( Above Photo Credit: 303 Hockey )
By: Bob Mand Follow Me On Twitter @HockeyMand
Over the summer there have been ‘rumblings’ that the Boston Bruins were one of the squads in direct pursuit of disgruntled Colorado Avalanche star forward, Matt Duchene. With training camps rapidly approaching the Avs’ front office is under increasing pressure to get a deal done. The clamor isn’t exactly building in the Bruins’ direction (since the B’s have their own problems with a potential holdout forward) but it bears repeating to review exactly why this is a bad idea. Now, these rumors regarding Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney’s involvement didn’t exactly increase in tenor or volume as the offseason progressed, but it’s important to speak to the issue… Especially when we may have already addressed it before.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) September 6, 2017
Lots of teams have been kicking the tires on Duchene this offseason as both the team and player have indicated their openness to a deal. However, the Bruins should not, under any circumstances, consider him the answer to their top-six forward hole. For starters, it would be a cap mess. Unless David Pastrnak re-signed for something enormously less than a hometown discount, the Avs would have to retain money and take back one of the Bruins bottom-pairing defenseman (Kevan Miller, anyone?).
That’s complicated enough. Coupled with the king’s ransom Avs’ GM Joe Sakic is seeking for his demoralized center, it seems to put up a roadblock that no post-apocalyptic hero-on-a-motorcycle could weave past. Then there’s the plug-and-play issue. Duchene is a center. The Bruins have four (count ‘em) – four pivots with extensive NHL experience ready to take the dot in top-nine roles. Picking up a talented center simply to play wing diminishes what value he has – without diminishing the asking price. It would be as though the Bruins agreed to pay for a pint of Murphy’s Irish only to get some canned Natty Ice instead.
Matt Duchene and his representation may want a trade by the start of camp but will Colorado find the right deal? https://t.co/Ka9t4gjRO1
— Pro Hockey Rumors (@prohockeyrumors) September 4, 2017
And what exactly would the Bruins be getting in ‘Dutchy,’ as he is lovingly called in Denver? The game-breaking talent he appeared when he was drafted? Hardly – or the Avs wouldn’t be so ready to move him (despite the price). Over his eight full NHL seasons, Duchene has passed 25 goals twice as well as 60 points twice. His 2013 lockout-shortened campaign would have likely added to those totals (it was his best year on a per-game basis), but we’ll never know for certain.
As it stands, he’s coming off a season where he put up a line of 18-23-41 – hardly the stuff of legends. His Corsi For percentage sits just outside the bottom tenth (272nd of 304) of the League over the past three seasons (45.8% – among players with at least 150 games played). Sure, relative to his linemates, he manages a middle of the road 0.7 CF%rel – and that’s decent enough for him to stand alongside solid players like Jeff Carter, Jonathan Drouin, and Ryan Kesler.
However, for a player with just two years left on his current deal, that just doesn’t cut it on a team designed for and run by plus-possession players like Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, and Brad Marchand. Perhaps they could bring him up to their level… Or perhaps he could sink them down to his. Many point to Duchene as a risk worth taking. At what cost, though [Cries out in agony]… AT WHAT COST!?
Do we need to send one of our young defensive luminaries to the Rockies? Does our need for speed up front lead to a sacrifice of some of our almost ready for prime-time forwards like Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Zach Senyshyn or Anders Bjork? Wouldn’t the Bruins be better served to let their stockpile of young talent duke it out in a Royal Rumble-style fight for roster spots and ice time?
Ultimately, it comes down to a weighing of risk versus reward, and in this writer’s opinion, Matt Duchene’s caveats don’t warrant the haul of assets Joe Sakic is seeking from potential buyers.