The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that it has signed first-round draft choice Matt Duchene to a three-year, entry-level contract.
“Matt is an integral part of our future,” said Avalanche General Manager Greg Sherman. “He is a very skilled, two-way player with a strong work ethic and great character. We’re excited to have him under contract and look forward to him participating in training camp this fall.”
Duchene, the third overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, is the highest draft pick for the Avalanche since the team moved to Colorado in 1995. The Haliburton, Ontario native just completed his second season with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League, where he finished third on the club in scoring with 79 points (31g/48a) in 57 games. Duchene, 18, ranked second on the club in assists, third in goals and plus/minus (+32) and tied for the team lead in both power-play (12) and short-handed goals (4). He added 26 points (14g/12a) in 21 playoff games.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Duchene. “To be part of an NHL organization is something you always strive for as a kid. This is the first step, but I know I have a lot of work to do to reach my goal of playing in the NHL.”
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound center participated in the 2009 OHL All-Star Classic and the CHL Top Prospects Game. He was voted the “Best Playmaker” and “Best Stickhandler” in the OHL’s Eastern Conference Coaches Poll.
Duchene also has international experience with Team Canada, winning a gold medal as Canada’s captain at the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. He also won gold as a member of Team Canada at the 2008 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)