Over at the Denver Post, Mark Kiszla offers up an idea that would’ve sounded crazy two years ago:
Should the Avalanche think about trading Matt Duchene?
Duchene, 21, is less than two years removed from a 24-goal, 55-point debut season (at age 18, no less) that saw him make the NHL’s All-Rookie team and finish third in Calder voting.
He followed that up with a solid sophomore campaign — career highs in goals, assists and points — before last year’s frustrating, injury-riddled campaign.
According to Kiszla, Colorado’s issue isn’t so much with Duchene as its wealth of talent down the middle.
The Avs also have first-line center Paul Stastny — on the books for $6.6 million annually until 2014 — and Ryan O’Reilly, who had a breakout season in 2011-12: 18G-37A-55PTS, finished 14th in Selke voting.
From The Post:
Duchene is the center who makes the most sense for the Avs to trade.
His flash would be an easy sell for a GM in another market. At 21 years old, his potential stirs the imagination. His new two-year, $7 million contract is easy to digest under the salary cap.
It’s as obvious as the grimace on the face of coach Joe Sacco that Duchene is simply not the type of player the Avs thought they were getting with the No. 3 selection in the 2009 draft. I like Duchene. But isn’t it apparent Colorado management likes O’Reilly more?
Duchene quietly signed his deal on Day 2 of the NHL Entry Draft, a move that raised eyebrows because 1) it was so short, 2) it was relatively cheap and 3) it had a Kyle Turris-ian feel to it — a young guy inking a cap-friendly contract that could facilitate a trade further down the road.
(Of note, Turris signed his two-year extension with Phoenix on Nov. 22. On Dec. 17, he was traded to Ottawa.)
If you’re wondering what potential trade partner would be willing to dance, Kiszla brings up a good match in Anaheim — specifically, a move for Bobby Ryan.
The Ducks could use depth down the middle (Saku Koivu or Andrew Cogliano project to be the No. 2 center) and the Avs could certainly use a goalscoring winger to play alongside Stastny and/or O’Reilly.