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Avalanche True or False #4: Matt Duchene

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Day 4 of the MHH staff retreat saw a tropical wave over Tenerife and persistent rains predicted. A few of us were tired and hungover from saying out all night at the local street festival so we all agreed it was a spa day and took advantage of volcanic mud baths, massages and the like. Ryan even got a pedicure! Rested and refreshed, we met up for tapas and sangria in the billiard room with Matt Duchene the topic of the day.

Statement #4:

True or False: Matt Duchene is one-dimensional and doesn't have the defensive ability to be a #1 Center.

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ProferssorOak:

Mostly False:  Matt Duchene is by no means one dimensional and it is silly to think so.  I don't believe he has the defensive ability to be a # 1 shut down center.  He is fine defensively.  He will never be Patrice Bergeron or Ryan O'Reilly, but he's not lazy and has solid defensive awareness.  Say what you want about hockey writers, but he has fielded more than one Selke vote in the past.  Offensively, he is what you want in a #1 center that isn't elite.

Ryan Murphy:

False.

Matt Duchene is never going to be a Datsyuk or Bergeron, but he's proven to effective at both ends of the ice when paired with defensively competent wings. Too often last year he was having to make heroic back-checks to cover for the slow-skating Iginla and the bevy or 3rd and 4th liners that occupied his other side. With a competent line in 2013-14, Duchene not only put up a career high in points, but was also a positive possession player against good competition. Surround him with top-line wings and he can do it again.

Mike@MHH:

True.  Historical usage and his HERO chart have tended to tell this tale.  I, for one, have ho problem with this.


misterfish1:

Both? I don't know. Calling Duchene one-dimensional is something I find insulting because he's a damn good hockey player. Buuuuuuuuuuut most of the reason why he's so good is because of his offensive ability. It's not like we look at Dutchy as an amazing defensive talent anymore than a football fan will look at Peyton Manning for his defensive prowess. He's still a #1 center to me though. I'm under the opinion that when you can make as many things happen on offense as Matt, you have the right to be a #1 center. And if it's a battle between Duchene and MacKinnon for the true #1 center spot, I'll put more faith in Duchene's defense than I will Mack's.

Steven Page:

False.

Okay, so maybe Duchene hasn't completely developed the 200-foot game that was part of the reason he was drafted, but he is by no means a defensive burden. Defensively he may be somewhat average, but offensively he's right on the cusp of being a superstar in the NHL. The question of whether he's a first liner depends upon how Roy wishes to arrange his lines. Duchene may not always be the guy you want matching up against the other team's top forward, but he has definitely proven he can handle himself against the top D.

SteveHouse:

I struggled with this one, for what it's worth. Let's split it into two questions.

QUESTION THE FORMER: IS MATT DUCHENE ONE-DIMENSIONAL
I mean... yeah, probably. He's a very offensively gifted guy who's pretty crap in his own zone. If you hit him with a breakout pass it'll all be worth it but he's not going to generate that pass himself.

QUESTION THE LATTER: DOES THIS PRECLUDE HIM FROM BEING A #1 CENTER
No. Hell no. Duchene puts up really high level numbers against the top opposition the other side has to throw at him. He produces offensively at a 1C level and then the rest of the team behind him benefits from his line tanking the other team's toughs. Their matchups are easier. He makes the rest of the team better simply by being such a ferocious offensive threat that he demands his opponents' best out there, and that makes him 1C material to me because he still delivers in his own right.

Now that DOES mean he's not an Elite 1C. To be an Elite 1C you have to be great both ways (ahem). But those guys make $8-10 million annually for a reason.



earl06:

False. Dutch has shown solid 2-way ability at other levels and situations (like Team Canada in international play). For various reasons it hasn't exactly been the case with the Avalanche, but I believe as he matures and the onus of generating offense gets spread throughout the lineup he can raise the level of his defensive game to be in the top 20 or 30 centers in the league for sure. As with everyone else on the team, when the defense gets more proficient at suppressing shots players like Duchene and MacKinnon will look a lot better as 2-way players.

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What do you think, dear reader? True or False?