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31 Takes: Contract demands make it even smarter for Senators to trade Duchene

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Around mid-January, it was reported that Ottawa was angling to table a hefty offer for Matt Duchene: an eight-year deal with an AAV of $8 million.

That’s a lot of money and term for a guy who just turned 28 and hasn’t scored more than 59 points in five years (though he’ll almost certainly do it in this contract year). His relative underlying numbers are good, albeit on a team that is absolutely terrible.

Overall this is a good-but-not-great player on the wrong side of the aging curve. Ottawa will probably have to overpay to get anyone to sign there, and that’s especially true of higher-end guys who will have a number of options. And make no mistake, giving a guy who’s 43rd in scoring over the last five years $8 million a season until he’s 36 is an overpay. That AAV would tie him for 23rd in the league among forwards, and he would decline sharply over the course of the deal.

That’s more than fair money, and you’d think everyone would understand that, even if Duchene is having a great year for a team in the midst of yet another lost season. So, when TSN’s Darren Dreger reported this week that “If Eugene Melynk doesn’t come off $8 million, Matt Duchene is not staying in Ottawa,” it was easy to be taken aback.

On the one hand, that might be Duchene really reaching on an overpay-type ask. That demand could be the equivalent of saying, “Yeah I’ll stay in Ottawa for $9 million,” or something because that extra money above and beyond his actual value is the cost of knowing he’s gonna be on a losing team forever. On the other hand, he might actually think he’s worth $9 million.

And the fact is that Ottawa is going to have to overpay people next season (and likely beyond) just to get to the cap floor. They have just $44.75 million committed to 14 players for next year right now, and might have to spend an additional $13 million to get to next year’s potential floor. That, sadly, includes two IR guys in Clarke MacArthur and Marian Gaborik who are never going to play again but do make a combined $9.525 million against the cap next year. Model franchise, these Senators.

So they have to take on some big money. But Duchene shouldn’t be that guy. The haul you could likely get for a rental like Duchene is something along the lines of a first-round pick, an NHLer (preferably a decent-but-declining player on a bad-money deal who has a bit of term, also known as the kind of player the Senators trade for almost exclusively), and a good prospect or two. Taking back the bad money makes such a trade even easier to complete and could lead to additional pieces being thrown in.

But the ultimate point here is that the Senators have a pretty good farm system, though not as good as it should be, and no first-round pick this year. The idea of keeping Duchene would have been nice, but if he won’t even take an overpay of as much as one-third, you gotta trade him. And you’ll get a lot back that helps you continue to scrape along at the bottom of the league with a potential lottery pick next year, plus something from a contender now.

And if that means you also can’t keep Mark Stone, because he doesn’t want to be the only good offensive player on the team next year, well, that’s probably another first-round pick and some prospects in your war chest.

Then this summer you throw $3.5 million at a few free agents who are worth $2.5 million and you’re pretty close to the salary floor again, and on a path to continue the rebuild while you market around Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk.

The Senators are bad and were going to be bad with or without overpaying Duchene (and Stone). Now you get the chance to say you gave a more-than-market-value offer, and he didn’t accept it, so you had to trade him.

Which should have been the only thing you ever planned to do in the first place.

The Ottawa Senators should see Matt Duchene’s salary demands as a blessing. (Getty)
The Ottawa Senators should see Matt Duchene’s salary demands as a blessing. (Getty)

31 Takes

Anaheim Ducks: Hey remember when the Ducks weren’t gonna fire Randy Carlyle in-season? Well, this happened. Anaheim is now 2-4-1 with a minus-12 goal difference (14 for, 26 against) and minus-65 shot difference (153 for, 218 against) since Bob Murray said he won’t can the worst coach in hockey.

Arizona Coyotes: I guess you can’t just fold up the tents for the last 30 games, but at the same time, these guys aren’t playing for anything so why stress “intensity,” y’know?

Boston Bruins: Saw some “The Bruins shouldn’t trade for Panarin” takes this past week and jeez, you wonder what team these people have been watching. They can’t score with Bergeron and Co. off the ice. Haven’t been able to for two years. Pretty simple fix for a team that doesn’t have a huge window to win.

Buffalo Sabres: Remember when these guys were first place in the league?

Calgary Flames: AYFKM?

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Carolina Hurricanes: I’m gonna say it takes a six-game winning streak at some point to get these guys in. They might have it in them. Maybe not. I dunno.

Chicago: Brent Seabrook wouldn’t waive his no-move clause to allow Stan Bowman to trade him. The problem with the idea is that someone would have to want to trade for him as well.

Colorado Avalanche: We’re about two losses away from being able to pull the plug on these guys, right? Like, you gotta figure they’re toast this year if they can’t put something together quick here.

Columbus Blue Jackets: How many more losses in short order before they just make the trades? It’s something you have to start thinking about now.

Dallas Stars: How bad does a playoff series against the Predators go for the Stars? You gotta think pretty bad.

Detroit Red Wings: I keep harping on it but the headlines out of Detroit about this team have been like this all year. They have the fourth-worst point total in the league.

Edmonton Oilers: In my opinion it’s not a good idea to give up four power plays in a game and… what’s that? They gave up four power-play GOALS? Huh. …….. Huh.

Florida Panthers: We gotta stop doing this for every team that’s fewer than 10 points out.

Los Angeles Kings: Yeah it was a brutal collapse, but what do you expect from these guys at this point?

Minnesota Wild: If you’re the Wild, you’re a classic trade-deadline “hold.” You can’t add anyone who’s going to make you good enough to compete in the division, but you can’t subtract without falling out of the race altogether. No one will accept that in this market, even if they should tank.

Montreal Canadiens: Koktaniemi is getting very managed minutes, but he’s doing a lot with them as a very young 18-year-old.

Nashville Predators: Pretty helpful that the Preds are getting more depth scoring these days. Goes a long way.

New Jersey Devils: Starting to think Nico Hischier is about two years away from being a high-end talent. He does it all.

New York Islanders: Yeah, but do they?

New York Rangers: Brutal headline hahaha.

Ottawa Senators: These guys now have four regulation wins in their last 25 games.

Philadelphia Flyers: Man if they win six or seven more games in this streak they might solidify a playoff spot here.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Pens lose the trade!!!

San Jose Sharks: All hockey should be 3-on-3.

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St. Louis Blues: This might be the quietest 6-2-1 run in the league this season. They’re still not particularly close to a playoff spot, and would get smoked by anyone they play. Fun situation.

Tampa Bay Lightning: They have 80 points in the standings already. There are 30 games left in the season. What the hell, man?

Toronto Maple Leafs: Gotta say Muzzin looked real, real good in his Leafs home debut.

Vancouver Canucks: This is the most “manufactured hockey media outrage” thing I’ve seen all season, and I’ve seen Brian Burke talk about the Hurricanes on multiple occasions.

Vegas Golden Knights: Not sure what’s going on with these guys but they gotta figure it out.

Washington Capitals: I guess I think Todd Rierden is doing a perfectly good job. This wasn’t a particularly great team last season and they caught fire at the exact right time. Like, we’re talking about these guys maybe being a little disappointing, but they’re two losses worse than they were at the same point last year. We’re mad about two or three bounces? I dunno man.

Winnipeg Jets: Boy, Kevin Hayes would be a real nice add for the Jets.

Gold Star Award

I kinda don’t want to give this to Jack Roslovic because getting a hat trick and four points against the Ducks is more like two goals and half an assist, but I don’t think they’ll give him an official asterisk.

Minus of the Weekend

John Gibson’s team seems dead set on blowing up his Vezina candidacy. In the games sandwiching the All-Star break, he’s given up 11 on 45.

Play of the Weekend

This guy is just on a different planet.

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Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User “aybrowne” with a good take.

Couturier

for

Kerfoot

COL 1st
OTT 3rd
+?

Signoff
Now how could you do such a thing? (Good boy, don’t stop now.) Bad dog! I condemn you to hell!

Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

All stats via Corsica unless otherwise noted.

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