At the beginning of the 2017-18 season, expectations were high for the Nashville Predators and the Ottawa Senators. The Predators were just coming off of their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final and the Senators were one goal away from meeting them there, taking the Pittsburgh Penguins to game seven in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Colorado Avalanche, on the other hand, were coming off of their worst finish in franchise history with just 48 points.
With the Senators and Predators looking for the missing pieces on their rosters to bolster their lineups and the Avalanche looking to retool their own, the trip of teams managed to pull off a blockbuster trade that sent long-time Av Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators.
One year later, here’s how the trade has played out for the teams and pieces involved.
The three-way trade came after 18 months of speculation and rumours surrounding Duchene, who requested a trade from the organization nearly a year prior. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic told reporters throughout the entire process that he wouldn’t take less than Duchene was worth and proved that with the return from his top centreman.
Related: Duchene Finally Traded
After the trade, Duchene explained his reasoning behind asking for the move from the team that drafted him to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, “I wanted to play playoff hockey. I’ve got eight playoff games to my name right now and that’s not where I want to be at this point of my career. I only get one shot at this. I get to play this game for however long my body lets me play it and I felt I wanted to let Joe know it was time to move on.” (From: “Matt Duchene thrilled at getting a chance to win with Senators” – Ottawa Sun – 11/06/2017).
Here are the full details of the trade from Nov. 5, 2017:
To OTT: Centreman Matt Duchene
To NSH: Centreman Kyle Turris
To COL: Conditional first-round pick (OTT), 2019 third-round pick (OTT), Shane Bowers and Andrew Hammond from Ottawa; 2018 second-round pick (NSH), Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev from Nashville
Senators Get Their Number One Centre in Duchene
Duchene had high hopes when he arrived in Ottawa and so did the team. This was a team that took Sidney Crosby and the Penguins to not one, but two overtimes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Penguins went on to win the Cup for the second year in a row and the Senators felt ready. Their time was now.
Upon his arrival, the Senators were 6-3-5 and while that wasn’t the best start to the season, they were getting points in the majority of their games, which is important. Duchene was ready to get started, “To be here with this team that I believe in a lot already it’s very special. There’s going to be an adjustment period. I just want to bring my best to this team and hopefully be part of a long playoff run.” (From: “Matt Duchene thrilled at getting a chance to win with Senators” – Ottawa Sun – 11/06/2017).
As optimistic as Duchene and the Senators were, it didn’t pan out on the ice for them. The team finished the season 28-43-11 and 30th in the league. For Duchene, his hope for playoff hockey was lost in his first season in Ottawa. To make matters worse, the Avalanche earned the final wild-card spot facing the Predators in Round 1, although they lost the series, 4-2.
The 2017-18 season was so bad for the Senators that the team has now decided to rebuild, proving that by sending long-time captain Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks. For Duchene, he didn’t want to endure a rebuild with the Avalanche, only to be sent to a team about to start a rebuild.
Individually though, Duchene has been solid for Ottawa. After joining the team last year, he had 49 points in 63 games to close out the season. Through the team’s first 13 games this season, Duchene has collected four goals and 12 points.
Looking back at the trade, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has no regrets and is still happy with the trade, “[I’m] very happy with how it turned out. Obviously, from a team [perspective], we would have liked to have more success, but the player is exactly as advertised. He’s a No. 1 center, he can carry the load, he can play against the other team’s best lines.”
He continues, “We’re really finding out that Matt Duchene is really a complete player, and as a human being, I can’t say enough great things about him.”
Duchene is currently in the last year of his deal, which may be troubling for Senators fans. He made it obvious in Denver that he wants a chance at the Stanley Cup and it’s very likely that he will test free agency this offseason. If that’s the case, Ottawa would have sent their haul away for a centreman for two years of NHL basement hockey.
Turris Gives Nashville a Solid One-Two Punch
A favourite of Senators fans, Kyle Turris went from a team that almost went to the Final in 2017-18 to the team that did. The biggest difference is that the Predators remained a contender after the trade. The team won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team in the regular season, finishing 53-18-11 with 117 points.
Turris found being traded after the start of the season to be “a difficult transition,” but collected 13 goals and 42 points in 63 games after being sent to Music City. He added 17 power play points (PPP) post-trade, that alone tying his career high, on top of his four PPPs with the Senators. The former third-overall pick was also a plus-22 with the Predators, after starting the year a minus-three in Ottawa.
Playing with Nashville, there’s a lot less pressure on the New Westminster, British Columbia native. In Canada’s capital, Turris was thrust into a number-one centreman role even though he’s a second-line centre at best. With the Predators, Turris plays on the second line behind Ryan Johansen at even-strength and on the power play, giving Nashville solid one-two punch down the middle in front of Nick Bonino on the third line.
As soon as the trade was complete, Turris signed a six-year extension worth $6 million annually, and many presumed that the dollar amount was his reason for being sent out of Ottawa. That includes Turris. After the trade, the centreman told reporters, “It’s tough because I think management did want to sign me, but I think that the owner didn’t. And that was his decision.”
The Predators are off to a great start again this season. Through their first 13 games, the club is 10-3-0 and Turris has been solid as well, collecting two goals and nine points. Though the Predators gave up a second-round pick, a highly touted prospect and another young player, they are doing more than fine after the Duchene trade. The club should be a contender for the Cup again this year and Turris will be a major part in that run.
Colorado Gets the Haul They Were Waiting For
Most organizations would be in shambles after trading away a top-line centreman. That hasn’t been the case for the Avalanche, though. The Avs went from the bottom of the NHL to the playoffs and now have one of the best lines in the NHL with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. A few months after the trade, last season’s MVP finalist MacKinnon provided his thoughts on the transaction.
“It did a lot. There’s nothing wrong with Dutchy wanting to leave. I think it’s fair. He’s been eight, nine years in this league, and it wasn’t like a crazy breakup or anything. He went about it really good this season. But obviously, we knew he wanted to leave. Now we have everybody here that wants to be here, which is great.
He continues, “I think we’re on our way. If Dutchy was here, I’d think we’d be in a good spot as well. He’s a really good player and obviously, it’s nice to get [defenceman Samuel Girard, acquired in the Duchene deal] on the back end. He’s a great defenceman.”
MacKinnon calls out the solid acquisition of Girard, but the Avalanche got a whole lot more than just the former first-rounder.
Shane Bowers was the Senators 28th overall pick in 2017. They didn’t hold on to him for very long and Avalanche fans should be very happy about that. The season of the trade, Bowers played for Boston University along with Senators 2018 fourth-overall pick Brady Tkachuk.
After being named to the Hockey East’s all-rookie team in his freshman year, Bowers had no intention of slowing down. His sophomore season saw the prospect collect 17 goals in 40 games, leading all 18-year-olds in scoring and tying for fourth in goals among players under 21. In comparison to Tkachuk, Bowers had nine more goals and one more point to finish the year.
For now, Bowers is back at university and looking towards the 2019-20 season to make the jump to the NHL. The team has solid defensive and goaltending, but need secondary scoring. The young centre looks to provide just that in the near future. He will also likely be a star for Team Canada at the World Junior Championship.
After leading the Senators through a historic run in the 2014-15 season, there hasn’t been much else of note for the goaltender. That run saw the “Hamburgler” go 10-1-1 to start his career, and Hammond became the second goalie in history to let in two or fewer goals in his first 12 starts. He went 20-1-2 with the Senators that year and led them to a playoff spot after injuries to Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.
After the trade, Hammond only played in one regular season game for the Avalanche, a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and then was forced into three playoff games against the Predators. He came into one after an injury to Semyon Varlamov, stopping all eight shots he faced. He won the next start 2-1, making 44 saves before getting blown out 5-0 the following game.
Hammond walked into free agency and picked up a one-year deal with the Minnesota Wild for $650,000 and is currently the starter for the AHL’s Iowa Wild.
Sam Girard has had the biggest impact early on for the Avalanche. On a defensive corps that didn’t have much behind Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie, Girard has worked his way onto the top pairing for the Avs. A top pairing that the Denver Post’s Mike Chamber’s calls a perfect defensive pairing, a big, in-your-face defenseman and a small, skilled, puck-moving defenseman. (From: “Chambers: Erik Johnson and Sam Girard are a perfect pairing for the Avalanche” – Denver Post – 10/07/18).
Speaking to Chambers, Johnson raves about Girard’s ability, “He’s so skilled, so smart. You maybe worry about a guy that size playing D but he’s so smart and elusive. He knows when the forecheck is coming. He knows when to dip out of traffic when he’s in trouble. He’s got a really good head on his shoulders.” (From: “Chambers: Erik Johnson and Sam Girard are a perfect pairing for the Avalanche” – Denver Post – 10/07/18).
At just 20 years old, Girard looks to be a fixture on the Avalanche’s top line for years to come. So far in his young career, he has five goals and 28 points in 87 games between the Predators and Avs, including 15 points coming on the power play. As the Roberval, Quebec native continues to improve and enter his prime, Girard is a piece of this trade that will keep paying off for Colorado.
Like Hammond, Vladislav Kamenev’s time with the Avalanche hasn’t gone exactly to plan. In his first game with his new team, he took a hit from Brooks Orpik, breaking his arm. He returned later in the season, playing just two more games, recording no points in that season.
This season, he has appeared in nine games with just one goal and two points. Kamenev was the Predators’ second-round pick in 2014, at 42nd overall. The 22-year-old has a lot to prove still, but Colorado seems to have faith. Currently, they have him on the second line between Alexander Kerfoot and Colin Wilson. Now that line just needs to find it’s offensive touch.
Other than the injury, Kamenev hasn’t really been able to settle in anywhere for the past few seasons. Since 2015, the Russian centre has played in games for the Milwaukee Admirals, San Antonio Rampage, Colorado Eagles, Predators and Avalanche. Now that he’s getting a good look in Denver, the team hopes that he finds his stride.
The first-round conditional pick from Ottawa in this trade became a 2019 pick when the Senators drafted Brady Tkachuk fourth overall in 2018. The condition was that the Sens could either send their 2018 or 2019 pick to Colorado. By using the pick on the feisty winger, the pick shifted to next year’s draft. They will also be able to use the Senators’ third-round pick in the coming draft.
The only draft pick used so far was Nashville’s second-rounder in 2018. In fact, the Avalanche traded the pick to the Penguins for third and fifth-round picks (64th and 146th) in the 2018 draft. They selected goaltender Justus Annunen and defender Danilla Zhuravlyov with those two picks.
Annunen played for Team Finland at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, recording a 2.00 goals against average and a .914 save percentage en route to capturing the gold medal. Zhuravlyov also played in that championship for Team Russia as an assistant captain, collecting five assists through five games. That tied for second on the team for points, was first in assists and led the team’s defenders in points. While both prospects are currently playing hockey in their respective countries, they look promising so far for the Avalanche.
Questions Remaining from the Trade
The biggest question for the Duchene trade will not be answered until the 2019 NHL draft. With the Senators selecting Tkachuk in the first round in 2018, they gave up their 2019 first-round pick to the Avalanche. What’s worse for the Senators, who are in their first year of a rebuild, is that they effectively removed themselves from the Jack Hughes race by doing so.
Hughes is expected by many to be the first-overall pick in the 2019 Draft. In 60 games, Hughes put up 116 points in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, just one point shy of the record set by Toronto Maple Leaf Auston Matthews. He also had 15 points at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, winning the tournament, and 12 points in seven games at the IIHF World Men’s U18 Championship. Dorion should hope that he knew what he was doing when he took his team out of the running for this young star.
On top of the first-round pick in 2019, the Avalanche also have the third-round pick which will remain to be seen what the Avs can turn that pick into.
Another big question goes back to the Senators. Matt Duchene is in the final year of his contract and made it known in Colorado that he wants to play playoff hockey. Will he re-sign with the Senators or test free agency and head to a contender? Or possibly even go back to Colorado? On Oct. 26, Duchene and the Senators headed to the Pepsi Center in Colorado for the first time since the trade. Duchene scored twice in the game and after raised eyebrows speaking to reporters.
“I will never cut ties here. Denver will always be a home for me and I could definitely see myself coming back here one day. Whether it’s to play or to retire here, it’s definitely in the realm of possibilities, absolutely.” (From: “Duchene’s love affair with Denver continues: ‘I could definitely see myself coming back here’” – Ottawa Sun – 10/27/2018).
Duchene’s tenure may be very short-lived if he decides to head to free agency this offseason and if that is the case, was it worth it for the haul the Senators gave up?
Who Is Winning the Trade so Far?
There are still questions remaining from the trade, but it’s hard not to view the Colorado Avalanche as the clear-cut winners. Even the day after the trade, they seemed to come out on top. After the transaction, the Senators and Avs have seemed to switch places in the league. The Sens fell in the standings, finishing second-to-last and have now begun a rebuild while Colorado made the playoffs after finishing dead last in the NHL the year before. This season the Avalanche are a force to be reckoned with, especially their top line.
Sakic’s patience in this trade paid off big-time and seems like it will continue to pay off for years to come. While Girard has made an immediate impact, Kamenev is still coming into his own, and Bowers is at least a year away from the NHL. That’s not even looking at how the draft picks will pay off. The Avalanche can afford Hammond not really paying off in this deal.
Nashville, on the other hand, remains a team very similar to before. They are still a threat in the league, they have arguably the best defensive unit in the NHL and Girard likely wouldn’t have factored into that mix as well as he does in Colorado. They did add a solid second line centre in Turris, but it’s no comparison to what Sakic and the Avalanche walked away with.