The NHL Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the Nashville Predators are in the market for a forward. The Mission: Matt Duchene.
It has been an up and down season for the home team this year. Much of it is well documented. The games missed by key players due to injuries. Special teams play that is rather, well, powerless. Still, the Nashville Predators are in the hunt for the playoffs and a Central Division crown. In order to make it where they really want to be – the Stanley Cup Final – the Predators will need some help.
That help seems to be on its way in the form of one Matt Duchene, a player the Predators attempted to acquire last year. Instead, Nashville landed Kyle Turris while shipping Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev to Colorado, and Ottawa obtained Duchene. While it was a good trade at the time, the results are not panning out this season.
With Turris on the roster last season, both Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala reached 25 and 23 goals, respectively. Turris even gained 13 goals and 42 points while with the Predators last season. It worked great, until the playoffs. The trio gained only 11 points in the postseason, with Fiala having 3 goals. They had 4 of the team’s total 41 playoff goal. Not the scoring depth they witnessed during the season.
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This season, the struggles continue. Turris missed 25 games, which does not help team chemistry. Fiala has yet to meet expectation set by last season’s performance. So far, he has only 10 goals in 62 games. Smith has 16 goals but has only 2 in the last 17 games.
Like we stated, the team is in need of help in scoring. And, Duchene is available. The Ottawa Senators announced they will be moving their star center as the two sides have not reached a contract extension. Duchene has 27 goals and 31 assists on the season, which would lead the Predators in total points if he were on the roster.
Interesting fact: Matt Duchene owns a townhouse in Nashville…
…and it is not a short-term vacation rental. At least not yet.
For the Predators to acquire Duchene, there will be a cost. Possibly a significant one at that. When asking our friends at SensShot, the FanSided NHL site for the Senators, they jokingly said they would take “a paperclip and a bag of gum” at this point. Given the team’s ownership, we can understand why.
The Senators are desperate to trade Duchene. They are holding him out of games for “rest.” In other words, they don’t want their product damaged before a transaction is finalized.
The cost really comes down to how long the Nashville Predators can keep the center. If the teams can reach an agreement and Duchene be placed on the Predators’ roster before the deadline, they can sign him to an 8-year contract, according to the CBA. If this happens, general manager David Poile would need to send Ottawa quite a package.
Now, this is just my opinion. Fiala has struggled but may find better success in a new place. While I would love to see him stay in Nashville, the Predators have Eeli Tolvanen in waiting. With his promise, I do not see the team giving up on their prized prospect.
Fiala is a great fit for Ottawa. First of all, he is only 22 years old and has a 20 goal season under his belt. With Brady Tkachuk on the roster, Fiala would add another young scorer to their roster. Furthermore, Fiala is an RFA at the season’s end. The Senators have more than $34 million in cap space this offseason, making Fiala easier to sign. And, they get a pick if he declines to stay. It would work out well.
Craig Smith will be mentioned, but the team would only have him under control for one season. Smith is a free agent after next year. The Senators could sign him, but Smith has an option to walk away from the team. Not the best scenario for Ottawa.
The Senators also need help on defense. In order to keep the Stanley Cup window open as long as possible, the Predators will not let go of a top-four defenseman or Dante Fabbro. I can see them moving P.K. Subban next season, not now. The next best option is Alexandre Carrier, who has some NHL experience, is 22 years old, and has three seasons of 20+ points in the AHL.
As for the picks, the Nashville Predators do not have a 2nd round selection this season, and will not give up another pick without one in return. Swapping the picks in this scenario helps both teams. The Predators send a first-round selection to the Senators, who do not have one this season. While it will not be a high pick, it is better than nothing. The sixth-round pick to the Senators fills another void for them as they are rebuilding.
Fact is this is all speculation. Odds are Fiala is part of any deal for Duchene, though I would not be shocked to see Smith traded either. I honestly do not see Poile trading Tolvanen or Fabbro at this point. With contract issues looming, these players will be key to future success.
But, the acquisition of Duchene would do something amazing for Nashville. This:
Forsberg – Johansen – Arvidsson
Smith – Duchene – Jarnkrok
Sissons – Turris – Hartman
Boyle – Bonino – Grimaldi
Now those are some rather impressive lines, in my opinion.