Should the NY Islanders buy into Matt Duchene after Preds buy out?

Nashville Predators v New York Islanders
Nashville Predators v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

As speculation continues surrounding the NY Islanders and who will be part of the roster come opening night, a new name has entered the rumor mill. The Nashville Predators have bought out the final three seasons of Matt Duchene's contract, making him a free agent.

Now 32 years old, Duchene signed a seven-year contract with Nashville in 2019, and a cap hit of $8M per season. Just two seasons ago, Duchene had the most productive output of his career, scoring 43 goals and adding 43 assists. His numbers took a dive last season, finishing with just 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) on an injury-ridden Predators team.

Coming up as a center upon entering the league, Duchene has shifted to the wing over the past few seasons. Just two years off a 43-goal season, the former third-overall pick could be a potential fit on the Islanders' top line alongside Bo Horvat and Mat Barzal.

While the prospect of Duchene is all fine and dandy, he'll have the option to pick his next destination and will likely command more than the league minimum. With just over $10M available in cap space before an expected extension with goaltender Semyon Varlamov, the Isles may not have the room under the cap to add a player of Duchene's caliber. Getting a deal done could involve more roster manipulation, possibly moving a player like JG Pageau.

The Isles chased Duchene in the trade market in 2019, reportedly turning down an offer from the Colorado Avalanche that would have sent mat Barzal to the Mile High City. Oddly enough, he was eventually traded to the Ottawa Senators, being pulled from the ice midway through a game at Nassau Coliseum.

Lou Lamoriello, as well as former Isles Head Coach and current Predators General Manager Barry Trotz, have been big components of locker room culture during their illustrious careers. This is not a cheap decision for Trotz and the Preds as they will be paying Duchene over the next six seasons, including cap hits of $5.56M in 24-25 and $6.65M in 25-26 - leaving one to wonder if there was friction with Duchene and the staff in Nashville, as there has been with some of his previous teams.

In 2018 a video surfaced of Duchene and his Senators teammates in an Uber trashing then Senators' Assistant Coach, Martin Raymond. The players later released a statement apologizing for their actions, claiming they were recorded without their consent.

While Duchene may be a fantastic addition to the Islanders on the ice, much more goes into the thought process than just skill. Lamoriello and his staff will do their due diligence on Duchene, but he may be too far out of the Islanders' price range.