Matt Duchene will probably be compared to John Tavares for the rest of his NHL career.
That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to year-by-year draft debates. While the New York Islanders took Tavares with the first pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Duchene shot up the ranks to become the third pick – and second forward/center – to be chosen when Colorado nabbed him.
From that day forward, Duchene and Tavares will be linked like Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin and many other draft day pairings. (I’m guess that no one will waste much time with the Alexandre Daigle-Chris Pronger debate, though.)
Two very different centers with remarkably similar results
If there’s one thing that distinguishes Duchene – at least in my mind – it’s his blazing speed. Those dynamic wheels were on display during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game when Nicklas Lidstrom fed him with a beautiful lead pass as Duchene scored a downright pretty breakaway goal.
On the other hand, Tavares is known for producing impressive offense despite a lack of high-end skating ability. He has a knack for finding ways to score goals with his high hockey IQ, great hands and overall imagination.
Despite key distinctions, the two forwards produce remarkably similar results. Duchene has a slight edge in overall points (51 goals, 122 points) while Tavares scored a couple extra goals (53 goals, 121 points). With those nearly identical numbers in mind, Duchene wants other figures to be in line: their second contract salaries. That would mean something in the range of Tavares’ six-year, $33 million deal.
Duchene told The Denver Post that he isn’t worried about the situation, though.
“If I take care of business, that’s a reward. That’s not something that you aim for. It’s not a destination. It’s a byproduct,” he said matter of factly.
“J.T. and I are pretty close. I didn’t talk to J.T. about it, but I talked to our agent, Pat Brisson, about it, and we weren’t sure what was going to happen right after he signed, whether it was going to be potentially something for me, but I didn’t really care either way,” Duchene said. “I love playing the game and the money is obviously nice, but I’ve never let that be a distraction for me. Not once. I’m not worried about it whatsoever.”
The Tavares contract might be a lofty comparison, but it could be worse
For those who believe that Duchene doesn’t have the same high-end potential as Tavares, $5.5 million per year might seem like a scary figure. To some extent, it is.
That being said, the Avalanche would be better off if Brisson and Duchene use Tavares as a comparable rather than one of Duchene’s teammates. If the Duchene camp takes the approach that Drew Doughty’s did with Anze Kopitar in regards to Paul Stastny’s $6.6 million per year rate, then cash-conscious Colorado could have reason for concern.
Interestingly enough, both the Avalanche and Islanders have reason to believe that 2011-12 will be far different than cellar-dwelling seasons in 10-11. Colorado might want to follow the Isles’ lead in wrapping up their budding star center, although the Avs’ situation isn’t as simple because of certain commitments.
Either way, Duchene will get his numbers – both in points and salary – so the big question for each concern is “How much?”