As we all know by now, on Sunday night the Ottawa Senators completed a three-way trade with Nashville and Colorado. Kyle Turris ended up a Predator. Matt Duchene ended up a Senator. Three picks and three prospects ended up…an Avalanche? I’ve never thought about this before, but it’s weirdly hard to personify that team’s name. “I’m super happy to be…an Avalanche” doesn’t really work. You came here for the hard-hitting analysis. We’re bringing it.
Look, I like Turris a lot. I loved watching him play, and he’s had his share of big-game moments. He’ll be missed. But I’m shocked – SHOCKED – by the degree to which some are spinning this as a loss for Ottawa.
I think there’s a tendency to look at assets in a vacuum. How much is a first-rounder worth? Let’s give it a number. Then let’s add up all the numbers of all the assets and produce a score. Ottawa gave up four things and got one thing, so that’s a loss, etc. There are two issues here. The first is the way we routinely overvalue picks and prospects. The second is the way we ignore context.
There are some surprising parallels here with the Zibanejad-for-Brassard deal. They had a player due a contract whose market value would be multi-year – enough so to carry them into the middle of what would be Karlsson’s next contract. You can commit to that deal and then hope to hell you can get Karlsson done, or you can clear the decks for Karlsson and fill in other players around him. Having Duchene, Brassard, and Karlsson all up at once is helpful. They can fill around Karlsson or, if he leaves, they have the option to launch a rebuild.
With Turris, they could go into next year with Turris on a long and expensive deal, or go into next season without their top-line center and maybe get a 2nd rounder for him at the deadline instead. Neither of those is an enviable choice. So instead, they looked to include Turris with other assets to get a player who is at least as good, if not better, and in a league where it’s notoriously difficult to get a deal done, they pulled it off while dumping salary and without losing any of their best prospects. That’s commendable. To me, it’s hard not to see turning your 28-year-old center who’s not interested in re-signing into a 26-year-old center with arguably a higher ceiling as a win, and yet it seems hard for some to see it that way. Remember when we thought Noesen and Puempel were future cornerstones? I guess all I can say is that we’ll check in with Shane Bowers in a few years and see where this deal is at.
Honestly, I don’t understand the deal as much from Nashville’s perspective, and they’re receiving routine praise. They gave $36M and six years to Turris, a 2nd line center, and gave up two prospects and a pick in the process. They could have waited until the deadline, or even the UFA bidding period, when better centers like Tavares might be available, to fill that need. I know they went to the Finals and are trying to win now, but they’ve taken on possibly more risk than Ottawa here. They better hope that Turris can contribute at 34. As some have pointed out, they probably could have thrown in a 1st rounder and just gotten Duchene.
Colorado, meanwhile, receives a wing and a prayer. Girard could be something, but a 5-10, 160lb offensive defensemen doesn’t set my world on fire unless he turns out to be the second coming of Karlsson, who is a Magical Freak (and Mind Freak). A 1st that’s top-10 protected, two depth prospects, a couple of later picks AND they have to eat a $1.5M AHL goaltender who they don’t even want to come to Colorado, straight up lending him to the team they just acquired him from… It’s a deec return – six things for one thing is, by my math, definitely more things. But let’s not act like they got Chabot. They did not get Chabot.
Every team got what they’re looking for. Nobody got robbed. I know that makes it less interesting but, don’t worry: Bergevin will probably make another trade soon. Price straight up for Lundqvist?
It’s funny that after a year of “Announce Duchene” not-so-jokey jokes on The Sensphere, the day after one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent franchise history goes down AND THEY ACTUALLY GET HIM the conversation seems to be mostly centered around Kyle Turris’ new contract with Nashville. Additionally, that it has a particular bent on speculation surrounding Dorion’s inability to reach a deal with number 7’s camp on an extension. It makes sense but frankly, I’m a bit shocked at the lack of “Holy fuck, Dorion just landed the most coveted player on the market!” Am I the only one who’s actually shocked this thing even happened? I would have thought the Habs tepid performance coupled with Marc Bergevin’s inability to be good at his job meant he was going to outbid everyone for Duchene out of sheer desperation. Dorion actually managed to pull it off and get us the new toy we all asked for on Annual Gift Day.
I mean, it’s understandable to react negatively given the full scope of the trade. No one wants to lose a beloved player even in the process of trading for a very good one. Still, in the melancholy haze of parting ways with a guy who made huge contributions to the culture on and off the ice [seriously do any Sens fans even dislike Turry? Your boi is LIKED], I hope Sens fans don’t lose sight that the Duchene trade has the potential to be one of pretty significant consequence. And I say that as someone who owns a Kyle Turris jersey! (Note: If you see me in my Turris jersey at CTC gone off my 5th shot of Ducce in the second intermission respect my agency and approach me like an ursine manimule).
K, here’s where shit’s about to get pizzadelic on that ass: You know what this trade reminds me of? Heatley for Hossa. Uh oh, I can actually feel every eye reading this watering up with blood of Mother Gaya, but hear me out. Those of us who were in our late 40s at the time of the Heatley for Hossa (RIP Gregg DeVry) swap can harken back to a time before Hossa was a Stanley Cup Champ and general playoff hero and Heatley was scoring machine with all the talent in the world desperately in need of a change of scenery. Back then I was bummed to lose Hossa’s reliable brand of hockey you can set your watch to, but that sadness was quickly overshadowed by the fact that a DEEC Sens team desperate to make some REAL-REAL noise in their window of goodness just picked up a player with a dynamism to his game (dynamism = insane shooting ability) that’s hard to come by. Sure Dany (sic) Heatley sells timeshares in Baden-Baden now but NO ONE missed Hossa when big homie was doing NUMBERS with Spezza and Alfie. The team with Heatley also got as deep into the postseason as our beloved team ever has. It wasn’t perfect but it was damn fun and great while it lasted.
Turris is one of my favorite players because he plays a game pretty much without flaw. He is extremely competent at nearly all aspect of the game. Shootouts, faceoffs, d zone exits, clutch play, consistent play. Like I said, I love him. The thing I can’t stop thinking about is how the Sens just upgraded their speed and scoring power at centre without surrendering their three blue chip prospects; Chabot, White n’ Brown. Sure they gave up some stuff. The promising Shane Bowers and a first and a third were surrendered but does anyone seriously think a deal like this goes down by trading away Andreas Englund and future considerations? With Duchene, I cant help but keep thinking about that dynamic element of his game. Even if Duchene turns out to be “extremely fast Kyle Turris” that…sounds amazing?
What I think I like most about this trade is that after a surprise run to the Conference Final last season it’s a bit of a “Fuck it, let’s get wild while the times is a-gettin’” move. I don’t know what the team is going to look like in future but honestly, when we have one of the best players on earth in his prime on the roster for a good price it’s probably time to do something bold like this.
Sorry for holding up this Roundtable guys, but it’s taken me a few days to separate what I think from what I feel. Acquiring an Olympic-calibre player for whom I have been very publicly clamouring at the cost of losing a near-legendary team fixture who is beloved by the community is some very Wishing-On-A-Monkey-Paw type shit. Add to this the unusually public nature of the trade negotiations and the fact that this deal went from dead to extremely alive over the span of about 48 hours, and one can see why it would take a minute to recover from the emotional whiplash.
That said, this trade has not been without foreshadowing. For one thing, Kyle Turris’s name had been floating around in trade rumours for a few months now (One rumour I heard was that Turris was all but on a plane to St. Louis before Robby Fabbri’s knee disintegrated), so we’ve all had some time to get used to The Idea of trading Kyle Turris. Additionally, Ottawa’s been connected to Matt Duchene for nearly two years. None of this came completely from left field. Yet, somehow when Ottawa traded the player they’d been quietly shopping for the player for whom they’d been publicly lusting, it felt like a shock. I think I know why this is: Bryan Murray never would have done it.
The Bryan was always fiercely loyal to His Guys, sometimes to the detriment of the organization’s long-term potential. Giving a declining Kyle Turris, a community pillar who is good on the ice but not elite, a 6+ year contract to keep him in Ottawa well into his mid-30s is exactly the sort of move no one would have blinked at three years ago. However, it is also the sort of move that would have done nothing to improve the team on the ice, and if there’s one thing we can say about Pierre Dorion, it’s that he’s always looking to improve his team.
I gotta say this for Pierre Dorion: every move he’s made has improved the team in the short term. Even a trade I hate, Burrows for Dahlen, immediately allowed Guy Boucher to ice a better lineup. It is virtually undisputed that Matt Duchene is an upgrade over Kyle Turris, so shout out to Pierre Dorion. He did it again; the Senators are better today than they were yesterday.
And now we must ask the question, that everyone else is trying to answer: Yes, the Senators are better today, but at what cost?
First off, I want to put a bracket around the Andrew Hammond + 3rd Round Pick part of the trade. As far as I’m concerned, Andrew Hammond was a salary dump, and the 3rd round pick was what it cost to make it happen1. This means that as far as Ottawa is concerned, the business end of this trade boils down to Turris + a 1st round pick + Shane Bowers for Matt Duchene. Advantages for Ottawa include Top 10 protection on the 1st round pick in case they accidentally win the draft lottery, and the fact Shane Bowers isn’t even the most hyped-up prospect Ottawa drafted this year. A charitable reading of this situation, therefore, is that Ottawa traded an expiring contract, a safe low ceiling prospect, and a pick they’d have used to draft a safe low ceiling prospect, for an immediate upgrade at 1C and an extra year of the 1C’s contract.
Just how big is that upgrade? Well, it’s hard to say. Many people have pointed out that over the past three years, Turris and Duchene have had nearly identical production on a per minute basis over the past three seasons. However, only one of those players have had to spend significant time on a line with Matt Nieto, Mikko Rantanen, Mikhail Grigorenko. If Duchene can find the sort of form that got him selected to Team Canada during a 70 point 2013-14 season, Ottawa will quickly forget the name of Shane Bowers and 2018 1st Round Pick. No doubt this is what Dorion and Boucher are hoping for.
Another question I have seen asked is “Why trade an expiring contract for a contract that’s going to expire next year?”. It is my contention that that Duchene’s contract that expires in 2019 is a feature, not a bug. Let’s take a look at CapFriendly. That sure is a lot of contracts expiring in 2019, isn’t it? If, theoretically, you had a player who you needed to sign at any price, wouldn’t it make sense to have a lot dollars available the year he was due to start a new contract?
Essentially, I believe that this season is a dress rehearsal for Ottawa’s 2018-19 season. As a team that is ostensibly not a Cap Team, Ottawa has to pick their spots. A 2018-19 season where they have Derick Brassard and Erik Karlsson on team friendly contracts, Colin White and Thomas Chabot on ELCs, Matt Duchene, Alex Burrows, and Ryan Dzingel on expiring deals, and Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Zack Smith, Bobby Ryan filling out the Top 9 is as close to Going For It as Ottawa can possibly get. Acquiring Matt Duchene is a sure sign that the Senators consider their window open. By getting at least two years of Matt Duchene instead of seven of Kyle Turris, the Senators have improved their short-term prospects while simultaneously maintaining their long-term financial flexibility and ability to keep Erik Karlsson in the organization.
One Closing Thought: I think some people may be upset that Ottawa was so willing to part ways with Kyle Turris, and the fact that a 6 year contract was never proposed by either side may indicate that neither Dorion or Turris were serious about getting a deal done at any cost. However, the opportunity cost of signing Kyle Turris is not signing Matt Duchene. Many highly sought after UFAs stay with the organizations they were just with. Every off-season there are just as many Joe Thorntons and Steven Stamkoses as Patrick Marleaus and Kevin Shattenkirks. If Ottawa can have success over the next 20 months, don’t sleep on Dorion’s ability to get a deal done that could keep Duchene here long term. At worst the acquisition of Matt Duchene pushes Ottawa’s Cup Window open just a little more, but at best it’s a move that will positively shape the franchise for years to come.
1. It’s been amazing to me listening to the media talk about the possibility of Sakic flipping Hammond for more assets, as if Ottawa hasn’t been trying to do that themselves for the better part of a year. Maybe he’ll be able to pull it off, but I doubt it. Either way, it’s not our problem anymore so who cares? *puts finger up to ear piece* Wait, Andrew Hammond is still in Belleville? Well, I guess it is still our problem! In that case, good luck in future endeavors Joe Sakic and, by extension, Andrew Hammond.↩