Duchene era comes to abrupt end as Avs deal for next wave of young talent

The line-up the Colorado Avalanche submitted for their Sunday game against the New York Islanders included Matt Duchene. By the end of the first period, however, the third overall pick in the 2009 draft was headed to a new team.

In a three-way deal involving the Ottawa Senators and the Nashville Predators, the Avalanche put an end to the on-again, off-again trade saga that has been circling the franchise for months. Duchene will join the Senators, who send center Kyle Turris to the Predators. The Avalanche will receive defenseman Samuel Girard, forward Vladislav Kamenev and a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft from the Predators. The Senators will send the Avalanche goaltender Andrew Hammond, forward Shane Bowers, and a first- and third-round pick in next summer’s draft.

In total, that’s seven players the Avalanche receive in exchange for Duchene, who had tallied four goals and ten points in 13 games this season. Duchene’s departure had seemed inevitable for months, and with the team growing — but not expected to contend this season — there was no longer any sense in waiting. “We feel this deal brings us some top prospects as well as some high draft picks as we continue to build for both the short and long-term future,” Avalanche executive vice president & general manager Joe Sakic said. “We’ve said all along that we wanted to be patient and wait for the right deal, and this is the opportunity we feel is best for the organization.”

Samuel Girard was a second-round pick by the Predators in 2016. The 19-year-old defenseman has appeared in five games this season for Nashville, totaling one goal and two assists. Small at 5-10 and 161 pounds, the offensively-minded Girard’s shown a deft touch throughout his career in major junior hockey. He’s the only player of the four the Avalanche received that’s currently playing in the NHL.

Vladislav Kamenev played in two games with the Predators last season; a cup of coffee for the 21-year-old forward after being selected in the second round of the 2014 draft by Nashville. Kamenev’s scoring punch was on display last season in Milwaukee, where in 70 games for the AHL Admirals, he finished with 51 points, 21 of them goals.

Goaltender Andrew Hammond has spent the early part of the 2017-18 season with the Belleville Senators of the AHL, compiling a 2-2-1 record. At 29 years of age, Hammond isn’t likely to play an significant role in the Avalanche’s future, but with 55 NHL games under his belt, he provides valuable depth at the position, and won 20 games in the 2014-15 season with the Senators.

Shane Bowers was a first-round pick by the Senators in this year’s draft, 28th overall, and is off to a hot start for Boston University. The 18-year-old freshman has played in ten games this season for the Terriers, scoring four goals and adding two assists. The 6-2, 185-pound center may continue to improve as he grows, and projects as either a center or a winger at the NHL level.

For the Avalanche, parting ways with Duchene is bittersweet. In eight full seasons with the team and part of a ninth, he’s compiled an impressive array of statistics; ranking 10th in franchise history with 428 points (178g, 250a) in 585 career contests, including ranking seventh in franchise history in goals and 10th in assists. Duchene, who grew up as an Avalanche fan, was expected to become the centerpiece for a new, championship-caliber renaissance that never came to pass. In the end, his trade was required in order to launch a new effort for that lofty goal.

In an odd twist of fate, the Avalanche play Duchene’s new team, Ottawa, twice in the next seven days. Both games are being played in Sweden as part of the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series.

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