A “decision” on the trade plans of the Ottawa Senators for impending free agent forwards Matt Duchene, Mark Stone, and Ryan Dzingel has been anticipated all week long. With a week left before deadline day, the Senators have to be listening to offers for all three at this point, but there had been no word of extension talks ending with any of the standout out UFA’s. That is until now. According to several sources, for one reason or another the Senators have made the decision to trade Duchene.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman got the ball rolling late last night, when he reported that Ottawa had shifted their focus from re-signing Duchene to re-signing Stone. Friedman wrote that the Senators and Stone had re-engaged in extension talks over the last few days after abandoning talks with Duchene. He stated that Duchene is now available to all interested teams. This morning, TSN’s Darren Dreger reiterated the point by stating that unless there is an unexpected change in the mindset from Duchene’s camp, the center will be traded. He continued that Stone has bought himself another day or two, but that a decision should be made on the star winger soon as well. Colleague Pierre LeBrun followed that up by stating that several teams have already checked in on Duchene. LeBrun believes that the Nashville Predators, who have been interested in Duchene for several years, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are expected to target the Senators’ rentals as Artemi Panarin replacement options, are the early leaders in trade talks.
Of the three Ottawa free agents, many expected Duchene to be the most likely to re-sign, due to family ties to the area. It has also been speculated that there is a chance Duchene could be traded and still sign with the Senators as a free agent, giving him a chance to win a title this year and giving Ottawa some nice pieces to help jump-start their rebuild. However, the reason Duchene originally wanted to be traded by the Colorado Avalanche last year was so that he did not have to endure a rebuild. With that in mind, it was always a strong possibility that Duchene’s days in Ottawa were numbered. Now that he is officially on the trade block, the dominoes could begin to fall. If Duchene is available due to a breakdown in contract talks, that could also hurt the chances that Stone would opt for an extension in Ottawa. Additionally, Dzingel continues to be an afterthought compared to Duchene and Stone, which could result in his departure, unless talks with Stone end soon as well and he becomes the priority. Outside of the Senators organization, Duchene’s market will also dictate the price and interested teams for centers like Kevin Hayes, Eric Staal, and Derick Brassard, while the Blue Jackets’ involvement could heat up trade talks surrounding Panarin and set the market for all rentals. With a week to go, things are finally starting to heat up on the rumor mill.