This week’s Blake’s Takes dives into Matt Duchene’s run in Ottawa and the impact of both trades. I also take a look into the hit that earned Connor McDavid his first suspension and another jersey retirement ceremony.
1. Matt Duchene Traded to Columbus
After much speculation and rumors, one of the biggest players available was finally traded before the deadline Matt Duchene was traded from Ottawa to Columbus last Friday. Ironically, the two teams were playing each other later that day, so Duchene had an easy time reporting to his new squad. Columbus won the game 3-0.
Ottawa traded Duchene and Julius Bergman (AHL) for two prospects, Vitalii Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, a 2019 conditional first-round pick (top-three protected), and a 2020 conditional first-round pick (pending Duchene re-ups with the Blue Jackets). I would think this eliminates all possibility that Columbus trades Artemi Panarin at the deadline. I wrote a few weeks back how Panarin said he planning on testing free agency come summer. It would be a foolish move on Columbus’ part to give up so much for Duchene, only for him and Panarin to walk in free agency.
This trade can be worth it for Columbus if Duchene and Panarin gel over the next 20 or so games together. If the two look good, Columbus could sign both of them to extensions and hope to build around those two and compete in the future. The trade would also be immensely successful if Columbus wins the Stanley Cup. That’s doubtful, but even the most lopsided trades are worth it if a team brings home a Cup. The best Columbus can hope for is that the two play well enough together to warrant the big money each player will command on the open market.
Bonus: What Did Ottawa get for their investment?
I saw a tweet on Friday from Matt Larkin, Senior Writer at The Hockey News, that highlighted what Ottawa gave up for Duchene and what they got in return.
Matt Duchene played parts of two seasons for the Senators. He was traded last fall from Colorado to Ottawa as a part of a three-team deal that included Nashville. I’m just interested in Ottawa’s end of the deal. So, in return for Duchene, Ottawa gave up forward Kyle Turris, goalie Andrew Hammond, prospect Shane Bowers, a 2019 conditional first-round pick (now Colorado’s), and a 2019 third-round pick.
What Ottawa gave up:
• NHL Forward, Kyle Turris (62 points in 104 games with Nashville)
• NHL Goalie, Andrew Hammond (1 game with Colorado)
• Prospect, Shane Bowers
• 2019 First-Round Pick
• 2019 Third-Round Pick
• Prospect, Julius Bergman
What Ottawa got in return:
• Prospect, Vitalii Abramov
• Prospect, Jonathan Davidsson
• 2019 First-Round Pick
• 2020 Conditional First-Round Pick
That’s a scathing difference. Ottawa basically gave up Turris and Hammond for a conditional first-round pick for 118 games of Matt Duchene. If one of the prospects in the deal turns out to be a superstar, that could flip this trade down the road. As it stands right now, Ottawa did not come out as a winner in either deal.
2. Unloved Team: Los Angeles Kings
This week’s unloved team is the Los Angeles Kings! It’s been a tough season for L.A. as a lot of their top players have had disappointing seasons. The Kings are currently the second-worst team in the league sitting between the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators. Detroit and Ottawa were expected to be that bad, L.A. was not. There was a ton of excitement before the season as the Kings signed NHL superstar and Russian hockey legend, Ilya Kovalchuk, before the season. The Kings roster also bolstered the likes of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick, and Drew Doughty, a core that brought two Stanley Cups to Los Angeles.
The Kings downfall can be attributed to their lack of speed. I’ve watched a few Kings games this season and that’s all you hear from the announcers. They say that the league is changing and the importance of team speed is at an all-time high. It then becomes apparent that speed is something L.A. does not have. Three of their top four highest paid players are power forwards over the age of 33-years-old. Dustin Brown, Carter, and Kovalchuk were all once great goal-scorers, but their skill sets aren’t as effective without a more speed around them. The Kings are a team of dinosaurs, waiting to go extinct.
Not a single player on their roster has more than 50 points and only Kopitar has more than 40. It doesn’t help that each player on their team is having a down year at the same time. When one of those players is your top goaltender, there is almost nothing you can do. Quick is having the worst year of his career by far posting career lows in almost every statistical category. This will be the first season excluding his rookie year that his GAA is above 3.00 (currently 3.17) and his sv% is below .900 (currently .896). His numbers are no doubt affected by the lack of speed in front of him, but he is playing far below his potential.
After looking at contracts on the Kings’ books, they are seriously screwed. Carter, Brown, Kovalchuk, and Dion Phaneuf all have a minimum of two years left on their deals. The Kings have zero wiggle room to sign younger players over the next two seasons and will have to start looking to trade their big contracts, fast. Their only hope is to endure the next two years of hell and make smarter decisions when their older players become free agents. Maybe then can they put together another group that can bring a third Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles area? Because we all know the Ducks have no shot to be next.
3. McDavid Gets Suspended
Possibly the biggest news in the hockey world right now is the two-game suspension of Oiler’s superstar, Connor McDavid. McDavid was suspended for his hit to the head of Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy last Thursday.
I’ll be honest, I usually stray from criticizing players for illegal hits unless they are egregious. It’s almost impossible for anyone watching on TV to try and gauge the intent McDavid or anyone charged with an illegal hit. I was surprised that the league suspended McDavid, who is a first-time offender. McDavid has a squeaky-clean image and is the face of the league. For him to get a two-game suspension for the first questionable offense of his career is shocking. The league usually gives stars special treatment, but this feels like the opposite. Maybe the league is trying to send a message that if they can suspend McDavid, they won’t hesitate to suspend anyone. I hope that McDavid doesn’t get tied up in any more trouble because I’m a big fan of his. It will be interesting to see how the league reacts to similar hits in the future.
4. Nick Jensen Gets Traded… and Paid
Last Friday, the Detroit Red Wings traded defensemen, Nick Jensen, and a 2019 fifth-round pick to the Washington Capitals for defensemen, Madison Bowey, and a 2020 second-round pick. The Caps then signed Jensen to a four-year deal worth $10 million. As a Red Wings fan, I’m warm-to-hot on the trade. I do want the Wings to trade all of their impending free agents for assets. Jensen was one name that I wouldn’t mind if he had stayed and signed an extension.
I would have liked for the Wings to keep Jensen because he is a good player, would come cheap, and is a right-handed shot. The analytics also favor him which made him an attractive trade chip. That being said, I don’t think it’s a bad deal for the Wings. The second-round pick they received could pay huge dividends for a guy they might not have re-signed in the offseason.
For the Capitals, this is a huge deal. They are obviously looking to make another run at the cup and draft picks don’t hold as much value. They added a really solid piece to their blueline without giving up that much and extended him for cheap. This could be a great deal for both teams. Best case scenario, the Capitals win another cup with Jensen and the Wings use that pick to net a player that contributes at the NHL level.
5. Shane Doan’s #19 Retired
Another week, another jersey retirement ceremony. Longtime Phoenix/Arizona Coyote’s Captain, Shane Doan, had his number 19 raised to the rafters last night at Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. Doan was drafted seventh overall in the 1995 NHL draft by the Winnipeg Jets and stuck with the franchise through their move to Phoenix until his retirement. Doan is franchise’s all-time leader in games, goals, assists, points, and game-winning goals. Doan scored 20+ goals in a season 13 times and scored above 70 points twice. He also captained the team from 2003 until he retired after the 2016-17 season. He might not have been the most talented player in Coyotes history, but he was certainly the most important.
Doan was one of my all-time favorite NHL players. I grew up with some family friends in the Phoenix area so I became fond of the Coyotes. Doan, being the franchise mainstay, always played the game the right way and scored some big goals. I saw him play twice in person during his career and thankful I was able to. Doan’s is 100 percent worthy of having his jersey retired by the franchise and I’m happy to see it happen. Congratulations to Shane Doan on the honor and to a great career! ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.