Two 18-year-old rookies have helped the Colorado Avalanche
jump to the early lead in the Western Conference. It appears at least one of them will be staying in the NHL all season.
According to a report in the Denver Post, the Avalanche have decided to keep Matt Duchene
, the third pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, with the team for the remainder of the season.
The newspaper also cited a report on the Web site of the Brampton Battalion -- Duchene's junior club -- that said Brampton coach/GM Stan Butler had been told by the Avalanche that Duchene would not be returning.
Duchene scored his first NHL goal in Saturday's win in Detroit, and in eight games he has 4 points. He's centering the team's second line, is fifth among the team's forwards in ice time, averaging 16:58 per game, including 4:02 on the power play, third among the club's forwards.
According to NHL rules, if a player with junior eligibility remaining plays 10 NHL games, the first year of his entry-level contract goes into effect. The Avalanche still would be able to send Duchene back to his junior club, but that's unlikely due to his contract status and the fact that they wouldn't be able to recall him until Brampton's season was over.
The Avalanche is facing a similar decision with center Ryan O'Reilly
, the team's second-round pick (No. 33). O'Reilly has a goal, 6 points and a plus-5 rating in eight games, second on the team and tied for the lead among all rookies. O'Reilly also is one of the Avalanche's top penalty killers, averaging 2:50 per game in man-down time, second among the club's forwards.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.