Just as everyone was gawking at a horny Robert Kraft, the sports world blessed us with even bigger news: The last-place Ottawa Senators have traded center Matt Duchene to the Columbus Blue Jackets, in exchange for highly regarded prospect Vitaly Abramov, promising Swede Jonathan Davidsson, and some picks.
With this move, the Blue Jackets get a first-class center who has 27 goals and 31 assists in 50 games this season, and ranks among the top face-off men in the NHL. On a team that’s weak on natural centers, Duchene fills a need. And despite his impending free agency, he could be convinced to stay in Columbus for a while
The trade’s also beneficial for the Blue Jackets because they can boost their asking price for Artemi Panarin, the coveted forward who is all but guaranteed to leave this offseason in free agency if they don’t trade him first. As a tweener team on the edge of playoff position, the Blue Jackets could either make a run and keep Panarin, or give up and send him to a contender. With this move, it looks likely that they’re going all-in; but they can also stand to benefit even more than they already would have by shipping Panarin, because they’ve just decreased the supply of great forwards for rent.
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