The offensive woes in Carolina continued to haunt them in their 2-1 loss on Thursday night to the Blackhawks despite getting 40 SOG. Looking at three of the last four losses for Carolina, they have out-shot their opponents 116-67—however, only managed to score four goals on those 116 shots. Many cite the issue to be that the Canes need to have a true “goal-scorer.”
Canes fans thought their cries may have been heard, as recently there was excitement surrounding a trade rumor. GM Ron Francis apparently called Aves GM Joe Sakic and inquired about the cost of Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog. To be honest, when a player like Duchene has rumors surface that they’re being “shopped,” it isn’t rare that almost every NHL GM will call to inquire about the situation.
Despite Duchene certainly being a tempting asset, I think it would be a terrible idea for the Canes to pay such a high price tag. While Duchene has scored 20+ goals in five of his first seven NHL seasons (17G in 47 games in 2012-13), my main issues with him is his size.
The Canes desperately need an offensively skilled forward who creates offense with size, grit and the desire/mindset to “get to the front of the net.” In fact, retired NHL goalie Steve Valiquette recently wrote an article on the value of “net-front presence.” Unfortunately, I don’t see Duchene fitting that description too well. At 5’11 and 25 years-old (26 on the 16th this month), he is very similar to Jeff Skinner.
Statistically, Duchene has just over 100 points more than Skinner, however, has played just shy of 80 more games than Skinner. Based on their averages for points per game (JS=.647 and MD = .756 points per game), Duchene would have about 50-60 more points if Skinner had the same amount of games played.
When looking specifically at goals though, Skinner is only 12 goals behind Duchene—thus, Skinner's career average is .344 goals per game, while Duchene is only at .318. If you use the averages, Skinner would be predicted to have 13 more goals than Duchene at 530 GP. Ultimately, without someone getting in front of the goal, I don’t see players like Skinner/Duchene seeing much of an increase on goal production.
Granted, Duchene does have a bit higher shooting percentage than Skinner, one concern is that Duchene also generates significantly less shots. Skinner, with 1,488 career SOG, actually has 130 more SOG in 70-some less games than Duchene at 1,358. While Duchene may be a bit more of a “natural sniper,” I don’t see him being much more offensively productive than Skinner.
Yes, Duchene bringing in around 25-30 goals and 60-70 points would certainly help the Canes offensively to an extent—however, the real question is at what cost? The most popular names floating around are Slavin, Faulk or Fluery. Not surprisingly, many are using the “trade comp” of Adam Larsson for Taylor Hall or Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen.
Thus, it makes sense that the Canes would have to give up a defensemen that is young and has the potential to play “top-line” minutes. I personally don’t think the Aves would be willing to bite on Fluery, as he is “un-proven” in the NHL, regardless of his size and potential forecast. I imagine that GM Sakic would be looking for another 1st round pick on top of that, given the “risk” and “known production/value” of Duchene.
The other factor going against this potential trade is the fact that Sakic is openly listening to offers—many NHL teams are in the mix for Duchene. The amount of interest means that the Canes truly will be paying “top-dollar” if they made a trade. I'm not sure this is the time to get involved in a pricey bidding war.
Beyond that, the Aves aren’t in much of a “pickle” heading into the expansion draft and most likely will have all of their important assets covered. Given this, I imagine that the true “motivation” for Sakic shopping Duchene is to see who will come calling with a deal that he “can’t say no to.”
The Canes are very close to becoming a dangerous team and have many young assets that will be on the team in the next one to two seasons. I don’t think it would be wise of Francis to pay that price—not after being so patient and strategic with FA signings, great drafting, waiver claims and smart trades.
The final component for why I am not an advocate of trading for Duchene is because it would likely cause financial strain in the future. Duchene is signed until the end of the 2018-19 and comes at a $6M cap-hit. I am not sure the Canes would be able to sign him that off-season based on the current make-up of the team.
While the Canes are in a good position now with the salary cap, between the summer of 2017 and 2018, the Canes have names like Slavin (2018), Pesce (2018), Hanifin (2018), Aho (2019), Teravainen (2017), Skinner (2019) and Lindholm (2019) needing new deals. All of them, except Skinner are going to see significant increases in their annual salary and cap hit. Essentially, the Canes have a lot of big-deals to hand out over in the summer of 2018 and 2019. Also, this doesn’t include trying to find a starting goalie (Ward and Lack both expire summer 2018 too.
Ultimately, part-four of my five-part series on the Canes evaluates the players the Canes should focus on trying to acquire. I was hoping to have it out yesterday, however, the Duchene rumors changed my focus and made me re-evaluate my stance further. The fourth-part will come out tomorrow and focuses on the top three teams (not Colorado) that the Canes should try to trade with.
Finally, the Canes take on the Bruins for the third and final time this season. Both games were “low-scoring” affairs that saw the home team win—the Bruins won the first game in a shoot-out and the Canes won the second one 3-2 in OT.
Looking at both of the games, the Canes didn’t do as well as they typically do limiting offensive chances. The Bruins out-shot the Canes in both of the games, more significantly in the second one though. Despite being out-shot, I still thought the Canes did a good job with defensive zone coverage and Ward was there to clean-up any mistakes.
I don’t see the game-play tonight being much different than the previous two games—both teams are desperate for the two points and should be treating tonight as a “play-in” playoff game. I expect it to be a fast and physical game for both teams.
Puck drop is at 5:00 and is on FSS and NESN. Go Canes—be sure to check back tomorrow to read about the top three trade partners