David Zalubowski/Associated Press
The NHL expansion draft has been completed, and so has the rookie draft. The first wave of free-agent signing is over, too, so that means that NHL has finally reached its offseason.
Yes, there are still trades to be made and free agents to be signed, but both of those are likely to come in slow drips, as the spigots have been turned to a nearly closed position.
The hottest name in the trade rumor mill—and perhaps the only one—is Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche.
Duchene’s name has been on the trade block since the in-season trade deadline, and general manager Joe Sakic is not proving to be an easy trade partner for any of the NHL teams that are interested.
Duchene had a disappointing season with 18 goals and 23 assists in 2016-17, but he was the No. 3 pick in the 2009 draft and has scored 20 goals or more during a season five times in his career.
NHL insider Elliotte Friedman was on Edmonton radio station CHED630 last week, and he pointed out that the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators are among the interested teams that would be willing to make a deal for Duchene (h/t Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey).
Here’s what Friedman said about the Blue Jackets and their chances of completing a Duchene deal:
“Duchene—some people rip the Avalanche and they say they’re being obstinate. Their perspective is—look, one of the guys Columbus was talking about was Ryan Murray. And I really don’t like where I’m going to go with this because I have a bad feeling it’s going to be totally misinterpreted because I don’t want to insult Ryan Murray. But the way Colorado looks at it is he is their fifth defenseman. ‘We’re not trading Matt Duchene for a fifth defenseman.'”
Chris Carlson/Associated Press
Friedman pointed out that the potential deal for Duchene with Nashville is likely to involve defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who had an excellent postseason for the Predators. The Preds may not want to part with Ekholm, and that could be a prime hold up to the deal. Ekholm scored a goal and had 10 assists in the playoffs, along with a plus-six rating.
The Boston Bruins have a need for a young forward who still has star potential, and that’s why they are interested in Duchene.
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch pointed out that the Bruins have had talks with the Avs about Duchene. The likelihood is that Colorado native Brandon Carlo is the subject of the talks with Boston.
Carlo had an impressive rookie season with the Bruins as captain Zdeno Chara’s partner, and he appears to have a bright future. Carlo scored six goals and 10 assists this season, and he also finished with an impressive plus-nine.
The Bruins also have several other promising young defensemen, including former Boston University star Charlie McAvoy, and general manager Don Sweeney has to decide if he wants to nurture and grow his young defensive crew or possibly move an asset to acquire talent in another area.
Rumors about Duchene for Carlo surfaced during the in-season trade deadline, and they are still lingering near the surface.