Here's what we know: If there has been talk of a trade between the Avalanche and any other team involving Matt Duchene, none of the offers have been good enough for both parties to consummate a deal.
The Avs have a maximum of 153 games left in which to see Duchene as one of their players should they so choose, and that number drops by one for every game he continues to play here. After next season, he's an unrestricted free agent and based on everything that's happened in the last 12-18 months regarding his time here, you have to believe the odds would be sky high that he'd go bye-bye if he hadn't been traded by then.
The Avs can't let him walk for nothing, of course. A repeat of the Paul Stastny situation from 2014 simply can't happen. It's obvious the Avs want a top young established defenseman in return for Duchene, or else a really strong, blue-chip caliber prospect defenseman. Joe Sakic has yet to see an offer he finds acceptable in such a pursuit.
But what if Nikita Zadorov were added to the equation? Wouldn't it make it a little more palatable for a GM of another team to go to his owner and say, "They just threw in a young, former first-round pick lefty D-man, who is signed at a reasonable contract for the next two years, to the Duchene package. I think we can give up XYZ young D-man now, because Zadorov gives us a little more insurance."
I'm just askin' here. I have not heard of any specific, newly offered package of Duchene and Zadorov as part of any existing trade talks. Let me repeat: I haven't heard of this.
But I'm just askin': Doesn't that make some sense as a possibility now? If Duchene by himself does not get the Avs the kind of young D-man they want and need, then they have to figure something else out to make it happen. Zadorov, it seems to me, could be the magic key that finally cracks open this box.
Zadorov has been a healthy scratch for two straight games now, and there is a possibility of a third Thursday night at home against Carolina. He has been a scratch in three of the first 11 games. It's clear Jared Bednar doesn't like something about Big Z's game right now. We've seen flashes of potential stardom. We've seen moments when he looks like the biggest badass out there on the ice, with some two-way ability. But we've also seen times where he looks too passive for a guy his size, who can make bad decisions with the puck and sometimes looks slow.
Of course. Of course, it would be a risk for the Avs to essentially give up on this guy. There's no question, he's got talent and we all know it takes defensemen longer to fully develop at the NHL level, generally speaking.
So, I'm not necessarily advocating Zadorov be dealt as part of a Duchene package. I'm more interested in what you out there think on this. All I know is, the Avs are going to have to trade Duchene before next season's official deadline. He's given no indication that he is interested in an extension to stay here, even though the Avs have gotten off to a better-than-expected start and Duchene has mostly played pretty well.
Zadorov might be in the doghouse right now, but he still looks attractive on paper. Some team out there really desperate for offense, who might want Duchene but doesn't quite want to give up that young D-man, might be talked into it easier if a guy like Z were included. If the Avs don't see him as part of their long-term future - I mean, he's not even playing right now - then they have to get something for him too before it's too late.