Colorado Avalanche: Time to Trade Matt Duchene

Matt Duchene has given heart and soul to the Colorado Avalanche.  Now it’s time they trade him.

Matt Duchene’s first year in the NHL came the season after Joe Sakic’s retirement from the league.  For the Colorado Avalanche, this was a time of transition, and Matt Duchene was its new face.

Eight seasons later, Duchene is still in the fold, while the franchise is still looking for its identity.  In those eight seasons, Duchene has played in only eight playoff games, and has never scored in the playoffs.

This doesn’t seem right for Duchene, who seemed perfect for the franchise when he was picked 3rd overall in the 2009 draft.  Not only was he a future star, but grew up idolizing the Colorado Avalanche.

What seemed like a perfect fit, hasn’t been.  While Duchene has seen personal success in the NHL, and has won a pile of gold medals for Canada, success for the Colorado Avalanche has been elusive.

Now the Avs find themselves the worst team in the league, ready for a shakeup.  This should come by trading Matt Duchene.

GM Joe Sakic has stated that Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost are the only untouchables on the team.

Other than that, everyone else is fair game, with rumors recently centering around Gabe Landeskog and Duchene.  Both players will receive attention from other teams, so the Avs should focus on moving Duchene.

This is hard to write considering Duchene is not only the Avs most committed player, but has also arguably been the best the last two seasons.

It seems counterintuitive trading your best player, but the Avs need a culture change, and Duchene represents the best opportunity to achieve this.

Although he never played with Sakic, Duchene is a holdout from that era of Colorado Avalanche history in which excitement and dominance were expected.

Now, with the trade of Cody McCleod to the Nashville Predators, Duchene is the longest tenured member of the Colorado Avalanche.

For the man who was once anointed the future of the franchise, this is another honor to his commitment to the Avs.  However, it is also a sign that he needs to go.

The Avs need a fresh start and a clean cut from the past.  The Avs have lived in the glories of the past and have never moved forward culturally. This sentamentalism has become a burden for the franchise.

This culture was passed onto Duchene, who has carried the torch of high skill and expectations for the franchise.  Ironically, Duchene’s commitment to the franchise is what means he has to go.

While Duchene gives heart and soul to the team every night.  He’s surrounded by players that skate with less conviction.

Simply, Duchene is too good for this team, and his talents are being wasted each year he misses the playoffs.

By trading Duchene the Colorado Avalanche can move forward from the glory days and officially hand the reigns over to MacKinnon, who has become the face of the franchise.  Now the Avs need to make if official.

Not only does moving Duchene make symbolic sense, it’s also logical.

According to TSN analyst Darren Dreger, Sakic is asking for a top-level defenseman, a first-round pick and something else for either Duchene or Landeskog.

Of these two, Duchene would likely get the closest to this return.   Unlike Landeskog, Duchene has proven he can score consistently and has a tantalizing skill set.

Any team trading for Duchene will know that they are getting a first line forward who will compete and score and may be able to produce even more with support from a winning team.

Additionally, Landeskog has more value to this team than Duchene.  Yes, being the captain is part of this, but so his his power-forward skill set.

Although Duchene’s talent is immense, MacKinnon plays the same role and has a higher ceiling than Duchene.  It doesn’t make sense to keep two small speedy centers.

Finally, Duchene deserves an opportunity to play for a competitor.  After giving so much to the franchise, Sakic should do him a favor and move him to a team that will value him and give him a chance to play in the postseason.

Duchene has been involved in trade rumors for over a year now.  Undoubtedly there is interest.  Some reports suggest that Ottawa, Montreal and Carolina have expressed interest, although the list is likely longer.

By moving Duchene, the Colorado Avalanche have the opportunity to add valuable pieces for next year, but more importantly, can turn the page on the past and the expectations and culture that accompany it.

Personally, I see Carolina being a good trading partner.  They have a glut of defensive prospects and might also be willing to move winger, Elias Lindholm as part of a package.

Lindholm was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft, but may have lost his role in the top six to other young and talented Carolina forwards.

A package of one of Carolina’s defensive prospects, possibly Haydn Fleury, Elias Lindholm plus a draft pick would be a worthy return for Duchene.

Since the start of the season, the Colorado Avalanche have led a marketing campaign entitled “Next Era”.  Trading Matt Duchene would truly usher this era in.

While it would be sad to see Matt go, the Avs would be have the chance for a fresh start and new culture built led by MacKinnon and Landeskog.

While Duchene is an incredible part of Colorado Avalanche history, his role has become redundant, and it’s time to move on.

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