Matt Duchene
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Best Of Matt Duchene Is Long Gone

Matt Duchene used to really be the next big thing in hockey. Selected behind only John Tavares and Victor Hedman in the 2009 NHL Draft, the Haliburton, Ontario native made an immediate impact. With 55 points in 81 games and an All-Rookie first-team selection, Duchene put the league on notice. The Colorado Avalance were trending upward in the western conference behind his rapid rise to NHL stardom. However, it was short-lived. In 2013, the Avalanche drafted Nathan Mackinnon first overall in a no-brainer. The early results were great; Colorado earned home-ice advantage in the first round of the 2014 Playoffs. Once again, it was short-lived. The Minnesota Wild knocked them out in a seven-game thriller that ended with a famous overtime goal.

The Story Of Duchene

That is a defining feature of Duchene’s career to date. He’s had some great moments, but merely for a fleeting moment. There’s never been much playoff success despite putting up pretty good numbers. He’s only played past the first round once, and that was after a shocking sweep of Tampa Bay in the 2019 Playoffs. What do we have now? A player who is known for his great skating on the wrong side of 30. With an $8 million cap hit for the foreseeable future, the Nashville Predators even left him exposed in the Kraken’s expansion draft. They have good reason to.

This past season was the first time Duchene ever averaged under a half-point per game since 2011-2012. He even regressed slightly in 2019-2020 when his scoring paced dipped from around 60 points in 82 games to closer to 50. With the reputation of a scorer, he is not known for his defensive abilities. He’s still a good skater, but not physical. At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, he’s definitely not known for dropping the hammer consistently. As an offense-first player, there was not much more to expect besides a respectable point total at the end of the season.

It’s Funny How Things Work, Right?

I remember being obsessed with him a few years back. After the Avalanche’s historically bad 2016-2017 season, it looked like a fire sale was brewing. I was dying for Matt Duchene to become a New York Islander. However, GM Joe Sakic kept a high asking price. One of the assets he was looking for in exchange was Mathew Barzal. In hindsight, I can confidently say that the Isles made a great decision. While Barzal has proved many teams wrong for passing up on him and kept trending upward from elite prospect to NHL star, Duchene’s star has dimmed. He’s simply not the player he used to be. Even with putting up good numbers, they don’t translate to much team success. He’s a one-way player who is starting to age.

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