It has already been eight years since Matt Duchene’s name was called at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Duchene was visibly relieved when the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t select him second overall, leaving the door open for his childhood favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche, to draft him third overall.
Drafting Duchene signaled a new era for the Avalanche, as Joe Sakic retired just over a week later. Since making the NHL in his first year after being drafted, Duchene has scored 418 points in 572 games. Despite being in the NHL for eight seasons, he’s only made the playoffs twice.
Duchene has also had a great international career, representing Team Canada at the Olympics, World Championships, and the World Cup, but for the sake of this list, we’ll only talk about his contributions at the NHL level. With trade rumours swirling around the centre since November 2015, Avalanche fans may have already watched Duchene’s last game with the team, therefore it’s the best time to reminisce about Duchene’s best moments in an Avalanche jersey.
5. First NHL Goal Against the Red Wings
When Duchene first broke in the league, he struggled to find to his first goal. After going scoreless for his first seven games, he finally got his first goal against the Detroit Red Wings.
After getting a pass from a defenseman, Duchene skated down the wing and took a wrist shot to score against Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood.
“It’s nice to get the monkey off my back there,” Duchene said after the game.
For a new face of the franchise, scoring a goal against a long time rival is an easy way to become a fan favorite.
4. Hat Trick Versus Dallas
While Duchene had many multi-goal games, the hat trick always eluded him. In a game against the Dallas Stars in November 2011, Duchene earned his first career three-goal game.
His first goal came on the power play in the first period, where a wrist shot went through Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen’s five-hole. Down 4-2, Duchene then added another goal in the second period to get the Avalanche closer to tying the game.
In the third period, on another Colorado power play, Duchene deked through Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas and rifled a shot top shelf to complete the hat trick. Despite his effort, Colorado ended up losing the game 7-6.
What makes this hat trick significant is the fact that it took another four years for the next Avalanche player, Nathan MacKinnon, to score a hat trick.
3. First 30-Goal Season
While this one may be a little controversial, depending on your opinion of the goal celebration, it’s still a significant achievement. In the 2015-16 season, Duchene became Colorado’s first 30-goal scorer since Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic in 2007. That’s almost 10 years!
Duchene’s 30th goal came against the St. Louis Blues late in the season in a 5-1 loss. It was then overshadowed by the celebration and head coach Patrick Roy’s comments afterward.
Roy said that he had a “hard time” watching Duchene celebrate the goal because the Blues were leading 4-0 at the time.
Despite the controversy, it was still nice for Avalanche fans to see a 30-goal scorer on their team as it could be awhile before they see another.
2. Highlight-Reel Goal Against the Penguins
This is still one of Duchene’s best goals, so here it is on this list. With a 1-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins early in the first of a game in 2011, Avalanche centre Paul Stastny found Duchene streaking in the slot, and the rest his history.
After receiving the pass, Duchene slid the puck between his legs and backhanded the puck past the sprawling Marc-Andre Fleury.
It’s a goal fans still see in highlight reels, and it’s a testament to how skilled Duchene can be.
1. Playoff-Clinching Goal
Needing a win to clinch a spot in the playoffs in the 2009-10 season, Colorado went all the way to a shootout against the Vancouver Canucks. Chris Stewart and Milan Hejduk missed for Colorado. Kyle Wellwood, Pavol Demitra, and Ryan Kesler also missed for the Canucks, giving Duchene the chance to score the playoff-clinching goal in the shootout.
Duchene deked Roberto Luongo and managed to squeeze the puck through the goalie to get Colorado back into the playoffs.
It was only the first of two playoff appearances for Duchene in an Avalanche jersey.