Avalanche acquire impressive assets in dealing Duchene
Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic will be judged as either being impressively shrewd or incredibly lucky in his handling of the Matt Duchene situation.
He was probably a combination of the two. But regardless of which assessment you believe, Sakic’s slow-play strategy in dealing Duchene paid off with a strong return for the center.
How many times have we heard over the last several months that Sakic was asking for too many assets in exchange for Duchene?
Sakic’s rivals and members of the media speculated no one would be willing to pay his asking price. It was said he wanted a prize, young defenseman, another quality young player, plus a firstand second-round draft pick. Too much, everyone said.
As the smoke cleared from Sunday night’s three-way trade between the Avalanche, Nashville Predators and Otta- wa Senators, what we see is Sakic sitting with a first-, second- and thirdround pick, a prize young defenseman (Samuel Girard), a former first-round pick (Shane Bowers), a desirable young center in Vladislav Kamenev and a credible NHL goalie (Andrew Hammond).
And what he gave up to get those assets was Duchene. Nothing else.
Undoubtedly, it will leak out over the next couple of days that Sakic turned down offers that some will believe were better.
That’s the way trading works, especially in this era of intense social media scrutiny.
But what is undeniable is that Sakic, despite all the criticism he received, got exactly what he wanted in this deal and more.
Sure, it was his good fortune that the Senators couldn’t re-sign Kyle Turris, which paved the way for this blockbuster swap. But timing is important in every deal. Some event happens, which opens a door, and quality general managers find a way to rush through that door. The door opened for Sakic, and he stepped through.
Every team received what it needed in the deal. The Predators are the instant winner because they put themselves in a much better position to win the Stanley Cup. The Ryan Johansen-Turris one-two center combination is preferable to the injury-created situation the Predators had during the Stanley Cup Final when it seemed like they were trying to battle the Pittsburgh Penguins with Colton Sissons leading the way at center.
But Sakic has the potential to be the biggest long-term winner because of the number of assets received.
Girard, 19, has shown high-end promise in the few games he has played for the Predators this season, and Kamenev, 21, has the potential long term to be as productive as Duchene. He had 21 goals in the American Hockey League last season and shows eight points in 10 games this season.
Bowers is a Boston University freshman. Too soon to project his future, but scouts believe he will play in the NHL.
We haven’t even discussed the draft picks yet.
After Colorado’s standings collapse last season and how slowly Sakic seemed to move on Duchene, some fans wondered how he kept his job. The distrust of Sakic started after his Ryan O’Reilly trade, which failed to yield the bounty that had been anticipated.
But Colorado ownership seemed to still trust Sakic, and maybe that trust wasn’t misguided. The Avalanche have looked sharper this season, posting an 8-6 record, 5-1 at home.
The present no longer looks bleak in Colorado, and the future seems more positive.
It will be a couple of seasons or longer before we truly know how this deal will benefit the Avalanche, but Sakic has every right to feel smug today.
Matt Duchene was one of the key players in a three-team trade Sunday. ISAIAH J. DOWNING/USA TODAY SPORTS