Back in the summer of 2009, there was a lot of debate about who the New York Islanders should take first overall. John Tavares seemed like the obvious choice, but Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene were lurking if Isles GM Garth Snow went a different direction; he didn’t.
A year and a half later, the Avalanche are seeing first-hand the potential Duchene has and why there was consideration that he could have gone No. 1 over the likes of Tavares or Hedman.
The energetic 19-year-old seems to have taken that proverbial ‘next step’. In 27 games, Duchene has collected 25 points and is doing the little things to make his presence more effective. His faceoff percentage is a shade above 51 percent – a seven percent increase from 2009/10; he’s also carrying a plus-8 rating.
Duchene was fairly consistent in his rookie campaign (55 points in 81 games), enough to be a finalist for the Calder Trophy. However, he was a rookie and went through the ups and downs that come with being a first-year player in the NHL.
‘Dutchy’ has stepped up in Chris Stewart’s absence by scoring six goals in the last seven games. He is making some plays that are raising some eyebrows. In an overtime loss to Atlanta on Nov. 30, Duchene played one of his better games and was named the second star – with only one goal on one shot.
The Avs have had their fair share of injury problems this year – similarly to Detroit last year where bodies were dropping like flies. Duchene has helped soften the blow by racking up 11 points in his last nine games and emerging as a go-to threat up front for Colorado.
Going into last summer’s draft, many compared Duchene to the likes of Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and Jonathan Toews. Obviously, the Ontario native is nowhere near that tier of greatness and has a long way to go.
With that being said, we are seeing a hot-shot teenager grow into a mature and effective player right before our eyes… and he nowhere near his ceiling. Scary, isn’t it?
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.