Hard to believe that it's been five years since the famous Matt Duchene trade. I watched the game that featured the trade and even now, I still can't believe what I saw. Even more amazing was the impact left from the deal, which included three teams: the Colorado Avalanche, the Nashville Predators, and the Ottawa Senators. Before I mention that fateful Sunday evening, I have to start this story with the 2016-17 season.
2016-17 was a dream season for the Senators, as they went on their best playoff run since reaching the Stanley Cup Final ten years prior. They ousted the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers in six games each, and in the Eastern Conference Final, they went toe-to-toe with the then-defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, even taking them to double overtime in Game Seven, but Chris Kunitz's shot ended Ottawa's run. It was also a dream season for the Predators, as they upset the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, and also defeated the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history. However, 2016-17 was an absolute nightmare for the Avalanche, as it was their worst season in franchise history, which even includes their years as the Quebec Nordiques. 48 points in the standings. Total.
As an Avalanche fan, I was very embarrassed over that season, but regarding the following year, I was optimistic. The reason: when you fall that far, you have nowhere else to go but up. Apparently, one person who didn't have that attitude was the man in the middle himself, Matt Duchene. Plain and simple, Duchene wanted out. In fact, his exact words: "I want to be on a playoff team." He wanted to be traded during the offseason, but that wouldn't happen, leading to Duchene starting the 2017-18 campaign with the Avalanche. On November 4, 2017, the Avs defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime, with Duchene scoring the OT winner.
Little did I, or any other Avs fan, know that it would be Duchene's last goal with the Avs.
On November 5, 2017, the Avalanche were on the road against the New York Islanders, when the first period saw Duchene suddenly walk down the tunnel, with the following report: he had been traded. The following trade was announced: Matt Duchene went to the Senators, Kyle Turris went to the Predators, but as for the Avalanche, they received Andrew Hammond, Shane Bowers, and a 1st and 3rd round picks from the 2019 Draft from Ottawa, while also receiving Samuel Girard, Vladislav Kamenev, and a 2nd round pick in the 2018 draft from Nashville.
So did Matt Duchene end up with a playoff team? Well...no.
The Senators didn't come close to matching their previous year. They went 28-43-11, totalling 67 points, finishing in seventh place in the Atlantic Division. Regarding Duchene, he had 23 goals and 26 assists, totalling 49 points in 68 games with Ottawa. The following year was worse; too much controversy and turmoil regarding the Senators, which also included video of Duchene and a couple of his teammates actually complaining about how the team is run. So barely a year into his tenure with the Senators, and Duchene was unhappy. That season's deadline saw Duchene traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he would be part of their huge playoff upset sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Duchene had 10 points during the 2019 playoffs (5 G/5 A), with one of them being an OT winner in Game Two against the Boston Bruins. After that season ended, Duchene signed a seven-year deal with the Nashville Predators.
Nothing really changed for the Predators; they remained a perennial playoff team even after the deal. However, the team who ended up benefitting the most? The Colorado Avalanche. Within months after trading Duchene, the Avs went on a winning tear late in the regular season and actually qualified for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, only to be defeated by the Predators in the opening round. The momentum continued on the following year, which saw the Avs win a series for the first time in 11 years, and come within one win of the Final Four.
I mentioned Ottawa's 2018-19 season earlier. What I didn't mention is that the team actually finished with the worst record in the NHL that year, and as a result, the Avalanche (as holders of Ottawa's first round pick in that year's Draft) were actually in the lottery! A team who was one win short of the Final Four was in the Jack Hughes lottery. Colorado didn't win the lottery, but still ended up with the #4 pick, which was used to draft Bowen Byram. The Avs continued to be established as a perennial playoff team, and of course, 2021-22 ended with the Avalanche as Stanley Cup Champions. Byram had nine points (all helpers) in the 2022 playoffs, and ended up hoisting the prestigious trophy over his head, and all of this was because of the Duchene trade and the Senators being absolutely awful.
The Sens' torrid seasons continued on, though they did have some draft luck in 2020. As part of a trading purge, the Senators dealt Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks, taking SJ's 1st round pick in the 2020 Draft. That season ended up paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Senators and Sharks were two of seven teams who failed to qualify for the 24-team playoffs that year. The seven teams would be in the draft lottery, but as a result of the trade, the Senators had two entries in the lottery. They ended up with the 3rd and 5th overall picks, with the former originally belonging to San Jose. Ottawa used the third pick to draft Tim Stutzle, who is currently one of the big offensive players on the team. The Senators spent the 2022 offseason signing big name players left and right, so we could see the team return to some semblance of prominence.
As an Avalanche fan, I'm deliriously happy and still amazed at what the Duchene trade has done for this team; going from the bottom of the barrel to Stanley Cup Champions. As an overall hockey fan, seeing the Senators decline as a result of the trade is a downer, but they do appear to be on the uprise. Regarding the Predators, again, nothing really changed with them, but while they do continue to be a perennial playoff team, they've only won one series since reaching the Final. Overall, the Matt Duchene trade remains a legendary occurrence and story in the NHL, even after five years.
About the Creator
Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy