The skilled forward is headed for unrestricted free agency, and if the Senators don’t feel confident they can re-sign him, they may have to move him by the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
Duchene is expected to miss around two weeks with a groin injury, but had been enjoying a resurgent season to this point, tallying 12 goals and 34 points (12th in the NHL) in 29 games.
“A few weeks ago there was actually some talk about maybe Duchene and Ottawa coming a little closer to a contract extension,” said Nick Kypreos on Saturday’s Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada. “I can tell you, no numbers were ever exchanged. But that won’t keep the Ottawa Senators from asking eventually what his intentions are.”
The Senators paid a hefty price to acquire Duchene in November of last season, dealing Kyle Turris, prospect Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond, a third-round pick, and their first-round pick this season (Ottawa had the choice of giving away either this pick or its fourth-overall pick last June).
The 27-year-old hasn’t spoken much about his future plans in public, but a rebuilding team like the Senators will likely look to avoid seeing the Haliburton, Ont., native walk away this coming summer for nothing.
“They probably will pass through the holiday season, but in the new year I think they’re going to want a real hard decision on Duchene, on whether or not he wants to stay or go,” said Kypreos. “If he doesn’t, then there’s no question that they’re going to need all the time they can to trade him.”