The most anticipated trade the NHL was waiting on for at last the past eight months was finally made official Sunday night, as Matt Duchene was shipped off from Colorado in a three-team trade that ended with him landing with the Ottawa Senators.
One day after reports surfaced that a three-way trade between Ottawa, Nashville and Colorado involving Duchene and Kyle Turris had broken down, the teams were able to come back around and settle on an agreement. In the deal, the Senators acquired Duchene, the Preds got Turris (and immediately re-signed him for six years) and the Avalanche got a collection of futures including a first-round pick and defenceman Samuel Girard.
The manner in which the trade went down was about as odd as could be. The Avalanche were in the middle of a game against the New York Islanders when it was agreed to, so Duchene was notified and left the game in the middle of the first period.
As he was leaving the arena, Duchene talked about the trade and the way it unfolded at the end.
“It’s very weird to obviously get pulled during a game and then be playing my first two games against my old team is very strange,” he said. “But it was something I half expected.”
Duchene’s new team doesn’t play again until next weekend, when they take on Duchene’s old team in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday night in Sweden for the SAP NHL Global Series.
The Avalanche had been looking to move Duchene since before last season’s trade deadline and it was expected he’d at least start the 2017-18 season on a new team. When he wasn’t moved by the start of training camp, some wondered if Duchene would even report to the Avalanche amid all the speculation. But with two seasons left on his deal before becoming eligible for UFA status, he showed up and said he was there to “honour his contract.”
“Probably the last almost year it’s been tough. But at the same time it’s a learning experience, a growing experience,” Duchene said Sunday night. “It’s part of the business. None of this is personal at the end of the day. It’s business.”
Duchene grew up a fan of the Colorado Avalanche and the team drafted him third overall in 2009. Het got to play for coach Patrick Roy, president Joe Sakic and with Peter Forsberg for a few games, three of the players who were leaders on the teams Duchene idolized in his youth. He said walking away from Colorado, a city he’s had a connection with through hockey and personally as his wife is from there, was emotional.
After all this, the trade didn’t catch Duchene off guard, and in the moments before he was pulled off the bench he saw indications that it was imminent.
“I was joking before the game with my family that this might happen today,” he said. “I kinda knew before they told me. I saw them talking on the bench. It’s very strange. Like I said I half expected it to be the weirdest way possible.”
After struggling through a miserable 41-point 2016-17 season in which the Avalanche were the NHL’s worst team by a long shot, Duchene has four goals and 10 points in 13 games this season. The Senators are 6-3-5, second in the Atlantic Division, while Colorado is third in the Central with an 8-5-0 mark.