25-Year-Old Center – Colorado Avalanche
Matt Duchene Contract Information:
Signed a five-year extension with the Avalanche in July of 2013.
Duchene notched a pair of helpers in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Nashville.
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Matt Duchene: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Duchene has "rebound season" written all over him. The 24-year-old's struggles mirrored those of his team in 2014-15, as he notched just 55 points in 82 games. While that’s a respectable output for your average top-six guy, more was expected from the speedy center after he scored at a point-per-game clip the year before. But even in what was widely considered a career season in 2013-14, Duchene only scored 23 goals, and seems to have taken on more of a distributing role since finding twine a career-best 27 times in 2010-11. On the other hand, Duchene has fired over 200 shots on goal in two straight seasons and continues to see top power-play time, so writing him off as a potential 30-goal scorer may be a tad premature. Even if the goals again remain in the low-20 range, Duchene is surrounded by too much talent not to improve on last season's point total. With two quality snipers among Nathan MacKinnon, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, or Gabriel Landeskog set to flank him this season and young, offensive-minded blue line talents in Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, and Nikita Zadorov expected to join him on the power play, Duchene may be in a more favorable situation now than he enjoyed two years ago.
After the lockout-shortened campaign saw Duchene rack up 43 points in 47 games, the Canadian Olympian further solidified himself as a true point-per-game threat in 2013-14 with a career-high 70 points in 71 games. The 23-year-old stud center also recorded career-bests in assists (47), plus/minus (plus-8), game-winning goals (six) and shots on goal (217), all while facing the opposition's best defenders. The man they call "Dutchy" is in a near-perfect situation in Denver. He may be the Avs' best player and arguably the face of the franchise, but he's surrounded by a cast of several other stars in Ryan O'Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon, captain Gabe Landeskog and the newly-acquired Jarome Iginla, who all can take the pressure off of him. There's a good chance he'll get to play with one or both of the big-bodied Landeskog and Iginla with regularity this season, and those two should create even more room for Duchene to dipsy-doodle around defenders and create havoc with his blazing speed. Furthermore, his 71 points tied him for 16th overall in league scoring last season, but if all goes well -- especially with the addition of Iginla as a linemate both at even strength and on the power play -- Duchene is a prime candidate to crack the top-10 in scoring while flirting with 80 points.
Fresh off a five-year contract extension, Duchene is now the face of the franchise and will center the team's top line. Duchene tied for the team lead in points last season with 43 in 47 games. The speedy, 22 year-old center already has 193 points in his first four NHL seasons (266 games). The Avs are a young, offensive-minded team that will win games by scoring, which makes this potential point-per-game producer a very good fantasy option.
Duchene missed a huge chunk of last season to knee and ankle injuries, playing just 58 games and scoring 28 points (14G, 14A), falling well short of the 67 points he registered in his sophomore season. Assuming he comes back healthy, there's no reason to believe he can't return to being the 55-65 point player he was in his first two seasons. Remember – at just 21 years of age, Duchene has yet to hit his prime and should only continue to get better. After last season, many of your fellow fantasy owners will have dropped him a few spots on their depth charts, so be prepared to pick him up on the cheap.
Last season, Duchene celebrated his sophomore campaign by leading the Avs in total points (67), and tying for first in goals (27) and assists (40). At just 20 years old, Duchene has undeniably become the face of the Avs franchise and a leader both on the ice and in the dressing room. On a fantasy basis, Duchene's supporting cast became a tad weaker last season following the departures of linemate Chris Stewart and budding defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis. However, this did not seem to slow him down much, as Duchene still managed to score 20 points (6A, 14A) in his last 23 games following the trade, with the help of linemates Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Furthermore, there is more help on the way in the form of second-overall draft pick Gabriel Landeskog. This season, expect more of the same from Duchene as he continues his rapid development into one of the NHL's elite players. A point-per-game season should be well within his grasp this year.
At just 18 years old, Duchene enjoyed a very successful rookie season with the Avalanche, finishing third in scoring with 55 points, and second in goals with 24. Among NHL rookies, he finished first in points, and tied for first in goals. Despite this, he finished third in voting for the Calder Trophy for the NHL's top rookie, behind winner Tyler Myers and second place Jimmy Howard. Duchene also added three assists in six playoff games for the Avs as they were eliminated by the Sharks in the opening round. With his skill set and stellar supporting cast, Duchene has excellent fantasy upside heading into next season. He is expected to return as the team’s second-line center alongside Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller.
Duchene was arguably the best two-way player in this year's draft and projects as a point-per-game, first-line center in as little as three to four years. Duchene has one more year of junior eligibility, but the Avs will not hesitate to promote him to the NHL level this year, if they feel he is ready. With only T.J. Galiardi, T.J. Hensick and possibly Ryan Stoa as his only competition for the center position this season, Duchene could find himself anchoring the team's second line before too long.