McKenzie evaluates future of Duchene with Senators

Whether or not Matt Duchene will still be an Ottawa Senator beyond the trade deadline remains to be seen.

The 27-year-old forward can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he’d be a hot commodity both as a February trade chip and as a potential signee with another team in July.

Is there any indication as to whether or not the Senators might actually be able to re-sign Duchene though?   

“It’s kind of early yet,” cautioned Bob McKenzie during a Wednesday morning radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690. “I think a lot of it will depend on how things go. If I’m Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, I may or may not be predisposed to return to the team. But what I would suggest is if the thing’s as bad a tire fire as everybody anticipates it’s going to be, well then you’re certainly in a position where you’re like, ‘I don’t know if I have any sane reason to sign up for many more years of this,’ especially for a guy like Duchene, who’s not a born and bred Ottawa Senator like Mark Stone was, and got himself into a situation in Colorado where he felt like the organization wasn’t going anywhere and wanted out, only to get out and find out that he might be in as bad or worse a situation with Ottawa.

“But to your point, like the Canadiens and like some other teams, the Senators are off to a very good start. And it’s like as you say, and I say all the time - really, really, really small sample size. But it’s encouraging almost three weeks in now. So we’ll see where it goes.

“But Duchene might be a guy that’s predisposed to at least think about his options maybe more than Stone, or maybe I’m wrong on that. But I think Stone has been there for a long time, he’s got some roots in the community, and that may come into play. Duchene doesn’t have roots in the community and I would assume that he wants to win.

“But if the Sens are going to get one or both of these guys signed, I would surmise that they’re going to end up having to give them max-term deals and more money than they would get anywhere else.

“And before anybody says, ‘Well, Eugene Melnyk won’t do that,’ that’s exactly what he did with Bobby Ryan when he signed him back a number of years ago. And of course some would say, ‘How’s that working out for you,’ but nevertheless, that’s what you do in a lot of markets - and it’s not just Ottawa - where if you’ve got guys who might be predisposed to leave and go to the greener pastures of free agency, you throw term and money at them to get them to stay.”

Duchene’s five-year, $30 million contract will expire at the end of this season, while Stone is on a one-year, $7.35 million pact that was signed in August.

Duchene has been eligible to sign an extension since July, while Stone won’t be able to sign any extension until January at the earliest.

McKenzie mentioned on Tuesday’s edition of TSN’s Insider Trading that Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson, and Senators general manager Pierre Dorion had broken bread that day on the subject of Duchene’s future, but that it was “very, very preliminary.”

Contract-related info via CapFriendly