Thursday, October 22, 2015

Matt Duchene Swatch Card

So... Matt Duchene.

Calder Trophy candidate in 2009-10, after being drafted third overall the previous summer by the Colorado Avalanche, the team he rooted for as a kid and whose captain was Joe Sakic, his childhood hero - now his general manager.

He followed his rookie season with a 27-goal, 67-point effort in 2010-11 before a serious injury detailed his third season, leaving him with merely 28 points in 58 games.

His next two seasons were excellent: 43 points in 47 games in the locked-out 2012-13 season, and 70 points (on 23 goals) in 71 games in 2013-14, and three assists in two playoff games. But he had another sub-par season last year, with 21 goals but just 55 total points in 82 games, and is off to an awful start this year with a lone goal (no assists) in 6 games so far.

Which brings the question: which is the real Matt Duchene? And with Nathan MacKinnon playing wing when he could be the team's #1 center, is it time to either slot Duchene in another role or - gasp! - consider trading him?

Reasons to keep him include his wealth of gold medals: 2008 U-17 Worlds, 2008 U-18 World Championships, 2008 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, 2012 Spengler Cup, 2014 Olympics, 2015 World Championships; most of which he was part of a support group on strong editions of Team Canada rather than the centerpiece.

Three seasons where he was close to a point-per-game pace; and yet, two very underwhelming ones as well.

At 5'11'' and 200 pounds, he's a little undersized in the Western Conference, which he would need to make up for with added intensity.

You could argue that he's perhaps just a little snake-bitten, as can be attested by Cam Ward's save from last night.

I haven't completely lost faith in him yet, but my patience is wearing a little thin. On a team with MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog as youthful building blocks and solid veterans like Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, offense shouldn't be an issue. (Then again, a deeper defense corps who can make good passes would go a long way in helping the forwards keep the play in the offensive zone).

That being said, he's still just 24 years old. And here he is wearing the Avs' white (away) uniform, with a matching game-worn swatch, from Panini's 2011-12 Titanium set (card #49 of the Game-Worn Gear sub-set):
Can't wait to find out where this leads.

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