This a weekly feature that rounds up news, rumours, and interesting things happening around the NHL.
Last weekend, the Colorado Avalanche finally pulled the trigger on a deal involving Matt Duchene. The third overall pick from the 2009 draft has been wanting out of Colorado since last Christmas, and it was expected he would be moved over the off-season. But, oddly enough, in the middle of a game, Joe Sakic dealt Duchene in a three-team deal involving the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators.
Colorado got a pretty solid haul of prospects and picks and Nashville got Kyle Turris, who they quickly signed to a six-year extension. Ottawa paid a hefty price, a first, third, a prospect, and third-string goalie Andrew Hammond, to upgrade Turris to Duchene.
This is an interesting deal because it leaves us with information about who was actively trying to acquire a top-line talent. According to Pierre LeBrun, the Columbus Blue Jackets wanted Duchene and with him off the market, they’ll look elsewhere for a top centre. Same goes for the New York Rangers, who, according to Bob McKenzie, badly wanted Duchene.
Sticking with the Blue Jackets and their pursuit of a top centre, beat reporter Aaron Portzline suggests that Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk are two young pivots who continue to show up in trade discussions.
We’ve been hearing Galchenyuk’s name in rumours forever now it seems. The Habs view him and a winger and he wants to be a centre and he’s struggling offensively this year. Just two years ago he scored 30 goals and he’s signed to a reasonable contract, so Galchenyuk certainly has value. Nugent-Hopkins is an interesting name too. He finds his way into rumours not necessarily because he’s actively being shopped, but because the Oilers are getting into a cap crunch and they might not be able to afford his $6 million cap hit. But RNH is having an excellent season so far in Edmonton, so moving him in the middle of it before Connor McDavid’s mammoth extension kicks in seems odd, even if it nets them a good scoring winger.
Regardless, the Duchene deal showed everyone that it isn’t too early to pull the trigger on a trade. In 31 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman suggested the Oilers could be the next team to pull the trigger on a deal, though it won’t be as big as last weekend’s three-team blockbuster.
With Duchene off the market, the next best asset likely available for trade is Evander Kane in Buffalo. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and the Sabres are nowhere near playoff contention. There are other impending free agents like John Tavares and Joe Thornton who’s names will likely show up in rumours as time goes on, but with both the Islanders and Sharks looking like playoff contenders, it’s hard to see either being dealt.
Another name to watch is Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona. It seems like just yesterday he inked a six-year deal, but he’ll become a free agent for the first time in his career at the end of the 2018-19 season. The Coyotes are off to a terrible start and the future of the franchise is murky, though John Chayka dismissed the rumours. There’s no doubt Chayka could net a massive return if he dealt a year-and-a-half of OEL to a team in need of a top defenceman.
Nick Kypreos mentioned that he figures Mitch Marner will be the odd man out of Toronto’s bevy of forwards. Toronto need a defenceman and they aren’t going to get a good one for James van Riemsdyk, no matter what their fans want to believe. Maybe something between the Leafs and Coyotes makes sense.
The Vadim Shipachyov saga is over. Shipachyov, after just three games with the Golden Knights, agreed to a voluntary retirement from the NHL, meaning Vegas holds his rights until he’s 35 years old. He’s the first Golden Knight to retire in franchise history and he’s their all-time leader in relative Corsi For percentage. Cool.
Apparently the Anaheim Ducks were interested in making a trade for Shipachyov, but the possibility of a deal collapsed due to complications around Shipachyov repaying his signing bonus to the Golden Knights.
And finally, it was reported that the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will play in the 2019 outdoor game. It’ll be Chicago’s sixth time being featured in an outdoor game since it became a tradition in 2008. Of course, Chicago is a market darling for advertisers, but it’s getting tiresome watching the same team used over and over again.