By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
The Matt Duchene saga is finally over, as the Colorado Avalanche traded him to the Ottawa Senators in a pair of deals that also included Kyle Turris going to the Nashville Predators.
Duchene has been involved in trade rumors for almost a year. He joins the Senators as their new No. 1 center, Turris gives the Predators more depth down the middle and the Avalanche push forward with their rebuilding youth movement.
"It's bittersweet for sure, but I'm excited for a new opportunity in Ottawa," Duchene said as he left Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "(The Senators) have a team that can win a Stanley Cup. I'm really excited to go there and just nothing but a pleasure to have played here for Colorado."
Colorado gets top prospects Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 second-round pick from Nashville, and prospect Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond and a 2018 first- and 2019 third-round picks from Ottawa. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said the Senators first-round pick was top-10 protected.
Duchene is signed through 2018-19 at a salary-cap hit of $6 million, but Sakic had been trying to move him since the trade deadline last season, when the Avalanche were the worst team in the NHL.
"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," 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."
After the deals were completed, Turris signed a $36 million, six-year extension with Nashville that keeps him under contract through 2023-24. Nashville, which went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, lost winger James Neal to Vegas in the expansion draft but could afford to sign Turris because of that cap space.
Predators GM David Poile called Turris, 28, one of the best two-way centers in the NHL.
"He should be a great fit in our locker room and will bolster our lineup and give us the depth that's necessary during the regular season and the playoffs," Poile said. "He is someone who can play in all situations and will help us tremendously on both ends of the ice. He will give our coaching staff a number of options in terms of offensive production and defensive responsibilities."
Duchene has four goals and six assists in 13 games this season and 178 goals and 250 assists in 585 NHL games, all with Colorado. He'll play his first game with the Senators on Friday against the Avalanche in Stockholm, which could be a weird meeting after Duchene spent so much time in limbo.
"We're going to still focus on winning hockey games and focus on doing that with the guys that want to be here," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said after a 6-4 loss to the Islanders. "Obviously Matt had his opinions and reasons for whatever happened, but I think for the guys that are here, we want to try to win and we want to change this thing around with this team and that's what we're looking to do."
Duchene had a good idea in recent days something was coming, and coach Jared Bednar was prepared with different lineups in case a trade went down. Sakic said he, Poile and Senators GM Pierre Dorion had been talking for a long time, so it was hard to find anyone surprised that Duchene is no longer with the Avalanche.
But Duchene's exit came in unique fashion as he found out on the bench during the game and left the ice with injured Colorado forward Blake Comeau 9:21 into the first period.
"I kind of knew before they told me," Duchene said. "I saw them talking on the bench. It's very strange, but I kind of half-expected it to be the weirdest way possible. It's one of those things - it's a business and I'll have good story for people one day."
Freelance reporter Christian Arnold in Brooklyn, New York, contributed.
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