When two players are very talented and get drafted the same year, it’s inevitable that comparisons arise. New York Islanders center John Tavares went first-overall in the same year that the Colorado Avalanche drafted Matt Duchene third-overall, 2009. In between the two came defenseman Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Now, it’s become legendary that Matt Duchene wanted to wait until the third position in the draft so that he could get picked by his childhood favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche. Presumably John Tavares is pretty pleased with his home in New York. Since the two teams are meeting tonight, let’s take a moment to reflect on how they’re turning out thus far.
Both Matt Duchene and John Tavares are offensively gifted players. They’re somewhat similar in size, with Tavares at 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds. Duchene is 5-foot-11, 200 pounds.
According to The Hockey News, Tavares’ great strengths include his hockey IQ and his hand-eye coordination. He’s not a particularly gritty player, but he doesn’t shy away from the corners. He’s not too speedy, though he has an excellent shot. Right now his shooting percentage is at 16.4.
Matt Duchene isn’t the grittiest of players, though I’m impressed how well he fends off opponents while protecting the puck. He’s the opposite of Tavares when it comes to speed — Duchene’s renowned for it, and I’d account him the most dynamic of skaters on the team. He has a tendency to rely too much on his incredible skills rather than play a simple game.
I’ve said it before, though — Duchene playing hockey is a thing of beauty. Currently he’s shooting at 18.8%.
John Tavares is the Islanders’ captain. Matt Duchene doesn’t wear a letter.
That’s not to say Duchene isn’t a leader, though. Head coach Patrick Roy has commented on more than one occasion that the Colorado Avalanche is lucky to have many leaders on the team, and he accounts Duchene as one of them.
Duchene is a heart and soul kind of guy. He gives every ounce of himself and plays with an intensity that distinguishes him.
It’s highly likely that Matt Duchene will take on alternate captaincy at some point in his career. Nonetheless, New York seems satisfied in its captain.
John Tavares has better statistics than Matt Duchene. Tavares has played in 453 games for the Islanders. In that time he’s recorded 185 goals and 237 assists.
Matt Duchene is ever a streaky player. He’s played in 442 games for the Colorado Avalanche. In that time he’s recorded 138 goals and 202 assists.
However, those 138 goals mean he’s tied with retired Avalanche wingman Adam Deadmarsh, who spent years skating with Peter Forsberg. They currently reside at 11th place all-time for the Avs — needless to say Matt Duchene is expected to keep climbing that list.
In case you’re wondering, Joe Sakic is top of that list with 391 Avalanche goals.
That said, November was an historic month because he surpassed the former goal-scoring leader, Claude Lemieux, when Duchene scored his 11th goal.
I suppose there are a lot of people, even in Avs Nation, who would trade John Tavares for Matt Duchene. I’m not one of them. Duchene hockeying truly is a wondrous site, and his commitment to the Colorado Avalanche is more precious than gold.