As the trade market heats up before free agency begins tomorrow, Darren Dreger of TSN reports that both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators have made offers for Matt Duchene, but Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has still not been convinced. We’ve heard of the Predators’ interest before, but this is the first real concrete connection that the Blue Jackets have made a play for the young forward.
Duchene has been on the market since partway through the 2016-17 season, but Sakic has been firm with his asking price and apparently it hasn’t been met just yet. With such a thin free agent market especially in terms of impact scoring, Duchene could be the prize of the next few weeks. Even in a down year he still scored 18 goals and 41 points, and can be reasonably expected to bounce back to his earlier level of play. At 26 he’s still young enough to help pretty much anyone, but with just two years left on his current deal it’s more likely that a contender adds him as one of the last pieces to their puzzle.
It was reported this week that the Islanders had made a play for Duchene before dealing Travis Hamonic to the Calgary Flames, and it’s doubtful that the interest has waned at all since then. The package of picks that New York received could easily be flipped in a potential deal with Colorado. That said, both Nashville and Columbus have the young defensive depth to perhaps pull it off and could each use a bit of a scoring punch. Nashville would like to replace James Neal after he was snatched in the expansion draft, and Columbus continues to try and add to their top-six even after acquiring Artemi Panarin from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Whether Duchene ends up in one of those three cities is still far from assured. There is interest from many places around the league, and could end up coming down after a few free agent dominoes fall in the first few days. If Sakic is to get the prospect, first-round pick and young defender he was rumored to be asking for at the trade deadline, it will have to include multiple teams bidding against each other.