New York Islanders target Matt Duchene had some vague comments about his future with the Colorado Avalanche. This seems like too little too late. Are we over Matt Duchene yet?
It’s not to say that the New York Islanders don’t need a player like Matt Duchene. A former 30 goal scorer, 70 point potential, above 60% faceoff win percentage and some serious power play abilities. What team wouldn’t want that?
Getting that kind of talent is another questions. For the better part of two years, the New York Islanders have been linked to a trade for Matt Duchene in some form or another. But here we are and no deal has been done.
It’s not like the Islanders haven’t tried. Reports indicate that the Isles offered the Avalanche a decent package for the third overall pick in the 2009 NHL draft. But GM Joe Sakic wanted none of it.
Since Frans Nielsen departed in free agency back in 2016 there’s been a hole in the Islanders lineup at the number two center position. Matt Duchene would obviously fill that void perfectly. But with every day that Islanders fans are teased with some sort of new angle and nothing happens, that’s another step toward: “to heck with him”.
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Moving Forward. Without Him.
Like yesterday for example. Matt Duchene was again asked about his tenure with the Colorado Avalanche. He answered with an incredibly vague, and because of the evolution of the situation, a borderline passive aggressive comment about what team he’ll identify with.
Speaking to (whatever the source), Duchene had the following to say:
"“My identity will be with a team come training camp. I don’t know what team that is yet.”"
That could mean everything as much as it can mean nothing. Joe Sakic seems dead set to get his exact price for Duchene. Whatever that price is exactly, we know that its exorbitant considering the asset he’s looking to give up is a pending UFA with decreasing numbers.
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But at this point, the Islanders are almost better off just seeing what their rookies have to offer. The Isles don’t have a recognized second line NHL center on their roster right now.
They have a number of patchwork solutions. Players like Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey can play second line center, but that doesn’t mean they should.
For months I’ve said if Mathew Barzal makes the New York Islanders roster out of camp he should be given the team’s third line duties. I liked the idea of sheltering him with easier matchups and easing him into one of the more difficult positions to learn in the NHL.
But I’m starting to shift on that. As the prospect of the Isles landing a quality second line center such as Matt Duchene dwindles I’m resigning myself to letting Barzal fly on that second line.
Why not? I have a hard time seeing the Islanders playing Barzal at any other position than center in 2017-18. So why not the second line? Why not give him the increased responsibilities?
Let the kid who had to learn a hard lesson after being sent back to the WHL in 2016-17 show the franchise he’s everything they and the fan base think he can be.
I’m not over the prospect of landing Matt Duchene. I’ve just resigned myself to the prospect of the New York Islanders biggest offseason move being the acquisition of Jordan Eberle.