Matt Duchene is one of the top centers on the Colorado Avalanche roster. With the NHL lockout, the former first-round draft pick is currently playing overseas with Frolunda HC with the likes of Viktor Stalberg, Joel Lundqvist and Fabian Brunnstrom, and his junior hockey career has helped him get to where he is today.
Prior to joining the NHL, Duchene played two seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. At 16, he was selected in the first round of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection by the Brampton Battalion, where the young forward would go on to spend the next two years.
Duchene made his debut with the Battalion on September 21, 2007, in a 2-1 loss to the Ottawa 67s. Although he was kept off the scoresheet in his opening game, he made a splash the following match, scoring his first OHL goal on September 23 against Niagara Ice Dogs goaltender Andrew Loverock.
He’d go on to score his first hat trick in the following game, a September 28 match-up against Sudbury. Duchene also added an assist (his first in the league), was a plus-3 and got first star honors in the Battalion’s commanding 10-2 win over the Wolves.
Duchene ended the month of September with four goals, one assist and a plus-3 in four games played. He’d go on to score five points in 11 games in October before adding four points in November and another five in December.
After missing a few games with Brampton due to the World Juniors, he had several multi-point games in January, scoring five goals and five assists in 11 games. He ended the month with a goal, assist and plus-one in a January 27 game against Brampton – a night that would kick off a six-game point streak for the forward.
With that streak and a handful more games, Duchene would score 12 goals and two assists in the month of February. He had a point in all but four Battalion games that month and was at least a plus-1 in seven of 12 games.
Finally, his rookie season would end with a nine-point performance in the month of March, including three multi-point games. He ended the season with 30 goals and 20 assists in 64 games.
The “sophomore slump” never hit Duchene, as he entered his second year in the OHL and with Brampton in 2008. He tied his six-game point streak in March, when he scored five goals and 6 assists in six games at the end of the month.
He also added his second OHL hat trick on January 8, and had a four-point night when he notched four assists on November 16. Several three- and four-game point streaks throughout the season made it quite a productive year – 79 points in 57 regular season games.
Brampton reached the OHL Finals, where they were defeated by the Windsor Spitfires, who would go on to win the Memorial Cup, and Duchene entered the 2009 NHL Entry Draft ranked second-overall.
As John Tavares was selected first overall by the NY Islanders, and then Victor Hedman went to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Duchene began his NHL career by being selected third overall that year by the Colorado Avalanche.
The Haliburton native went on to make his NHL debut on October 1, 2009 against the San Jose Sharks. It was then that he notched his first point – an assist on a goal by John-Michael Liles – before scoring his first NHL goal on October 17 against Chris Osgood.
His future up until that point hadn’t been decided – would he go back to the OHL, or remain on the Avalanche roster for the entirety of the season? Colorado went with the second option, and the rookie went on to score 24 goals and 31 assists in 81 games. He also added three assists in six playoff games.
Duchene’s sophomore NHL season would see him rack up 67 points (27-40) and 33 penalty minutes in 80 games.
Last season, his play was limited by knee and ankle injuries; he played just 58 games, but managed to notch 28 points in that time. He agreed to a two-year contract with the Avalanche after the season before signing with Frolunda to play there during the lockout.