When the Ottawa Senators traded for Colorado Avalanche star Matt Duchene back in November the feeling amongst NHL fans and analysts was that while Sens general manager Pierre Dorion paid a hefty price, the team was undeniably better for having made the trade. Then… things kind of went sideways on the Sens’ 2017-18 season. Duchene got off to a slow start in Ottawa, goaltender Craig Andersson struggled and captain Erik Karlsson struggled, as well. Put it all in a blender and you’ve got the recipe for disaster.
Just a season after reaching the Eastern Conference Final the Sens are in the basement of the NHL and are now the subject of daily trade rumors… even Don Cherry thinks the team should be relocated to Quebec City. In other words, things are BAD in Ottawa this season. Oh… and did we mention that the team will need to buck up big dollars for pending restricted free-agent Mark Stone this offseason? Not to mention pending unrestricted free-agents Duchene and Karlsson a year from this offseason?
While Karlsson’s story is well covered, little attention has been paid to Duchene’s negotiations this season. That is, until Senators insider Bruce Garrioch managed to get Duchene to open up last night. When asked if he’d be willing to discuss a long-term deal with the team this upcoming offseason, Duchene surprisingly answered, “Absolutely. I’m encouraged from what I see here. Obviously, there’s a whole other business side to approach and I have no idea what that’s going to look like and feel like yet."
Wow… talk about a loyal soldier. I don’t think too many people would blame Duchene if he were looking to make a quick exit from Ottawa at the first chance possible. After all, he made it clear that he was looking to free himself from a toxic situation in Colorado in the hopes of chasing a Stanley Cup with a contender. Then he landed in Ottawa… perhaps the most dysfunctional team in the NHL.
"I guess we’ll see but that’s encouraging to hear that they’re interested and trying to work something out long term,” said Duchene. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here as tough as the season has been for the team. I feel I’ve been able to be more myself than I have in a long time here and it’s been encouraging for me."
While things have been rough for Sens fans this season, this certainly has to be encouraging news. Just imagine this scenario: it’s July 1st, 2018 and the Sens announce long-term extensions for Stone, Duchene and Karlsson, giving the franchise some real long-term stability. Hey… we can only dream…