt Duchene was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. For Duchene, it will be a quick walk down the hall as the Senators are set to take on the Blue Jackets in game action on Friday night.
Darren Dreger was the first to report the trade and offered details to come. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic then confirmed the trade and some of the pieces going back when he said, “Prospects Abramov and Davidsson part of the deal, but more coming from
#CBJ”. Pierre LeBrun finally gave all the pieces in a tweet that came a few minutes after the deal was announced.
Confirming Matt Duchene has been traded to Columbus. Details to come.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 22, 2019
As interesting as this trade is, what might be more interesting is what it means for the rest of the NHL, specifically the Blue Jackets who potentially have their own internal house cleaning to do and debate runs rampant about their own star forward, Artemi Panarin.
Duchene Starts the Ball Rolling
This Duchene trade was a long time coming and the Blue Jackets were long rumored to be in the conversation. Looking for a player that could help in the event the team lost Panarin, Duchene will fill in nicely. Whether or not the Blue Jackets look to extend him on a contract is unknown at this point but Nick Kypreos tweeted there have been no talks on that front between the Blue Jackets organization and the former Senator.
With Duchene now in tow and playing in the lineup for the Blue Jackets tonight, the first matter of business might be first asking if Panarin wants to reconsider signing knowing Duchene is with the team. If not, Columbus now has the confidence to move Panarin before Monday’s trade deadline comes and goes. They might choose to keep him, but considering the potential first-rounders they gave up to grab Duchene, Panarin could easily be used to get one of those draft picks back.
As Portzline tweeted just minutes ago, “Interesting that
#CBJ, by acquiring Duchene, have increased Panarin’s value on the market – elite player scarcity. No guarantees Blue Jackets trade him, of course, but they are in a better position to create demand among elite teams looking for punch.”
Certainly, GM Jarmo Kekäläinen just made the trade market that much more interesting and took a progressive approach to give himself some leverage to make a move.
Now What for Columbus?
While Pierre LeBrun tweeted that Columbus doesn’t feel pressure to move Panarin should a team not step up in the next few days, the expectation is that the Blue Jackets will likely feel comfortable flipping him to another organization now that they have a piece in Duchene to keep them competitive as the organization heads toward the postseason. Prior to this move, for Columbus, that had to have been a huge concern.
For months, the team was likely asking itself, ‘how do we remove our best offensive weapon but also justify not getting anything in return should he walk away in free agency?’ Duchene partially answers that question.
What will be interesting to see is how competitive the Blue Jackets actually think they can be and how much the team can come out ahead in any deal.
With Duchene now off the board and Panarin’s value already going up, Panarin already arguably held more value than Duchene in trade. This deal now sets the market and if Columbus moves Panarin but grabs a ton of excellent prospects and draft picks, fans in Columbus might not feel so bad about letting him leave in free agency with Duchen left to pick up the slack. And, should Duchene leave over the summer, at least the Blue Jackets will have something to show for it, can trade his rights at the draft and gave themselves a chance at the postseason.
The only issue for the Blue Jackets now is whether or not Duchene becomes a rental or if they can convince him not to test free agency. It appears the team will certainly try to see if he’d like to stick around and he’ll be a less expensive option than Panarin would have been had he chosen to stay with the Blue Jackets.
Needless to say, the action in Columbus certainly isn’t done. Could the team end up with both players? At this point, who knows?
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”