Matt Duchene is going to be traded this summer.
Joe Sakic cemented this as an indubitable fact when he made Duchene’s availability public.
He was supposed to end up in Long Island last week.
Islanders GM, Garth Snow tried to package Hamonic and a first round pick in the deal.
Joe Sakic didn’t bite, despite being pressured to move Duchene.
The Islanders have moved on.
They traded their best trade chip in Hamonic to Calgary for a collection of draft picks.
Matt Duchene is pissed.
His agent, Pat Brisson is pissed.
And Joe Sakic is running out of options.
Then, yesterday Elliotte Friedman dropped a bomb in his weekly ’30 Thoughts’ column.
Friedman is a pretty reputable source.
He doesn’t tend to throw around rumors often.
Now, don’t plan on Duchene coming to Pittsburgh just yet.
He simply said that the Penguins are a low-key possibility.
But that’s still plenty of reason to be excited.
Duchene is a world-class talent.
He’s consistently scored around 20 goals each year on an abysmal Avalanche team.
He’s one of the quickest players in all of hockey, with a set of hands to match.
Duchene is also pretty solid in his own end and has a career faceoff percentage of 52%.
Everything about his game screams Pittsburgh Penguins hockey.
He would absolutely flourish under Mike Sullivan with world-class talent around him.
Duchene is only 26 and playing for a team like the Penguins would light a fire under him.
Is it likely the Penguins nab Duchene? No.
But was it likely that they landed Phil Kessel two summers ago? No.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the Penguins have the pieces to make this deal work.
The Penguins currently have $18M in cap space and a few key RFA’s to sign.
Duchene has two years left on a contract that will count as a $6M cap hit.
The Penguins are in a unique position after moving Fleury’s $5.75M.
They can absolutely fit Duchene under the salary cap on an already stacked team.
Here’s my trade proposal:
Olli Maatta, Daniel Sprong, and a 1st round pick for Matt Duchene.
Joe Sakic isn’t a good GM, and now he’s in a bad spot.
He has to trade Duchene sooner or later, and he’s running out of trade partners.
Olli Maatta was once thought of as a core piece to the Penguins future.
Things have changed.
Maatta has been through a lot, and his game has taken a hit, particularly his speed.
He’s only 22 years old and has plenty of time to reach his potential.
He’s on a six-year deal that will count as a cap hit of just over $4M.
The Penguins could market him to the Avalanche as a young defenseman with a championship pedigree on a team-friendly deal.
I would be sad to see him go, but players like Duchene don’t become available very often.
Now, onto the next piece of the deal, Daniel Sprong.
I know this is where a lot of people are going to sour on this deal.
But just hang on.
Sprong is a hell of a prospect; he lit his junior league on fire.
But he played in the QMJHL.
That’s far different than the competition he will face in the NHL.
Matt Duchene is a proven star.
He’s scored 418 points in 572 games on the worst team in the league.
It’s hard to project just how good Daniel Sprong will turn out to be.
Plus, the Penguins right wing is clogged.
Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, and now Ryan Reaves.
It’s an absolute logjam.
Where does Sprong fit in? And when?
Here’s another reason why I’d be okay with moving Sprong.
The Penguins made a deal similar to this one not long ago.
They acquired Phil Kessel for their top forward prospect Kasperi Kapanen.
Kessel: 164GP 49G 80A 129PTS
Kapanen: 17GP 1G 0A 1PT
Kessel: 49GP 18G 27A 45PTS 2 Stanley Cups
Kapanen: 6GP 2G 0A 2PTS
The point is, Kapanen is just now becoming NHL ready.
And the Penguins have already won two Stanley Cups since then.
They don’t win either of those two Cups without Kessel.
Sprong is just now moving on from his junior team.
He could be a great player right away.
He could also need development in the AHL.
He might never turn out to be anything good at all.
Matt Duchene is ready to go right now.
He adds a new dimension to an already incredible team.
Teams are going to be gunning for the Penguins.
Completing a threepeat won’t be easy.
Much like Friedman said, the addition of Duchene could give the Penguins a guy to rally around.
The Penguins and Avalanche might not ever speak a word about this trade.
In fact, predicting a blockbuster like this is always a longshot.
But if the deal is there to be made, the Penguins should absolutely do it.
The future is right now for this team.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin only come around once in a liftetime.
Sacrifice a possible good thing in the future for a great player right now.
Give them another weapon.
Increase the chances to win the Stanley Cup for a third straight year.
Build the first NHL superteam.