The New York Islanders are going to need another top center (among other things) if they want to become a contending team in the near future. Fortunately for the Islanders, there is one available on the trade market and his name is Matt Duchene.
When John Tavares left the New York Islanders this past summer it created a hole at center for the blue and orange. Currently, Brock Nelson (unrestricted free agent at season’s end) is one of the Isles top two pivots. Will the light bulb go on for Nelson under Barry Trotz? Odds are he is not a long-term answer at center.
While the Isles have some exciting forward prospects in the pipeline, they are all wingers. Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom look like they will be a big part of the Isles future core. But neither are centers nor is Josh Ho-Sang.
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Unless somehow the Isles wind up with the #1 overall pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, so they can select Jack Hughes, Lou Lamoriello is going to have to go outside the organization to land a top center.
Turn Eberle into Duchene
By all indications the Ottawa Senators will be moving Matt Duchene between now and the NHL Trade Deadline in late February. The third overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft is slated to become a UFA at the end of the season.
Clearly, based on what Ottawa received in the Erik Karlsson deal with San Jose, everyone in the league knows what they are looking for. They want draft picks, prospects, and young players on their entry-level contracts.
But this is where Lou should get creative in landing Duchene. Lou should either package futures along with Jordan Eberle to Ottawa for Duchene or move Eberle to another team for futures and send those north of the border along with their own future asset or two. This works for Ottawa because structuring the deal like this could net them as many as four assets.
Like Nelson and Anders Lee, Eberle is scheduled to become a UFA at the end of the year. It’s been reported the Isles and Lee are closing in on a long-term deal. If Lee signs and with Bellows and Wahlstrom going to be a part of the Isles top-six in the near future, that doesn’t leave much room for Eberle who turns 29 at the end of this season.
If Lou trades for Duchene obviously he must sign him to a long-term extension. While Duchene is not a superstar, he is in the prime of his career (turns 28 in January), is a 60 point player, and he plays a two-way game. He would be a perfect fit under Trotz’s system.
However, the Isles can’t trade future assets for Duchene unless he is going to be part of the long-term answer for the blue and orange.
Duchene, the Islanders, and Ottawa all seem like an ideal fit for each other. Using Eberle to land Duchene also would greatly reduce the Isles cost in terms of trading their own draft picks and prospects.