The Avs completed a trade Sunday night that we now know had been asked for last Christmas by Matt Duchene and his agent Pat Brisson. What they got back was a basket of futures, some close and some not, from both the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators. Duchene ends up in Ottawa where we’ll see him in black & red this weekend in Stockholm, Sweden.
For reference, here are the assets the Avs received:
D Samuel Girard, ’16 R2 #47 from NSH
F Vladislav Kamenev, ’14 R2 #42 from NSH
F Shane Bowers, ’17 R1 #28 from OTT
2018 R1 from OTT, top-10 protected so might end up a ’19
2018 R2 from NSH
2019 R3 from OTT
G Andrew Hammond, vet depth goalie from OTT, currently in the AHL
We’ve asked the staff to give initial takes on a few pertinent issues. Obviously no one will know how to value this for a long time but it’s nice to set a benchmark early for expectations. Let’s get to it.
The Avs end up with 7 assets out of the trade, 3 picks, 3 prospects and an emergency goalie. What is your immediate feeling about the return and if the Avs were wise to wait for such a haul?
Vlad: Joe Sakic pulled off what so many people felt he could not do in getting what he felt was the best deal possible for his one-time thirty goal scorer in Matt Duchene. He also did it by raiding the draft and prospect stockpile of the Ottawa Senators and, perhaps most importantly in my mind, that of division rival Nashville. Many people were skeptical of Sakic’s ability to get fair value from one franchise. Instead, two franchises stepped up and worked together to bring this deal to fruition. I have to give Sakic tons of credit for being patient to do right by his franchise and get the best deal he felt would improve the team. It’s hard to argue against a seven(!) asset return, and being able to swing this kind of deal may give others pause when labeling Sakic as an incompetent, bumbling executive. The sheer volume of assets alone definitely signals that the Avs were wise to be patient. It could have backfired in spectacular fashion, but Sakic’s gamble paid big dividends.
In full disclosure, I don’t follow the world of prospect hockey very closely, but I feel pretty good about the return on the trade. Sakic, from a certain point of view, did receive those multiple first-round picks he wanted: Ottawa’s pick in this year’s draft, and the first-round pick Ottawa held in this past June’s draft to draft Shane Bowers. The fact that Ottawa has lottery protection on the 2018 first-round pick is moot: that pick will certainly become Avalanche property even if Ottawa falls short of their Cup bid this season. The Avs own first-round pick, coupled with the Ottawa first-round pick and Nashville’s 2018 second-round pick gives the Avs three cracks at the top 62 picks in what’s supposed to be a very deep draft next June. Snaring Ottawa’s third-round pick in 2019 definitely turns the loss of the Avs’ 2019 fourth-round pick they gave up for Colin Wilson into a gain; after all, having two third-round picks puts the Avs in a better draft position than having two fourth-round picks. I’ll be happy to see what the Avs have in new defensive prospect Samuel Girard, but I won’t make any snap decisions on him as he will need time to adjust to the coaching systems of Jared Bednar. Regarding forward prospect Vladislav Kamenev, he’s demonstrated consistent offensive production in the AHL, so hopefully he can be do the same for the big club as well. I don’t expect to see Andrew Hammond in an Avalanche sweater, but if he can be flipped for a late-round pick, that would definitely be quite a steal, wouldn’t it?
QueenJK: It is going to take some time to simply evaluate the return. In the obvious sense as this is a futures heavy return but also just to evaluate each asset on an individual basis and how they will fit in and benefit the org in the the more current sense. The immediate reaction is that what got this deal done was Sakic moving to a futures based deal and off the idea of getting an established NHL defenseman as a primary return. Although any disappointment might lie in not getting a real blue chip prospect, it’s understandable Sakic wouldn’t get the asset haul he did if that had been the case either. The Avs need help in a lot of areas and broadening their asset base and draft capital is still very necessary. All three prospects are young recent top picks who have been on an upward trajectory and the picks will add to the top 100 pick stable in the next two drafts, so there’s some quality within the quantity too.
It is difficult to truly evaluate if Sakic was wise to wait without knowing what offers he passed on or what else was potentially on the table in this deal. He does get credit for two things, one moving off of a specific return framework and willing to take a deal loaded with futures, which seemed to align more with the reality of what was going to get the deal finished. And two for getting two other organizations to work together to accomplish this transaction. Three way trades are often just the fantasy of armchair GMs and here’s one that actually occurred. Getting seven assets in return likely would never have happened in a two party trade so just to even get that many pieces on the table is a win. Also, credit in not waiting too long. Would have been easy to want to keep the band together longer after a decent start to the season and ride it out a bit longer. It’s a relief to everyone to put this behind us and thankfully everyone can move on from the saga.
Ace: Me likey. Joe exhibited patience, poise, and the ability to pivot. The trade stayed consistent with #youngerfaster by bringing in several promising prospects. For the longest time, the conventional wisdom stated the Avs wanted a top-pairing D, an F prospect (or pick), and a first-round draft pick. But that all changed last summer. A healthy Eric Johnson and an improving Tyson Berrie; the promising development of Anton Lindholm, Chris Bigras, and Nikita Zadorov; and then the waiver acquisitions of Mark Barbario and Patrick Nemeth significantly diluted the urgency of getting a top-flight defenseman. Additionally, it appears the Avs will have a greater interest in the development of new talent with their AHL team nearby in Loveland. Stocking the cupboard gives the organization more options immediately for the development program and in the future for the NHL team. These extra assets also give Joe & Co more flexibility for future trades. And one final feature, the Avs put a dent in the prospect pipeline of divisional rival, the Nashville Predators.
earl: Snap judgment is that the Avs checked off quite a few needs with this trade. Where they are as an organization now as opposed to yesterday is more in line with what they need to be doing and what we have been pleading for for years. Barring other transactions (and assuming OTT holds true to form) they will have two first round choices in this year’s defenseman-heavy draft along with two choices in the second round. They needed this, badly. Add to that Samuel Girard, who is close to NHL ready and left handed, and the defensive corps should be a strength rather than a weakness in the coming years. The Avs also lack forward talent and Kamenev & Bowers fill that need at two different age brackets. Instead of the mindset of needing X prospect to pan out or there will be big gap, they have a lot of ammunition in the development system to cover bases in the NHL.
Nobody liked waiting for this to happen. I think on an aggregate talent basis the Avs could have gotten something similar over the summer but this was the first deal I’m aware of that has the sheer volume of assets that could leverage into something far greater in the future. The patient side of me loves it, and that’s going to be key. Lots of fans are going to hate this trade because it sets the club back a couple of years but with what they had in the organization plus the draft portfolio going forward they were just treading water. To have a viable shot at winning a Stanley Cup, Joe Sakic had to hold out for a volume/futures deal like this.
Although he’s played both Center and RW recently this year Matt Duchene was primarily a center on what was considered the 2nd line. JT Compher looks to be the early call to slide into that role, how does this change the dynamic in the lineup in the short-term?
Vlad: I think this is definitely a vote of confidence by Coach Bednar in slotting J.T. Compher as second-line center behind Nathan MacKinnon. Several of us here have remarked at Compher’s defensive prowess as part of a line with Gabe Landeskog, but this will give Compher a chance to allow his offensive game to flourish. He’ll probably have Sven Andrighetto and Nail Yakupov on his wings, which could be an interesting look. If Compher can generate chemistry with those two, that may help mitigate the loss of Duchene’s skill on that second line. Once Tyson Jost and Colin Wilson become healthy again, that may provide some alternate combinations for Bednar and Co. to utilize in order to best balance the talent throughout the roster. At this stage, nothing is set in stone, so seeing some different looks on that second line will most likely be a frequent occurrence as the #youngerfaster era shifts into high gear for the Colorado Avalanche in the wake of Matt Duchene’s departure.
QueenJK: The fallout from the trade will be felt for a long while but one immediate dividend is moving further ahead with the youngerfaster lineup when Tyson Jost and JT Compher return from injury in short order. It was a bit of a struggle to see how both would fit in a healthy lineup with Alexander Kerfoot as well with Duchene still around. Now this will allow all of their roles to breathe a bit and the possibility to keeping AJ Greer around too, which would be a nice bonus. Someone will still probably have to make that 4th line work but seems like there’s more options now.
Ace: The Avalanche lost a lot of talent and experience with Matt Duchene’s departure. That likely won’t be easily or immediately replaced. Coach Jared Bednar stated after the Islanders’ game that he expects JT Compher to take Duchene’s spot. Those are some big skates to fill. Compher will have to do a lot of growing of his game to become an NHL caliber top-2 center. This becomes his chance to develop and prove himself in a big way. Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot remain other options for Bednar. It really is now a three-way competition for 2C with Compher being the early favorite. So, in the short term, expect a lot of Bednar’s Blender as he works these young guys into a higher profile position. Also going to see lots of mistakes and growing pains. Overall, it’s an exciting time for the Avalanche.
earl: I think losing Duchene’s highly skilled but wildly inconsistent play and replacing it with Compher’s steady and responsible style will hurt for a while but not as long as many think. I’ve been high on Comph’s ceiling since I first saw him playing in San Antonio last year. He can score enough and better yet, prevent enough goals against that we will have a wash here sooner rather than later. With Carl Soderberg’s line now proven to take on some of the heavy lifting that JTC and Landy did early in the season it will allow Coach Bednar to let those two have some easier matchups and start exploiting their offensive capabilities. It also gives the Avs 3 solid lines again that can compete with anyone on a given night and a 4th with youngsters that can come in and skate the bottom of the opponent’s lineup silly. I don’t think losing Dutch is going to hurt as much as statistically it looks like right now at all.
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What say you, dear reader? Did the Avs score or settle here? Does losing Duchene mean they’ll get crushed or will they perhaps be even better?