Not that Matt Duchene is, in any way, asking or demanding to be traded away from the Colorado Avalanche, but you probably still don’t want to hear your leading goal scorer talk about a potential move this way.
On Wednesday, Duchene was asked about the trade rumours that are swirling around his name and admitted a move from Colorado is something he’s prepared for if it happens.
“I’m open to it,” Duchene told Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. “When I say open to it, I know it’s part of the business, and it’s something that might happen. I’m not hiding from it. I’m not running away. I’m not banging my head. I understand it’s part of what we deal with as pro athletes.”
What must be making this harder on Duchene, even as an eight-year pro, is that he grew up a fan of the Avalanche and now-GM Joe Sakic. The team drafted him third overall in 2009 behind John Tavares and Victor Hedman. Ever since then, Duchene has been a major part of the Colorado operation and has led the team in scoring three times.
He currently leads the team with 15 goals and is second to Nathan MacKinnon in points with 29. Duchene remains one of the fastest skaters in the NHL and, at just 26 years old with two more seasons on his contract after this one at $6 million against the cap, he’s a very tradable asset.
There is no doubting the Avalanche are a total disaster this season and they haven’t won a game in regulation since Dec. 11 against Toronto. Erik Johnson has been out since Dec. 3 and his absence is a crushing blow. And now Tyson Barrie has missed four games in a row, too.
If a move is made involving Duchene or another young player such as Gabriel Landeskog, the Avs would likely be looking for a defenceman in return. And whatever the trade ends up being, if there is one at all, the Avalanche won’t give away Duchene for nothing — they’d be after a big haul.
“If you’re asking about Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog, from what I understand, teams have been told they’re not giving these guys because they’re panicking,” Elliotte Friedman said on a New Year’s Eve Headlines segment. “If you want to come at [the Avalanche] with good, young defencemen or prospects, [they] are prepared to listen. But the packages are going to have to be big because they look at both [players] and see good players signed to good contracts.”
It’s a tough situation for the Avs, who would of course be reluctant to give up on what is still a pretty young core of players. But the trouble has been brewing ever since their unlikely appearance in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs gave false hope and finally seems to be hitting a tipping point where a big change will come.
It can be a tough situation to play in, and even Duchene sounds defeated.
“Where we’re at, it’s really hard. It’s tough for everybody. Waking up in the morning, it’s not the same excitement going to the rink,” he told Kiszla. “I love to play the game, and love the game for what the game is. But at this point, it’s hard. It’s hard knowing where we are right now and what our future holds. It’s really difficult.”
For what it’s worth, when Landeskog was asked about the rumours around his name a couple of weeks ago, he was a little less accepting of the situation.
“I want to be an Avalanche, to stay an Avalanche and be in Denver for a long, long time,” Landeskog told the Denver Post.
“Whether my name is floating around or not, I’m still approaching the game the same way. And that is to spread energy, be a good teammate, work hard and try to get better every day. Me being in trade rumours, that’s nothing I can control.”