While the Matt Duchene rumors have been quite exciting already, they show no sign of slowing down. Despite whispers that the top free-agent center is interested in joining the Nashville Predators, more teams keep coming up. The most recent interest comes from the Arizona Coyotes. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun (subscription required) writes that the Coyotes, searching for another top-line center, intend to aggressively pursue Duchene, while the Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t given up on re-signing their deadline acquisition either.
The 28-year-old scored 31 goals and 70 points between Ottawa and Columbus last season, but a solid postseason in which he registered five goals and 10 points in 10 playoff games was enough to make him one of the most sought-after impending free agents, especially with teams in need at the center position.
Arizona used Derek Stepan as their top-line center this season, but the team would be better served moving Stepan to a second-line role and inserting a new name into the No. 1 spot, giving them two solid options down the middle and allowing Arizona to utilize other forwards like Nick Schmaltz and Alex Galchenyuk at the wing position. Arizona, which narrowly fell short of the playoffs this season, has made it clear that they want to upgrade their team and become playoff relevant after years sitting in the Pacific Division cellar.
As for Columbus, LeBrun writes that the franchise is still negotiating with Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson, to bring the center back. One question that comes up is whether the team would be willing to offer eight years, and upwards of $80MM to Duchene, especially when they would also have to give Ottawa their 2020 first-round pick if they successfully re-sign him. While many have suggested that being aggressive at the trade deadline was good for Columbus, the team would look even better if it could retain at least one of Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, or Ryan Dzingel this summer.