What has been an extremely quiet summer for the Colorado Avalanche got a bit louder earlier this week, when the club agreed to a new five-year contract extension with forward Matt Duchene. Set to become a restricted free agent next summer, the new deal will nearly double his cap hit. But it’ll be worth it for the Avalanche.
Duchene wasn’t eligible for an extension last summer, but after his 2011-12 season, this is a deal that would have been a bit more questionable than it is now. With a strong 2013 season, Duchene firmly established himself as one of the game’s young stars, and a building block for this franchise.
With 0.91 points per game, Duchene finished with what was easily his highest scoring rate of his career. He was one of their only consistent offensive performers in Colorado, finishing with 43 points, tied for the team lead, along with P.A. Parenteau. His 26 helpers led the team, while his 17 goals came in at no. 2, behind only Parenteau.
Despite being a bit undersized for the position, Duchene provided strong two-way play for the Avalanche. He likely won’t be mistaken for a Selke Trophy candidate anytime soon, but he won a career best 54.6 percent of his draws. He also added 44 takeaways, tops on the team.
It was a nice rebound year for Duchene after an extremely disappointing 2011-12 season. He appeared in only 58 games that year because of injury, and finished the season with only 28 points. Many wondered if a weak 2013 would spell the end for him, with the Avs boasting other talented offensive players. Not the case anymore.
The five-year extension will carry a new cap hit of $6 million. While his play in 2013 was certainly worthy of that type of dough, we’ll have to wait and see if he can prove to be that valuable over the long term. He certainly looked the part this season. Will that carry over into the future?