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Matt Duchene's Tenure with the Colorado Avalanche (2009-2017)


the Colorado Avalanche

Matt Duchene's Tenure with the Colorado Avalanche (2009-2017)

When the Colorado Avalanche selected Matt Duchene with the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, they were getting a highly-skilled, offensively gifted center who they hoped would be a cornerstone of their franchise for years to come. Duchene proceeded to exceed all expectations during his 8 seasons with the Avalanche, establishing himself as one of the premier playmaking centers in the NHL.

Duchene made an immediate impact after joining the Avalanche, scoring 24 goals and adding 31 assists in his rookie campaign in 2009-10. He would go on to be a consistent point-producer, scoring at least 20 goals in 6 of his 8 seasons with the Avalanche. His best statistical season came in 2013-14 when he set career-highs with 23 goals, 47 assists and 70 points.

Beyond his offensive exploits, Duchene also established himself as a strong two-way center, developing into an excellent defensive forward who could be relied upon in all situations. He was a mainstay on the Avalanche's penalty kill unit and was often matched up against the opposition's top centers. Duchene's well-rounded game and ability to contribute at both ends of the ice made him an invaluable asset for the Avalanche throughout his tenure with the team.

Duchene's Contributions to the Avalanche's Resurgence

The Avalanche's fortunes took a significant turn for the better shortly after Duchene joined the team. In his rookie season, the Avalanche improved from 32 wins and 69 points the previous year to 43 wins and 95 points, surging to the top of the Northwest Division. They would go on to make the playoffs in 3 of Duchene's first 4 seasons, including a Presidents' Trophy-winning campaign in 2013-14 where they finished with the best record in the NHL.

Duchene played a crucial role in the Avalanche's resurgence, emerging as one of the team's top offensive threats and driving the play when he was on the ice. His speed, skill, and playmaking ability allowed him to dominate possession and tilt the ice in the Avalanche's favor. Duchene's production and two-way play made him an indispensable part of Colorado's top-6 forward group during their most successful years.

The Avalanche's decline and Duchene's trade request

Unfortunately, the Avalanche were unable to sustain their success beyond the 2013-14 season. The team fell off a cliff, missing the playoffs in each of the next 3 seasons from 2014-15 to 2016-17. During this stretch of futility, the Avalanche plummeted to the bottom of the NHL standings, going from a 112-point team to a 48-point team in the span of just 3 years.

As the Avalanche's fortunes declined, Duchene's future with the team became increasingly uncertain. Rumors of a potential trade request from the star center began to swirl, as it became clear that the Avalanche were in the midst of a full-scale rebuild and Duchene may not fit into their long-term plans.

The situation came to a head in the 2017 offseason, when Duchene officially requested a trade from the Avalanche. After months of speculation and trade rumors, Duchene was ultimately dealt to the Ottawa Senators in a multi-team blockbuster trade in November 2017. The move marked the end of Duchene's 8-year tenure with the Avalanche, during which he had established himself as one of the team's all-time greats.

Duchene's Legacy with the Avalanche

Despite the somewhat acrimonious end to his time in Colorado, Matt Duchene will be remembered as one of the most talented and impactful players in Avalanche history. His offensive brilliance, two-way responsibility, and leadership made him a cornerstone of the franchise during its most successful period in the early-to-mid 2010s.

Duchene ranks 6th in Avalanche history in games played (586), 6th in goals (178), 7th in assists (250), and 6th in total points (428). His 70-point campaign in 2013-14 stands as the 9th-highest single-season point total in franchise annals. Duchene was also a 2-time NHL All-Star, representing the Avalanche in the mid-season exhibition in 2016 and 2017.

Beyond the individual statistics and accolades, Duchene's impact on the Avalanche went far beyond the numbers. His elite skill, two-way responsibility, and leadership presence were all crucial factors in helping the Avalanche emerge as one of the top teams in the Western Conference for several seasons. Duchene's ability to drive possession, produce offense, and play a reliable 200-foot game made him an indispensable part of Colorado's core during their most successful years.

While the Avalanche were ultimately unable to win a championship with Duchene as their centerpiece, his tenure with the team will still be remembered fondly by the fanbase. Duchene provided Avalanche fans with countless highlight-reel plays and memorable moments, cementing his status as one of the greatest players to don the burgundy and blue.

Despite the disappointing end to his time in Colorado, Duchene's legacy as an Avalanche great is secure. He was the driving force behind the team's resurgence in the early 2010s and played a pivotal role in restoring the Avalanche to their status as one of the NHL's premier franchises. Duchene's name will forever be etched in the annals of Avalanche history as one of the most talented and impactful players to ever wear the team's colors.