The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired center Matt Duchene and prospect Julius Bergman from the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, a first-round pick in 2019, and a conditional first-round pick in 2020 if Duchene re-signs with the Blue Jackets are headed to the Senators in the trade. Duchene can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 but will not sign an extension with the Blue Jackets at this time.
Confirming Matt Duchene has been traded to Columbus. Details to come.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 22, 2019
Duchene, 28, was second on the Senators with 27 goals, which are three shy of his career-high set in 2015-16, and 58 points, respectively, entering Friday. He has a plus-minus rating of a -2.
The best season of his career came in 2013-14 when he set career-highs with 47 assists, 70 points, and a +8 rating in 71 games with the Avalanche, who finished first in the Central Division that season.
Duchene was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche via the Nashville Predators on November 5, 2017, that sent defenseman Samuel Girard, forward Vladislav Kamenev, and a second-round pick from the Predators and forward Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond, a first-round pick, and a third-round pick from the Senators to the Avalanche. The Predators received center Kyle Turris in the deal. The Senators are dead last in the NHL with 49 points this season and the pick they sent to the Avalanche is the favorite to win the NHL Draft Lottery in April. They could also trade center Ryan Dzingel and forward Mark Stone, who can also each become unrestricted free agents on July 1.
With the acquisition of Duchene, the Blue Jackets satisfy their need for a No. 1 center. They’ve been looking for one since they sent center Ryan Johansen to the Predators in exchange for defenseman Seth Jones in January 2016. Pierre-Luc Dubois, the third-overall pick in 2016, has been playing in that spot, for the most part, this season after Alexander Wennberg played there for the better part of two seasons.
The Blue Jackets enter Friday one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, though they have two games in hand on the Hurricanes.
The Blue Jackets now have three of the top pending unrestricted free agents this summer: Duchene, forward Artemi Panarin, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Panarin and Bobrovsky could be moved prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, which is Monday at 3 PM ET.
The two teams clash at Nationwide Arena on Friday.
By Harrison Brown