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During Hockey Night in Canada last night, there was an update regarding the Matt Duchene contract situation. In December we had heard that talks were had between his agent Pat Brisson and Pierre Dorion, but now it appears as if there isn’t much momentum towards a new deal. Chris Johnston had this to say on the matter:
“It’s quite interesting that the talks between the Ottawa Senators and Matt Duchene – their pending unrestricted free agent – have appeared to have cooled off. There doesn’t appear to have been anything of substance here in recent times and no talks immediately scheduled in the weeks ahead.
Pierre Dorion, the general manager, doesn’t want to place any sort of deadline on when he needs an answer on Matt Duchene’s intentions – whether will he sign an extension – but clearly, as this slides along here, we are looking at him as a potential target in that trade deadline period and someone that the Senators are going to have to make a decision on because I don’t get the sense from Duchene’s side that there’s any rush for them to make that kind of decision”
That’s obviously not something fans want to hear, even if that is not the worst news in the world. Duchene has never said that he will 100% not re-sign in Ottawa, but the fact that no substantive talks have occurred and that they don’t plan to have any is concerning. The Senators have to
have an answer about Duchene (and Stone and Dzingel for that matter) by February 25th, because after that date, they risk losing him for nothing if they cannot come to terms on a new contract.
So with nothing planned for the next few weeks, that essentially leaves one month for Dorion and the Senators to convince Duchene to stay. They can’t just offer him a basic 8x8 contract either, they need to give him bonuses and tell him what the plan is moving forward so that he can be comfortable signing long-term with this organization. Considering where the Senators sit right now though, it’d be hard to convince any player to be optimistic about where the team will be in the future.
Before the season began, I predicted that Duchene would be gone before the deadline, and if Dorion is getting the indication that he probably does not want to stay unless they blow away everybody in terms of money (which would never happen), the best course of action is probably to trade him. It’s not as if they should move on from him, but if they have no chance of signing him, then the longer they wait for a trade, the less they will get in return. Sure, there is a chance that a team will overpay at the deadline, but then Dorion also risks getting nothing at all if no teams are willing to pony up on February 25th.
Trading Duchene will set the team back a year or two and keeping him is certainly the best case scenario because he has been fantastic for the Senators. However, losing him for nothing in free agency would be a catastrophic situation considering what they gave up to acquire him. Sometimes you have to know when to cut your losses, and if Dorion has no hope, he should look at trade options as soon as possible.
I’m hoping that there is still a chance that he can be re-signed, but this report does not make me confident.