The NHL trade deadline is approaching quickly and the Nashville Predators are a team right in the middle of the rumor mill this season. Many are reporting that the Predators are hunting a top 6 forward and Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene is right at the top of that list. However, is he really what the Predators need right now?
A couple of weeks ago the rumors really began to fly when french website DansLesCoulisses reported that Predators GM David Poile had made an official offer to the Avalanche for Duchene. This offer was suppose to have included 2 top prospects, one possibly being defenseman Samuel Girard, as well as a 1st round pick. They reported it was turned down by Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. By now we have all heard the Avs asking price is a 1st, a young prospect and a current young top 4 defenseman.
Let me start by saying, I would love to have Matt Duchene in Predator gold, but that price tag means they have to dismantle this d-core. Mattias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis are the most likely candidates to be offered up in such a deal. This is a price I don’t think the Preds can afford to pay. Both guys are 26 and coming off of career years. Add to that the fact that Roman Josi, P.K. Subban and Ryan Ellis have all missed significant time with injuries this year and I am not sure you can withstand losing one again after trading one of those two defensmen. This top 4 has only been on the ice at the same time for 29 of the 59 games played this year. They are still learning each other and should only get better, there is just too much talent there for them not to.
As far as the prospect part of an offer like that goes, that can be absorbed. However, we are talking prospects like Kevin Fiala (F), Alexandre Carrier (D), Dante Fabbro (D) or Samuel Girard. All four of these guys look like future NHL regulars. So, while it would be doable, it is still going to hurt. David Poile has traded 1st round picks to fill what he believed to be a need before, so I don’t see that part of the deal being a problem.
Should the Predators be willing to make such an offer for a player that is obviously not having a typical season for him. Duchene, as of now, is barely out producing the Predators current 3rd/2nd line center Mike Fisher. Duchene has 16 goals and 20 assists, Fisher is at 14 goals and 20 assists. Granted, the overall off year the Avalanche are having, might be part of this problem. Even so, you have to ask yourself is it worth giving up a top 4 defensemen, 1 or 2 A prospects and a 1st, on the off chance that this is just what Duchene is this year? Yes, you would have him for 2 more years after that, but this is about becoming a Cup Contender this season. There is no guarantee that Duchene will bring that to the Predators this year and you really weaken your back end in the process.
For me, the Predators would be better served going after an upcoming UFA with top 6 ability and pay a far more reasonable price. Radim Vrbata (Arizona) and Patrick Sharp (Dallas) are two that come to mind. Couple that with James Neal, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg finding a little more consistency in there games and this team could turn into what we all thought they would be at the start of the season.
So, to answer that question….no the Nashville Predators don’t need Matt Duchene.
Feature Image Credit: Matt Russell, Getty Images