The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club selected center Matt Duchene
with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft held tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Duchene is the highest draft pick for the Avalanche since the team moved to Colorado in 1995. The last time the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise selected in the top three of any draft was 1991, when they picked No. 1 overall (Eric Lindros). In fact, only four previous times has the franchise picked in the top three: 1988 (3rd overall - Curtis Leschyshyn), 1989 (1st overall – Mats Sundin), 1990 (1st overall – Owen Nolan) and 1991.
“Matt is a very skilled, two-way player,” said Avalanche Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Pracey. “We are very excited about adding him to our organization.”
Duchene, 18, just completed his second season with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. The Haliburton, Ontario native finished third on the Battalion in scoring with 79 points (31g/48a) in 57 games. He 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). Duchene added 26 points (14g/12a) in 21 playoff games.
“It’s unbelievable, a dream come true,” said Duchene. “The Colorado Avalanche was my favorite team growing up and to be drafted by them is just unbelievable.”
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.
NHL Central Scouting ranked Duchene No. 2 among North American skaters in its final rankings for the 2009 Entry Draft. According to Central Scouting, “Duchene has the ability to dominate games. He is an excellent all-around skater with great speed, his playmaking, ability to see the ice and move the puck through traffic to create offense are outstanding.”
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.
The NHL Entry Draft resumes tomorrow (Saturday, June 27) with rounds 2-7 beginning at 8:00 a.m. MDT.