#DucheneWatch ends as Nashville Predators sign Matt Duchene in free agency

After three and a half years of cowboy hats and concert t-shirts, real estate investments and birthday weekends with friends, Matt Duchene is finally coming to Nashville to play hockey for the home team.

Do you hear that sound in the distance? It sounds like a guitar playing sweet, sweet—wait, that’s Matt Duchene strumming his way to Lower Broad and into Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile can kick back and relax because the eggs he put in his solitary basket just hatched.

The 28-year-old forward made his free agency decision Monday when he inked a deal with the Preds.

This may sew up the wounds of still-ailing fans mourning the loss of fan favorite and eternal NHL sunshine P.K. Subban. Though Poile refused to admit it, Subban’s salary cap dump was intended to go toward a nice chunk of change for Duchene.

Poile did, however, admit that his goal for the 2019 offseason was to strengthen the offensive corps, and what better way to do so than by adding a forward fresh off a playoff run himself?

Duchene is traveling down south from Columbus where he spent four months, helping the team to their first-ever playoff series win.

The center is a hot commodity among NHL teams looking for that offensive boost.

The Blue Jackets went all-in in February when they traded their 2019 first-round pick, prospects Vitalii Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, and a conditional 2020 first-round pick for Duchene.

Though he tallied just four goals and eight assists in 23 games after being traded, Duchene became the player the Blue Jackets were counting on in the postseason.

Duchene scored five goals and had five assists, including his OT winner against the Boston Bruins, in 10 playoff games.

The Preds are Duchene’s fourth team in 10 years in the league.

He was drafted by his childhood favorite Colorado Avalanche, where he spent eight years. However, after nearly a decade without playoff success (the Avs did not make the playoffs six of the eight years, lost in the second round in his first year and lost in the first round in his fifth year), he asked Avs GM Joe Sakic for a trade.

Duchene told ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski in November 2017 that asking his childhood idol for a trade was the ‘most difficult request he’s ever made.’

The Avs traded Duchene to the Ottawa Senators that same month. He continued to show his offensive strength, tallying 23 goals and 26 assists in 68 games, but his team once again missed out on the playoffs.

Duchene is also no stranger to controversy. In 2018 he was one among the Sens players recorded disparaging the team’s assistant coach in the back of an Uber.

He and his teammates apologized for the embarrassing scandal and the team moved on. He put up 27 goals and 31 assists in 50 games before being traded to the Blue Jackets in February.

Duchene is the solid center Poile is looking for to energize his team.

On average, Duchene is a 50+ point-per-year player. In the 2018-2019 season he matched his career high in points at 70, which he also reached during the 2013-2014 season.

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As first leaked last night, Duchene has signed a seven-year, $56-million deal, with a salary cap hit of $8M—the same as fellow Preds center Ryan Johansen’s. Given that rumors earlier this week had Duchene asking for $9.5M or even $10M a year, this is a bargain in the free agency market.

Even more surprising, it’s been reported that the deal is only half in signing bonuses ($28M) and has a very limited NTC for the final three years only.