It seems that Matt Duchene will sign with the Nashville Predators this summer, which has gotten me thinking… did David Poile play the long game for his man?
I’ll start this off by saying that I’m a firm believer in the fact that Nashville Predators GM David Poile is a wizard. If you look at some of the moves he’s made during his career, I think that points proves itself…
- Predators send 31-year old Martin Erat and Michael Latta to Washington for Filip Forsberg
- Predators send D Shea Weber to Montreal for D P.K. Subban
- Predators send D Seth Jones to Columbus for C Ryan Johansen
To summarize – Poile trades a 31-year old forward who is past his prime for a young prospect named Filip Forsberg, who will become a 60 point winger by his 3rd year in the league.
Nashville unknowingly gets the best years of Weber’s career out of him, then trades him for a Norris-Trophy winning, All-Star defenseman named P.K. Subban.
Then, overflowing with defensive talent, Poile sends a young Seth Jones to Columbus for a 60-point center.
Poile’s track record speaks for itself. He has proven time and time again that he can maximize the talent on his roster in any way shape or form. Sure, Weber was still in his prime when he was traded. But since then, he’s only played 1 full season, and had tallied 39 less points than Subban.
Sure, Seth Jones has turned into a great defenseman in Columbus, and likely would’ve in Nashville too. But, at the time, the Predators already had Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, and Shea Weber. Meaning, Jones was looking at 3rd line ice time at best, for the foreseeable future.
Although all his moves aren’t big wins like the Forsberg trade, Poile has still proven that he can make a move, and come out the other side better for it.
The Duchene Debacle
For nearly two years now, there has been lingering hope for Predators fans that All-Star center Matt Duchene would sign with Nashville. For a while, it appeared it would be through a trade. However, when Duchene was playing for Colorado, they wanted too much in return.
So, Nashville settled for a three-way trade with Colorado and Ottawa.
- Nashville sends Samuel Girard, Vladislav Kamenev, and a 2018 2nd-round pick to the Avalanche.
- Ottawa sends Kyle Turris to the Predators, and 2018 1st and 2nd-round picks to the Avalanche
- Colorado sends Matt Duchene to Ottawa
Like I said, Poile’s prime target was Duchene, but he wasn’t willing to give up what Colorado GM Joe Sakic wanted in exchange.
The dust settles in November 2017, and Duchene begins with the Senators. He tallies 23 goals and 26 assists in 68 games that season. Then Duchene scores 27 goals and 31 assists in 50 games the following year, before being traded to Columbus.
In 23 games there, he records 4 goals and 8 assists.
Now we are at present day.
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19 months after that initial trade was made, Duchene is back on the market, now as a free agent. At the time of the trade, Duchene was playing under a 5-year, $30 million deal that he signed with Colorado back in 2014.
Now though, he’s up for a new deal and a new team.
Many believe that the Predators are now just days away from signing Duchene. That potential move was aided by last week’s Subban trade, that cleared $9 million in cap space. Similarly, many believe that Kyle Turris is on the way out, along with his $6 million cap hit.
If Nashville is able to dump Turris’ contract, that would give them just under $20 million in cap space to go after Duchene, extend captain Roman Josi, and likely go after another free agent forward.
So this is now where my long game conspiracy theory comes into play…
The Long Game?
In 2017, Poile wanted Duchene, but Colorado wanted too much. Instead of giving up on an All-Star center, Poile makes a 3-way trade that gets Duchene to a more trade-willing team.
Ottawa gets Duchene, but is in the middle of a massive rebuild. They would go on to make 13 trades between November 2017 and February 2019, when they ship Duchene to Columbus.
Columbus was originally in the market for Duchene when the first trade happened in 2017. But, like Nashville, they were scared off by Colorado’s asking price.
So what does Columbus do? They get him from the Senators for 2 prospects and 2 picks. Much better than what the Avalanche wanted.
Duchene finishes the 2018-2019 season with Columbus, but is now a free agent.
Those 5 skaters accounted for nearly a third of all Columbus goals last year.
Knowing that Columbus would have trouble resigning all their players, Poile swoops in and goes back on the hunt for Duchene, the man he’s chased for nearly two years.
I know that seems a bit far fetched, but it honestly seems like a real possibility to me. Maybe Poile was playing the long game for Duchene, maybe it just happened to work out like this.
Either way, Duchene to Nashville is a very strong possibility that will likely be done in the next few days.