Is Matt Duchene really that much better than Kyle Turris?
Christopher Hanewinckel / USA Today Sports

The Ottawa Senators upgraded the middle of the ice Sunday, acquiring Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche.

It came at a hefty price, though.

Not only did the Sens lose Kyle Turris in the process, but they also gave up a first-round pick, a third-round pick, and their 28th overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft, Shane Bowers.

Essentially, the Sens gave up two first-round picks and a third-round pick to upgrade from Turris to Duchene. The majority of hockey fans would agree Duchene is better than Turris, but is he a big enough upgrade to warrant the cost?

Since 2013-14, Duchene and Turris have put up similar numbers:

Stat Duchene Turris
GP 320 310
G 96 93
A 139 123
P 235 216
P/PG 0.734 0.696

Obviously there is more to the game than just goals and assists, though. Only so much goes into these totals.

Sometimes goal scoring has a lot to do with luck, which brings us to the wonderful world of expected goals for.

Expected goals essentially tracks shot type, shot location, and shot quality while a player is on the ice, therefore giving us a better indication of how sustainable a player's offensive numbers are, compared to a stat such as Corsi For, which simply tracks shot attempts.

Here are Turris and Duchene's expected goals for numbers since 2013-14 at five-on-five, per Corsica.

Stat Duchene Turris
ixGF/60 0.75 0.59
xGF 168.89 166.19
xGA 194.25 179.01
xG+/- -25.36 -12.82

Duchene has the edge in individual expected goals for per 60 minutes, but both the Avs and Sens were expected to have negative goal differential while Duchene and Turris were on the ice over the last five years. Duchene's xG+/- is nearly twice as bad, though. However, the Avs have been significantly worse than the Sens in recent years.

Thankfully, Corsica uses what's called relative stats. This compares a team's numbers relative to when a player was, and wasn't on the ice.

Stat Duchene Turris
Rel xGF% 3.41 -1.3

As you can see, the Avs' expected goals for percentage was 3.41 percent higher when Duchene was on the ice. Ottawa's expected goals for percentage dropped 1.3 percent when Turris was on the ice.

While Rel xGF% is a nice indicator, it still really comes down to a team effort. Takeaways and giveaways can provide a better individual explanation as to which player does a better job at retrieving pucks, therefore giving his team more chances to play on offense, rather than defense. Given that both players are centers, faceoff percentage was also included, per Hockey Reference.

Stat Duchene Turris
Takeaways 205 147
Giveaways 153 174
TK/GV +/- 52 -27
FO% 55.5 51.5

From a pure individual standpoint, it is clear Duchene gives his team more chances to go on the attack. His ability to strip the puck will be especially beneficial in Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 trap, which specializes in counter-attacks.

When it comes to special teams, Turris has been the more productive player on the man advantage.

Stat Duchene Turris
PPG 19 21
PPA 30 38

However, when it comes to discipline, and drawing penalties, Duchene has been the more useful player (iPENT = individual penalties taken, iPEND = individual penalties drawn).

Stat Duchene Turris
iPENT 24 50
iPEND 74 60
iP+/- 50 10

Over the last five years, Duchene has provided his team with 50 more power plays than penalty kills, while Turris has only provided his team with 10 more.

(Photo courtesy: Action Images)

The verdict

The expectation before this deep plunge into statistics was that Ottawa forked up two first-round picks and a third-round pick to upgrade from an equally productive - yet perhaps less exciting player - to a flashier player who passes the eye test.

As it turns out, all the underlying numbers suggest Duchene is the far superior player, despite his basic numbers registering similarly to Turris'.

Sure, two firsts and a third seem like a lot, but for a team that is clearly in win-now mode, this was a deal that needed to be made for Ottawa. Turris is a good player and a very solid No. 2 center, but Duchene's game-breaking ability puts the Sens over the top, and a much-needed change of scenery should only lead to more success.

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Is Matt Duchene really that much better than Kyle Turris?
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