It wasn’t too long ago that Matt Duchene hit the first major rough patch of his NHL career. He missed a significant portion of the 2011-12 campaign due to a knee injury and wasn’t particularly effective when healthy.
Duchene ended up with just 14 goals and 28 points in 58 contests that season. That prompted the Colorado Avalanche to play hardball during his contract negotiations and led to his two-year, $7 million deal.
Rather than be discouraged by his struggles, Duchene used them as motivation.
“It was a real tough year, but I wanted to try and use it to learn and get better,” Duchene told the Denver Post.
He succeeded and that resulted in his recently signed five-year, $30 million deal.
After recording 43 points in 47 games, the 22-year-old forward is looking to take another step forward next season. It helps that new coach Patrick Roy plans to put him on an intriguing line. Duchene will play alongside Ryan O’Reilly, who is shifting from center to the left wing.
“I just talked some with Ryan [yesterday], and he’s going to be great on the wing. I think he’s played some there before, and I think he can be really strong there,” Duchene said.
P.A. Parenteau, who matched Duchene’s 43 points last season, will round out the line. We’ll see how long they stay together, but they’re certainly a talented trio.