Matthew Duchene to depart Colorado Avalanche for pastures new?
Three Reasons Why The Avalanche Need To Trade Matt Duchene
In the build up to the NHL Draft 2017, most hockey fans believed that Matt Duchene would leave the Colorado Avalanche. However, the trade, for whatever reason, did not happen at the NHL Draft as expected. The reported asking price for Duchene is too high if you as many GM’s out there, but I still believe a deal will be done eventually.
The Avalanche General Manager Joe Sakic should swallow his pride, except his price for Duchene is too high and move the once face of the franchise.
Speculation will continue, but for now, here are three reasons why the Avalanche needs to trade Matt Duchene:
You are the worst team in the league!
The Avalanche found themselves a massive 21 points adrift of anyone else during the regular season. They ended with just 48 points, a total that was described as embarrassing by many fans of the franchise. Small trades for new bottom six players will not solve their problems, they are the worst team in the league and they need to make something happen. Trading away Duchene would be the kind of big move they need to start and build a new era, and when you are the worst in the league, you need to be looking to the future.
Duchene overtook as face of franchise
Since drafting Matt Duchene, he has been the face of the Colorado Avalanche, their hope for the future and the person they turn to. He is none of those now, mainly thanks to the speedy development of new star man on the roster Nathan MacKinnon. The 21-year-old took over from Duchene as the number one forward on the Avalanche roster last season and he is now the hope of this franchise. The Avalanche need to build around MacKinnon but may struggle to do that while Duchene is on the roster.
There is a massive elephant in the Avalanche locker room. MacKinnon may now be the leader, but keeping his unhappy predecessor Duchene undermines his authority. A clean break and rebuild around MacKinnon could be what transforms the franchise. It is essential Sakic recognises the importance of team unity and trades Duchene. Only then, can the team to establish a new identity with MacKinnon at the helm.
Is Matt Duchene really an elite forward?
With the Avalanche looking to the future, is Duchene really the elite level forward they need to be paying $6M? With all the talk surrounding his trade, a lot of focus has been taken away from his play last season. He was good, and played well on a bad team, but is Duchene truly elite?
Duchene has failed to hit 60 points in his last three seasons and finished the 2016/17 campaign with just 41 points on the board. His -34 rating does not make for good reading either. However, it can be hard to evaluate a player’s ability when he is on the worst team in the league. A quick glance at Duchene’s performance for Team Canada at the 2017 World Championship is a damning tale. Lost on the ice and only registering a single point was in stark contrast to new Avalanche leader MacKinnon, who led Team Canada points (15) and joint top scorer (6). Forget about trade value for a minute Sakic and prioritise uniting the team around a true elite leader, MacKinnon.
What should the Avalanche do next?
The Avalanche are clearly not going to be anywhere near contention for at least a couple of seasons, is Duchene worth the $6 million they are throwing at him? In my opinion, an emphatic no. That is not to say that playing for a good team, with less pressure; Duchene could not bounce back and earn his $6M salary. That is irrelevant to the Avalanche who have enough young forwards coming through to allow other people a chance to step up and prove themselves.
Trading Duchene now for future picks and promising prospects makes sense now and in the future. In the short term, the Avalanche can create a new team identity, led by MacKinnon, united and without an unhappy Duchene. Once the young forwards of the Avalanche develop in the newly united team, they will need paying.
I am sure we will see many more twists and turns in the Matt Duchene saga this summer. The Avalanche appear to be intent on keeping hold of him and only trading for the right price. In an era where GM’s jobs are not too stable, it is understandable Sakic is reluctant to prioritise the future and trade Duchene. However, if the Avalanche wants to build a successful team, they have to trade Matt Duchene, as they have to plan a future without him, starting as soon as possible.