Sens, Avs, Predators all winners in blockbuster trade

No matter how you dissect the blockbuster trade involving the Senators, Avalanche and Predators one thing is clear to CBC Sports hockey writer Tim Wharnsby: each team will prosper from this mega deal.

Each team will prosper from mega deal

From left to right, Samuel Girard, Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris will greatly improve their respective new teams. (Getty Images/Associated Press)

The Matt Duchene three-team trade that was supposed to have been dead a few days ago rose from ashes on Sunday.

In a strange twist, Duchene left the Colorado Avalanche bench in the first period of a game in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders Sunday to discover that he had been moved to the Ottawa Senators.

For the talented 26-year-old centre, the Senators traded Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators. The Avalanche received defenceman Samuel Girard, left wing Vladislav Kamenev and a second-round selection from Nashville, as well as centre Shane Bowers, goalie Andrew Hammond, first- and third-round picks from the Senators.

There were winners all around.

Although he never publicly demanded a trade, Duchene got his wish and was moved to a contender.

The Eastern Conference-finalist Senators, who have been trying to trade for Duchene for two years, upgraded their roster with the five-foot-11 centre. Turris, meanwhile, was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The Senators also didn't have to give up their top two prospects, Thomas Chabot or Colin White.

The Stanley Cup-finalist Predators bolstered the middle of their lineup with the addition Turris and promptly signed him to a six-year deal worth $36 million US.

The Avalanche not only landed two players that can step right into their lineup, they loaded up three more early draft picks and Bowers, the Senators' first-round pick last June who is in his freshman season at Boston University.

These types of big trades weren't supposed to happen in today's NHL salary cap world. But kudos to Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and his counterparts with the Predators, David Poile, and the Avalanche's Joe Sakic for finding a way to make this blockbuster.

Sure, from a Senators standpoint, it would have been nice to keep Turris at least for the rest of the season. But Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk has imposed a strict budget on his payroll (the Senators are 15th of 31 teams) and the fans have demonstrated their displeasure by not showing up (the Senators are 24th in attendance).

Senators in good place

The Senators, however, are in a good place. The first month has shown that in the wide-open East, they are among the serious contenders with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. And that's with captain Erik Karlsson still working his way into form after off-season foot surgery.

Duchene, who is under contract at $6 million a season through 2018-19, is coming off his worst campaign with 18 goals and 41 points. But he has exhibited, when motivated and on a talented team, that he's among the league's elite.

As a depth player, Duchene won Olympic gold with Canada in 2014. He followed up that experience by being one of Canada's best performers in back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2016, as well as a World Cup of Hockey championship 14 months ago.

Duchene has missed the playoffs in six of his eight seasons, but his speed and skating ability will fit well into the Senators stifling system.

Meanwhile, the addition of Turris definitely will bolster the Predators top-two lines. Nashville has a middling 7-5-2 record out of the gate. It has missed James Neal's production and injured defenceman Ryan Ellis, but Turris gives the Predators a strong middle with Ryan Johansen, Turris and Nick Bonino, while Ellis will return from knee surgery in the new year.

Even with Colorado's loss to the Islanders on Sunday after Duchene's first-period departure, the Avalanche started the season with an 8-6-0 start and now have a chance to grow with Girard, Kamenev, Bowers and the three draft choices.

In an interesting twist, Duchene's first two games with his new team will be against his old team in Sweden later this week.

"It's part of the business and none of this is personal," Duchene said. "I'm very thankful for my new destination and I'm very thankful to [the Avalanche]."


Tim has covered the hockey landscape and other sports in Canada for three decades for CBC Sports, the Globe and Mail and Toronto Sun. He has been to three Winter Olympics, 11 Stanley Cups, a world championship as well as 17 world junior championships, 13 Memorial Cups and 13 University Cups. The native of Waterloo, Ont., always has his eye out for an underdog story.