Intermission hockey on Saturday night in Canada is a time for the movers and shakers to talk some rumors and analysis and Sportsnet was on fire tonight.
Said Nick Kypreos about the ongoing situation with what many believe is the impending fire-sale of the Colorado Avalanche:
Listen, Matt Duchene, those deals are hard to make. Usually when you're dealing with star players that have magnitude, that deal happen at the NHL draft or even in the off-season. But there is some thought that Joe Sakic's pushing really hard, some people are even suggesting that Jimmy Rutherford might even take a run at him. Feeling is that they're still always looking at scoring for Sidney Crosby. Will [GMJR] have enough pieces, can he shed enough of that salary to move in a guy like Duchene at $6 million dollars.
Friend of Pensburgh, Elliotte Friedman then chimed in:
I had a chance to speak with Jim Rutherford yesterday, not specifically about Duchene, but I did ask him, "could you add somebody with term?" and he said "I will do anything I can to win and if I have to sort it out after the season, I will do that."
Also on Marc-Andre Fleury, [Rutherford] reiterated that it is his desire to keep him this year as insurance in case Matt Murray is not healthy, although he [GMJR] does recognize Fleury's desire is to play.
Immediately then Kypreos followed up with some more information:
Again, Joe Sakic wanting as many as three pieces - a top draft pick, a prospect and a maybe even a top defenseman. That's what is on his wish-list of getting someone back, maybe a guy like Derrick Pouliot who was a first rounder.
Friedman jumped in
I don't know if you can sell that, Pouliot for Duchene
To which Kypreos continued in the give-and-take:
Throw in a goalie?
Pouliot and Fleury sounds a bit better, if you want to say that
First of all, Semyon Varlamov - who played very well this season but just had major hip surgery recently, still has two more years at a $5.9 million cap hit. Unless they suspect he's going to be LTIR or returning to Russia, it's hard to imagine that Colorado would be all that interested in Fleury.
Second, if it was truly Pouliot+Fleury for a difference maker like Matt Duchene, that trade happens yesterday, no-brainer for the Pens. The cost probably has to be more than that.
It's probably best to zero in on what Kypreos said earlier, the Avs want 3 pieces (high pick + prospect + top defenseman) for Duchene. If they would be willing to accept an unestablished NHL'er like Pouliot as the piece that represents Kypeos's "top defenseman", that probably makes a trade worth thinking about for Pittsburgh. Send Pouliot, a 2017 1st round pick, and salary considerations and that's shaping up like a workable deal.
I'm not noodling this too hard, but with the Pens cap, it seems pretty clear that Duchene ($6.0 million in) would have to necessitate close to $6.0 million out. And wouldn't you know it, Carl Hagelin ($4.0m) plus Eric Fehr ($2.0m) makes it an even trade monetarily. Whether of not that's how they would make the numbers work, I have no idea, but the math sure is tidy there.
Hagelin+Fehr+ Pouliot +1st (plus maybe a prospect*) for Matt Duchene would be a heavy price to pay. It would be very similar to Amrstrong+Christensen+Esposito+1st for Marian Hossa. That was also a bold move and it paid off mightily. And, unlike Hossa, Duchene is signed for 2 more seasons which adds a lot more value to him.
*I would assume that prospect is not Jake Guentzel or Daniel Sprong but pretty much a rung lower. Maybe even an Oskar Sundqvist/Dominik Simon /Teddy Blueger type of prospect (all of whom are very valuable. Sucks but it takes something to get something).
Will the Penguins actually pull the trigger on a major move to bring Matt Duchene in? Probably not. But the well-sourced Canadian journalists can tell that Rutherford is sniffing around and seeing what is out there to improve the team. It will likely be until the March 1st deadline to see.
(Also, as a late throw-in, how about that Fleury talk. Seems like even if a formal trade request isn't in, everyone knows that MAF wants to play. Do the Pens move him and grant that wish? Is anything even out there? So many questions, so little answers until the deadline passes and a trade either happens or it doesn't. Nice to see though that again for about the 1,000th time, GMJR has said openly again that he wants to keep Fleury for the rest of this season. Really shows that if a trade happens, it'll be to accommodate the player and let him get his wish to move on.)