Joe Sakic told Matt Duchene to be patient, that the trade he asked for would come at some point.
It finally did as the Colorado Avalanche traded Duchene to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night in a pair of deals that also included Kyle Turris going to the Nashville Predators. With the Duchene saga over, he joins the Senators as their new No. 1 center, Turris gives the Predators more depth down the middle and the Avalanche push forward with their rebuilding youth movement.
“It’s bittersweet for sure, but I’m excited for a new opportunity in Ottawa,” Duchene said as he left Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “(The Senators) have a team that can win a Stanley Cup. I’m really excited to go there and just nothing but a pleasure to have played here for Colorado.”
Colorado gets top prospects Samuel Girardi and Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 second-round pick from Nashville, and prospect Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond and a 2018 first- and 2019 third-round picks from Ottawa. Sakic said the Senators first-round pick was top-10 protected.
Duchene is signed through 2018-19 at a salary-cap hit of $6 million. But Sakic said Duchene requested a trade last Christmas, and he has been talking to teams about moving him ever since.
“It’s been a while, but we wanted to make sure we had the right deal,” Colorado’s general manager said. “I think it worked for all three teams. Ottawa wanted Matt really bad, and Kyle Turris was the perfect fit for what Nashville’s trying to do and we’re trying to build this up and get younger and have our kids grow together.”
After the deals were completed, Turris signed a $36 million, six-year extension with Nashville that keeps him under contract through 2023-24. Nashville, which went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, lost winger James Neal to Vegas in the expansion draft but could afford to sign Turris because of that cap space.
Predators GM David Poile called Turris, 28, one of the best two-way centers in the NHL.
“He should be a great fit in our locker room and will bolster our lineup and give us the depth that’s necessary during the regular season and the playoffs,” Poile said. “He is someone who can play in all situations and will help us tremendously on both ends of the ice. He will give our coaching staff a number of options in terms of offensive production and defensive responsibilities.”
Duchene has four goals and six assists in 13 games this season and 178 goals and 250 assists in 585 NHL games, all with Colorado. He’ll play his first game with the Senators on Friday against the Avalanche in Stockholm, which could be a weird meeting after Duchene spent so much time in limbo.
“We’re going to still focus on winning hockey games and focus on doing that with the guys that want to be here,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said after a 6-4 loss to the Islanders. “Obviously, Matt had his opinions and reasons for whatever happened, but I think for the guys that are here, we want to try to win and we want to change this thing around with this team.”
Duchene had a good idea in recent days something was coming, and coach Jared Bednar was prepared with different lineups in case a trade went down. Sakic said he, Poile and Senators GM Pierre Dorion had been talking for a long time, so it was hard to find anyone surprised that Duchene is no longer with the Avalanche.
But Duchene’s exit came in unique fashion as he found out on the bench during the game and left the ice with injured Colorado forward Blake Comeau 9:21 into the first period.
“I kind of knew before they told me,” Duchene said. “I saw them talking on the bench. It’s very strange, but I kind of half-expected it to be the weirdest way possible. It’s one of those things — it’s a business and I’ll have good story for people one day.”
— Freelance reporter Christian Arnold in New York contributed to this report.