Matt Duchene to the Predators, from the Dept. of Obvious Fits

Greg Wyshynski

The Nashville Predators waived Mike Ribeiro on Friday, after he reportedly asked for a trade. Obviously it’s Nashville’s fault he has his worst points per game average since 2002 despite starting a league-high 50.3 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone …

Bye-bye.

Clearing Ribeiro’s salary opens up an even larger chunk of cap space for the Predators, as well as a roster spot at the forward spot. Which brings us to one of the most obvious bits of NHL matchmaking in recent memory: The Colorado Avalanche potentially sending center/winger Matt Duchene to the Predators.

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, who was recently admonished by Tyson Barrie for his Avalanche-rumormongering, pushed these whispers in the conversation this week:

Poile’s team’s performance over the next three weeks will likely drive his trade-deadline decisions. The GM obviously would not comment on any trade speculation, but other sources have suggested that the Preds have already checked in with the Colorado Avalanche regarding Duchene and will probably monitor that situation moving forward. The Preds just can’t resist the big fish, right?

Now, let’s inject some reality as well. A long list of teams have reportedly reached out to Avalanche GM Joe Sakic regarding Duchene. Second of all, do the Predators have the young, high-end defenseman the Avs would covet in return for Duchene? Third, it’s not a certainty that Sakic will even move Duchene before March. Perhaps he will decide instead that the blockbuster month of June is a better time to ramp up the auction on the 26-year-old center.

Let’s take those last points one by one.

1 – No, the Predators can’t resist a big fish, especially when that fish is a star center under contract through 2019 and looks great in a cowboy hat.

2 – According to Bob McKenzie, the price tag for Duchene is:

“If it’s three high-end pieces, we’re talking about a player that’s established in the NHL already – between 20-24 years of age – as well as a first-round pick, as well as a top prospect. If the young NHL isn’t established, if it’s all prospects, then the price goes up to those four high-end pieces.”

Yes, the Predators do have the young, high-end defenseman the Avs could covet in return for Duchene. The question is which ones they’d want to part with for Duchene, and which ones Joe Sakic would covet.

If you want established defensemen, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis are both 26. Ekholm has a wonderfully manageable cap hit ($3.75 million) through 2022, and Ellis is signed through 2019. (I’ve read some Predators fans thinking Roman Josi could go straight up for Duchene, but despite their recent success without him that’s a serious ante I might not make.)

If you want prospects, Samuel Girard is a blue-chip prospect in the QMJHL that projects to be an offensive force in the NHL. Dante Fabbro was taken No. 17 overall last summer.

From On The Forecheck, more Duchene matchmaking:

The Predators have the pieces to be in the conversation for Duchene. Dante Fabbro and the aforementioned Girard are two highly touted defense prospects in Nashville’s organization. They also have Vladislav Kamenev, the Predators #1 prospect, who recently made his NHL debut. It is unlikely that Poile would part with Kamenev, who is expected to be a 2nd line center in the near future, but Poile is not shy to make big splash trades.

The Predators probably have the pieces to make that work, depending on what the Avs want.

3 – If Sakic is going to move Duchene, better to do it now. There are some awfully thirsty teams – Montreal, Ottawa and Nashville – that view him as a major puzzle piece, and would be willing to part with multiple pieces to get him. And the Avalanche need multiple pieces.

Where do you think Duchene ends up?

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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