Updates on Duchene and Kessel – July 17, 2017
Some recent speculation on Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene & Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently listed the New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins as five possible destinations for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene. He suggests it’s possible a contender seeking a second-line center could agree to meet the Avs’ reported high asking price to land him.
Boylen notes the Avs rejected the Isles offer last month of defenseman Travis Hamonic (now with the Calgary Flames) and a first-round pick. The Isles could be reluctant to part with promising forward Mathew Barzal and instead prefer moving Brock Nelson, though neither satisfies the Avs need for a defenseman. They do have some first-round picks to put into play.
The Kings lack an established young top-four blueliner that they can afford to part with as trade bait. The Blue Jackets could offer up defenseman Ryan Murray but they might have to add a quality winger, such as Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner or Oliver Bjorkstrand, into the deal.
The Hurricanes aren’t likely to part with defensemen Jaccob Slavin, Noah Hanifin or Justin Faulk. Brett Pesce or Jake Bean could interest the Avs, but the question then becomes where Duchene, who has two years left on his contract, fits into the Hurricanes roster and how much it’ll cost to re-sign him.
As for the Penguins, Olli Maatta might be enticing for the Avs. Derrick Pouliot is another option, though he’s struggled to establish himself at the NHL level. Young forwards Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary could also be attractive to the Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is merely a summary of Boylen’s piece. I recommend you follow the link above and read the entire thing, as he’s done a good job attempting to break down what it could cost those five clubs to land Duchene. Of these, I think the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes have the necessary depth in young assets to acquire the Avs center, but of course that depends on their willingness to meet the Avs’ asking price. So far, none of them are keen to do that.
The Blue Jackets reportedly included Murray in a pitch for Duchene. However, the Avalanche apparently don’t see him as an established top-four blueliner.
Hurricanes GM Ron Francis made it clear he’s unwilling to part with assets for a player who could bolt via free agency in two years times. I can’t help but wonder if Francis would be more interested in Duchene if he were only a year away from free agency, as that would give him the opportunity to work out a possible “sign-and-trade” deal with the Avs.
I don’t doubt the Penguins have some interest. However, GM Jim Rutherford recently said he’s not pursuing an expensive center.
The Islanders could certainly use Duchene but I think they’re out after the Avs spurned their offer of Hamonic and a first.Having shipped Hamonic to the Flames, I don’t think they’ve got the necessary trade chip to pry Duchene out of Colorado.
As for the Kings, yes, they definitely need a second-line center like Duchene, but they lack sufficient assets (or sufficient salary cap space) to acquire him.
TSN: Craig Button recently dismissed talk of the Penguins possibly trading right wing Phil Kessel as “#FakeNews.” He notes Kessel helped the Pens win consecutive Stanley Cup championships, three Game Sevens and eight playoff rounds. Button also pointed out how Kessel bolstered the Penguins offense.
While he doesn’t dismiss the possibility that Kessel could be a salary-cap casualty down the road, a lot of things will have to happen before that takes place. While young forwards such as Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel are promising, Kessel is an established talent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The speculation of a Kessel trade was quickly dismissed by Penguins GM Jim Rutherford last week. Sure, you can’t rule anything out and some of the critiques about Kessel have some merit. But there’s also no denying how important he was to the Penguins over the last two seasons. He will remain a big part of their core going forward. Maybe in a few years he’ll become a cap casualty, but not now.