Colorado Avalanche Not Trading Matt Duchene


As the NHL Trade Deadline approaches, Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly is everyone’s favorite trade bait, at least amongst Avalanche fans. He’s gone through two contentious contractual disputes with the team already. He also has only one more year under contract with the Avalanche before he’s an unrestricted free agent.

With the team’s regression from last year’s success, though, some other names are getting bandied about. One that has been coming up with some consistency, even on this site, is Matt Duchene.

Some people think the Colorado Avalanche might and even should trade Matt Duchene:

However, the decision-makers of the Avalanche roster, GM Joe Sakic and head coach Patrick Roy are highly unlikely to make that decision in the near future — nor should they.

The Avalanche Structure

At the end of last season, as the O’Reilly contract dispute took center stage, GM Joe Sakic said over and over that the Avalanche have a “structure.” While he never came out and said it, pushing by Denver Post reporters highlighted that Sakic meant Duchene is considered the most valuable skater and should thus be compensated the most.

Coach Roy came a lot closer to saying just that. He alluded to his own time as a player, early on in Montreal:

"“It was working like this [internal salary structure] in 1985 when I signed my first contract. It hasn’t changed — every team decides. I remember Serge Savard saying ‘I can’t give you this, Larry Robinson‘s making that.’ And today it’s the same thing.”"

Well, as we all know, O’Reilly ended up making the same money as Duchene even though he’s never matched Duchene in production. So,  Sakic and Roy believe in a Duchene-based team structure — that is evident in their statements and in their willingness to go to arbitration for the fact. They are unlikely to trade the player who sites at the center of their team structure.

Coach Roy’s Faith and Pragmatism

Patrick Roy is something of an optimist — at least as a coach. He talks about believing in his players and sticking with them to the end. Yes, of course that can change, especially in relation to specific players (PA Parenteau, Reto Berra, Daniel Briere).

Duchene has done nothing extreme enough to warrant losing Roy’s faith, though. He’s working hard, he’s made adjustments to his game, and he’s maintaining his leadership role. Coach Roy, who has the final say on the roster, is unlikely to see a reason to move Duchene.

So much of the trade speculation concerning Duchene comes from the fact that he’s a streaky player. He goes through whole stretches when he’s unable to produce goals for the Avalanche.

However, even in this season of scoring woes, Duchene hasn’t gone more than three games without recording at least an assist. The goals don’t always go in, but he continues to be a playmaker nonetheless.

Duchene has more potential for scoring than any forward on the team except Nathan MacKinnon. Roy can hope that within two years he’ll have a dangerous one-two punch down the center. He’s pragmatic enough to know the “two” is more likely to be Duchene than O’Reilly.

Add to that the fact that O’Reilly is costing more for less, and there’s no reason to keep him over Duchene. Add to that the fact that he’s up for another contract after the 2015-16 season whereas Duchene is signed through to the end of the 2018-19 season, and keeping O’Reilly over Duchene is downright reckless.

Possible Duchene Trade

The majority of this post has examined why the Avalanche won’t trade Duchene over O’Reilly. However, there is one possibility — the team could trade Duchene and O’Reilly.

The only way that would happen would be in the mother of blockbuster trades. This would be a move that makes the Evander Kane trade look downright modest.

I’m talking big names — not just Phil Kessel names but Shea Weber names.

Actually, considering Duchene and O’Reilly are both centers, we’re talking Ryan Getzlaf and even Sid Crosby type names.

Stop laughing. The point is, trading Duchene over O’Reilly beggars the team in the long run. The only feasible option is trading both. And the only way that is feasible is if the Avalanche are getting a superstar franchise player in return.

In other words, the Colorado Avalanche are not trading Matt Duchene.

Next: That's Our Dutchy!

More from Mile High Sticking

More on Matt Duchene

What Matt Duchene Can Learn from Tyler Seguin

Matt Duchene CanSkate

The Evolution of Matt Duchene as a Leader

TBT: Matt Duchene’s First Fight