Welcome to “get to know your Avs”! This feature will take a look at current Avalanche players (and maybe some staff, too) to give you an idea as to just who these guys are and what they mean to the Avalanche.
Yes, some (or most) of you will already know these guys but don’t be party poopers; nobody likes party poopers.
Today, we take a look at the franchise (before Nathan MacKinnon showed up, anyway), Matt Duchene.
Who: Matt Duchene
How He Came to Denver: 3rd overall pick, 2009 Draft
What he’s done: Duchene may have been drafted behind John Tavares and Victor Hedman, but he still came into the league with a ton of hype. Duchene would not disappoint, scoring 24 goals and 55 points while helping the Avalanche to a playoff birth. That effort was good enough to earn him a Calder Trophy nomination, finishing third.
Year two for Dutchy would prove to be even better. Duchene would make his first NHL All-Star Game, rack up his 100th career point (becoming the youngest in franchise history to do so), and set new career-highs in goals (27), assists (40), and points (67).
After a disappointing, injury-shortened third season, Duchene came out of the lockout and may have had his best season in 2012/13. In just 47 games, Dutchy picked up 17 goals and 43 points, leading the team and finally looking like the superstar everyone knew him to be.
He signed a sparkly new five-year/$30M deal in the off-season, locking him up as one of the faces of the franchise.
What he means to the team currently: Gabriel Landeskog might be the leader but Matt Duchene is the star. He’s shown a great deal of the skill that should make him a perennial All-Star for the Avalanche and could crack the top ten scorers in the league very soon.
He’ll get all the big minutes, faceoffs, and opportunities late. So long as he stays healthy, he could finally hit the point-per-game mark after improving his average in each of his three healthy seasons (2011/12 was clearly an injury-related aberration). If he continues on this upward trajectory, he’s going to make that $5M average cap hit look like a steal in no time flat.
What to expect: Duchene is flying high right now and should only get better. He’s got another year under his belt, Landeskog returns healthy, Ryan O’Reilly will be on his wing, and the Avs will be deeper at forward, taking some pressure off of Duchene to be “The Man”.
At .915 points-per-game last season, look for Dutchy to play about 80 games and push the 80-point mark, picking up his first 30-goal season along the way.
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