Colorado Avalanche

Attention NHL GMs: Avalanche May Foolishly Trade Matt Duchene

(Photograph by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)

Rumors began circulating on Thursday evening that Patrick Roy isn’t a big fan of star forward Matt Duchene and that the Colorado Avalanche could be willing or even actively looking to deal the forward.

Duchene is  just 24, plays center and hasn’t scored fewer than 55 points in any season that wasn’t cut short by a lockout or injury. He’s also under contract through 2018-19 for a very reasonable $6 million cap hit.  All 29 NHL general managers should be manning their battle stations to check in on these rumors.

The Avs badly need an upgrade at defense, and they’ll certainly have to give up something of value to get something of value in return. But Duchene is the type of a player a team should look to acquire more of, not look to trade away because their head coach apparently can’t properly evaluate the talent at his disposal.

For a wide-angle look at Duchene, here’s his hero chart.

Duchene is inarguably a player who produces and drives possession at a first line level. Again, the type of player teams should want to acquire more of, not trade away.

It’s not as if the Avs have a surplus of forward talent and can easily replace Duchene’s abilities in their lineup. While they certainly have some exciting players to watch, Duchene has consistently been one of their best, if not the best, forwards.

Since the start of the 2013-14 season, 12 forwards have played 1,000-plus 5v5 minutes for Colorado. Here’s how Duchene ranks in a few categories.

Category Duchene (Rank)
Point/60 2.29 (1st)
Shot Attempts For/60 53.05 (5th)
Relative Shot Attempt Percentage +2.11 (5th)
Scoring Chances For/60 28.75 (2nd)
Relative Scoring Chance Percentage +4.88 (3rd)
Penalty Differential +32 (1st)

Duchene has been the Avs most productive player, he’s a driver of possession and scoring chances, and he draws penalties as good as just about anyone in the league. Duchene’s penalty differential is the third best among all NHL forwards during that span. This value to the Avs shouldn’t be understated, as they are among the worst teams at 5v5 hockey this season.

Duchene also makes his teammates better. Of the 10 teammates he has skated the most minutes with since the start of 2013-14, eight have seen an increase in their shot attempt percentage when on the ice with Duchene. 

The only players among the ten that didn’t see an improvement of their shot attempt percentage with Duchene are Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.

The Avs would obviously be mistaken to trade Duchene, unless they got an offer they absolutely couldn’t refuse. Among many of his positives, he’s their most productive forward, he draws penalties at an elite level, and he’s locked up for a few seasons at a reasonable cap hit. Every NHL GM should be making repeated calls to the Avs front office about acquiring Duchene. As for the Avs, they should be looking to acquire more player like Duchene, not looking to trade him away.

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