January 04 2017 08:00AM
It's been awful season for the Colorado Avalanche. Not only are they once again one of the worst possession teams in the league, but their goaltending is mediocre and nobody can score. A dry spell when you also get outshot every game sinks a team pretty quickly.
That has the club considering a fresh rebuild. With Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen up front, they are looking to cash in on their collection of young forwards and improve their blueline. According to Elliotte Friedman, Duchene and Landeskog are the most likely guys to be put on the auction block.
The Flames, on the other hand, still need to improve their forward depth. With Troy Brouwer struggling and both Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett running in place this year, Calgary's depth seems even more questionable than it did to start the year. Another quality forward - particularly a center - may help push the team forward.
So the question is: should the Flames consider putting together a package for Matt Duchene?
What would it cost?
As noted by Friedman, the price for Duchene is going to be pretty high:
"Now, if you're asking about Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog, from what I understand, teams have been told they're not giving these guys because they're panicking," said Friedman. "If you want to come at [the Avalanche] with good, young defencemen or prospects, [they] are prepared to listen. But the packages are going to have to be big because they look at both [players] and see good players signed to good contracts."
For the Flames, that means talking about one or more of T.J. Brodie, Brandon Hickey, Adam Fox, Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington.
Brodie is the most obvious target for the Avalanche, because he fits their needs like a glove. The problem from a Flames perspective is they desperately need Brodie. After Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, things fall off a cliff for the team, particularly in Brodie's absence. Without him, the depth chart this season is Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, Jyrki Jokipakka, Tyler Wotherspoon and Brett Kulak. That's rough.
Calgary also needs Brodie to fill the gap next year when they lose Wideman, Engelland and potentially Jokipakka to free agency or Las Vegas. No Brodie means the team has to hope for both a couple of the kids taking a big step forward and landing a big name UFA like Kevin Shattenkirk to rebuild the blueline depth.
On the other hand, the Flames may be able to put together a package featuring a couple of their quality prospects. Hickey likely doesn't move the needle much, but Fox, Andersson and/or Kylington could get the Avs' attention, depending on how highly they rate each of those guys. The Flames would likely have to include a quality draft pick to sweeten the pot to make it work, but at least that would leave their top three rotation in the show untouched.
What does Duchene add?
A moderately good possession pivot and an above average scorer.
To be clearer, Duchene is a first line player when it comes to generating shots, goals and points, but he's fairly lousy when it comes to suppressing shots. Here's how he compares to Monahan:
While the two players have divergent play styles, they have similar outcomes in terms of scoring and outshooting - with the difference being Duchene is a better playmaker and better at generating shots. He also boasted positive WOWYS (with or without you) in terms of both possession and expected goals last year (this means Duchene's linemates mostly did better with him than without him). In contrast, Monahan's were mildly negative in 2014-15.
So a Duchene addition potentially bumps Monahan down the rotation and could also mean Sam Bennett gets moved to the wing. The new depth chart could look something like this:
Gaudreau - Duchene - X (Ferland/Brouwer/Versteeg)
Tkachuk - Backlund - Frolik
Bennett - Monahan - X (Ferland/Brouwer/Versteeg)
Of course, that also means three forwards making $6M+ per year up front in Johnny Gaudreau, Monahan and Duchene, creating very real budget concerns (especially when Mikael Backlund and Sam Bennett have to be re-signed), but one problem at a time.
There's lots of considerations here. If the Avs ask for Brodie as a starting point, are you willing to listen? Alternatively, which of the Flames' defensive prospects would you be willing to package together? And would you be willing to manage the pending cap crunch with Duchene in the fold?