Latest Avalanche and Jets Speculation – August 12, 2017
Latest on Matt Duchene and a look at the contract status of Jets head coach Paul Maurice in your NHL rumor mill.
FANRAG SPORTS: Chris Nichols cites TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger’s Friday appearance on Buffalo’s WGR 550 discussing forward Matt Duchene and the Colorado Avalanche. Asked about the possibility of Duchene being dealt to the Sabres, Dreger didn’t dismiss the possibility, suggesting the 26-year-old might consider any option at this point.
Dreger thinks Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson, remains persistent in his belief the best move for his client is to get a deal done. He also wonders if perhaps the Duchene camp might stage a holdout from training camp next month to force the issue, though he’s not suggesting that will be the case.
NHL.COM: During his preview of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the upcoming season, Craig Merz noted their unsuccessful pursuit of Duchene earlier this summer. GM Jarmo Kekalainen told Merz if a player becomes available that could help the Jackets, they’ll consider the short- and long-term options. “We’re not going to sell all our assets to try and get better for this year or the next little while. We have to keep our long-term options in mind,” said Kekalainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen’s comments are similar to those made last month by Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. While the Avs rumored high asking price for Duchene is considered the biggest stumbling block in trade talks, his contract could also be a factor. If he had three years or more remaining on his deal perhaps clubs would be more willing to pay up for his services.
It’ll be interesting to see what Duchene does if he hasn’t been dealt when the Avs open training camp next month. So far, there’s no indication from his side suggesting he won’t report if he’s not moved by then.
As for Duchene to the Sabres, I don’t see them as a fit. It’s believed the Avs wants a young, established top-four defenseman as part of the return. Rasmus Ristolainen fits that description but the Sabres obviously aren’t parting with him. I doubt the Avs will have interest in oft-injured Zach Bogosian and the Sabres certainly won’t part with recently-acquired Marco Scandella.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Paul Wiecek wonders why the Jets haven’t re-signed head coach Paul Maurice to a contract extension. His current deal runs through 2017-18. At the season-ending press conference, Maurice said his usual contract talks take about 10 minutes while GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said he had full confidence in his coach.
With no word yet from the Jets on the subject, Wiecek speculates over the reasons behind the delay. It could be Maurice wants more money or term than the club is willing to give. Another could be he lacks confidence in the Jets’ goaltending. Wiecek said he’d heard rumors for months claiming Maurice was unhappy with the club’s lousy netminding and wanted to see what moves they’d make this summer to address the issue before committing to a new contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wiecek also notes the two sides might already have a deal worked out and could announce it before the season opens. If the rumors are true and Maurice isn’t happy with the Jets’ goaltending, he probably won’t consider this summer’s signing of free agent Steve Mason to be an upgrade. If Maurice hasn’t re-signed by the start of training camp, his long-term future with the club will become fodder for the rumor mill.