Sergio Gonzalez / Top three best and most likely landing spots in Matt Duchene trade market

The trade market for Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, once considered a near-lock to be moved either during this past season season or in advance of this summer’s free agency, has been rather quiet.

But it isn’t quite dead yet, if reports from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ongoing speculation around the league are to be taken seriously.

If the Avalanche budge and ultimately move their much-discussed trade chip, here are three of the best — and most likely — landing spots for the 26-year-old forward:

3. Columbus Blue Jackets

Artemi Panarin is in town with Brandon Saad back in Chicago, but Duchene could make for a top-rate second-liner ahead of Brandon Dubinsky. His face-off skills would bode well for John Tortorella’s unit, too. More so than he might be able to do with, say, the Boston Bruins, the Avalanche forward could contribute behind plenty of others from the Blue Jackets bench and give a team with eyes on a deep postseason run more scoring talent, not to mention potential long-term value.

2. Nashville Predators

Maybe they sound like a better fit than they are because of how close they came to winning a championship. But they do check a lot of boxes as a potential new home for Duchene. They did add ex-Penguin Nick Bonino to make up for James Neal‘s departure in the expansion draft, but there is no doubt they could still use some help up front. Plus, taking into account that Nashville could part with a handful of depth regulars next July, Duchene could make even more sense if he fits in, offers the offensive touch he is known and earns a new deal.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

They have their work cut out for them if they want to carve out room for Duchene, but the Penguins also make for a perfect fit. First, they’re well positioned to make a serious run at a third straight title. And with Bonino gone via free agency, Duchene could slot in immediately as a third-line center. Even if they’d have to cough up someone like Olli Maatta, the Pens would probably have a hard time not getting excited about swapping out Bonino for a younger, more skilled and reasonably compensated reserve center in Duchene.

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