While defenseman Erik Karlsson headlines the notable list of pending unrestricted free agents on the Senators, center Matt Duchene is also in need of a new deal. He told Lisa Wallace of the Canadian Press that he has spoken with GM Pierre Dorion over the summer about a long-term deal and is hopeful that they can reach an agreement:
I’d love for it to work out. Obviously it’s my home province, three hours from home, Canadian city, it’s a great situation for me so it would be awesome if things could work out that’s for sure.
Duchene was acquired from Colorado in a blockbuster deal that saw Ottawa give up veteran center Kyle Turris (who subsequently signed a long-term extension in Nashville), 2017 first-round pick Shane Bowers, plus their unprotected first-round pick in 2019, among other pieces. With what they gave up, it’s certainly understandable to think that Ottawa will want to get more than just under two years of Duchene’s services in return for that package.
The 27-year-old put up 57 points in 82 games between the Senators and Avalanche last season, matching his best output since 2013-14. A similar performance this upcoming campaign should have him in line to eclipse his current $6M cap hit on the open market.
However, with Ottawa firmly in a rebuilding process, it’s fair to question if locking Duchene up is the best course of action. While the trade market for wingers has been soft this summer, centers are always a premium to acquire, especially one that is a legitimate top-six player. With that in mind, the Sens could certainly recoup some of the prospect capital they gave up in the original trade if they move him at some point in 2018-19.
For the time being, the two sides will likely continue to try to work out a long-term extension. If talks break off though, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his name pop up in trade speculation shortly thereafter.
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