The ride was short, but it was as exciting as ever. Reports have leaked that the Columbus Blue Jackets have reached a deal with the Ottawa Senators that will send Matt Duchene to Columbus. That means, with much disappointment and sadness, we must once again retire the Duchene DEFCON System. Don’t be sad because it’s over. Smile because it happened. We got all the way up to Ducehene DEFCON 1 this time!

Per Pierre LeBrun, Duchene and Ottawa prospect Julius Bergman are going to Columbus for a 1st-round pick (2019), two of the Jacket’s better prospects, and if Duchene signs with the Jackets then Columbus owes Ottawa another first round pick (2020).

Now the question is where do the Preds go from here? Yes, this is disappointing. I love Duchene. I love the skillset that he brings to the ice. I would love to see Nashville’s adopted son wearing a gold jersey and hoisting a Stanley Cup, but what’re you gonna do? This team still has an opportunity to win now, and there are still some great to solid options on the trade market that the Predators can make a run at.

The priority now, in my humble opinion, becomes another Senator, Mark Stone. He is objectively a better player than Duchene, but it would be almost impossible for Nashville to sign him long-term. So the Predators would know they are paying a high price for one run with an elite player.

The same goes for Columbus’ Artemi Panarin, but the Duchene deal may have changed things on this front. Columbus may want to load up and make one more run at things with both Panarin and Bobrovsky in an attempt to at least win their first playoff series — and maybe even more.

If Nashville can’t grab Panarin or Stone, its attention should turn to New York in an attempt to land either Kevin Hayes or Mats Zuccarello. Hayes is a large center and is having a pretty damn productive year with 14 goals, 28 assists, and 42 points on the season. Zuccarello is a smaller winger with solid playmaking ability. He has 11 goals, 26 assists, and 37 points in 46 games. He would add nice depth at the wing position. Both players would be solid additions — at a lesser cost than the bigger names on the market.

Other names, which I discussed in a blog last week are Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist and Ottawa’s Ryan Dzingel. Again, neither of those guys do the ol’ cliche of “putting Nashville over the top,” but they would make the Predators a better and more deep team in terms of scoring.

Yes, not getting Duchene here is disappointing. Hell, I was one tweet away from getting a poster of him above my bed. However, there are still options out there that the Predators can go after in order to bolster this team for a playoff run. Really the saddest thing of all of this is the fact that we have to retire the Duchene DEFCON System again. Goodnight, sweet prince. May we meet again as free agency approaches.