The next NHL game Matt Duchene plays will be as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and it could very well come against his old team.
After sitting out Thursday’s game in New Jersey to protect their asset, the Ottawa Senators sent Duchene and Julius Bergman to the Blue Jackets in exchange for a package that includes a 2019 lottery-protected first-round pick, a 2020 conditional first-round pick, and prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson.
Here are the details on those draft picks:
Should the draft lottery render the 2019 first-round selection a top-three pick, the Senators will receive Columbus’ 2020 first-round selection instead.
If Duchene signs a 2019-20 contract with the Blue Jackets, Ottawa will receive Columbus’ 2020 first-round pick. (If the 2019 pick moves to 2020 as a result of the lottery and Duchene signs with Columbus, the 2020 conditional pick would then move to 2021).
The Blue Jackets and Senators play one another Friday night in Ottawa and Duchene is expected to be in the lineup. (Duchene’s first game after being traded to the Senators last season was against his old club, the Colorado Avalanche.)
The 28-year-old Duchene has spent the last season and a half in Ottawa, scoring 50 goals and recording 107 points in 118 games. He came to the Senators as part of a big early season trade in 2017-18 that was going to push the team forward after their deep Stanley Cup playoff run in 2017. That didn’t go so well, and the Senators tumbled and tumbled and then traded away Erik Karlsson in September after failing to extend him.
General manager Pierre Dorion hoped to re-sign Duchene, along with fellow pending unrestricted free agents Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel, but it appears now all three will be gone by Monday’s 3 p.m. ET NHL trade deadline.
The addition is a bold move for Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Facing a summer where he’ll likely watch Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky walk via free agency, this trade signals he’s all-in on a deep playoff run, which he should be. The franchise has yet to win a playoff series in its history and with all signs pointing to two of their biggest names leaving on July 1, he might as well go for it.
Duchene has given no indication he’d sign an extension in Columbus as of now, but if Kekalainen is pushing all of his chips in for a Stanley Cup run, he can worry about contract talks after the season.