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Duchene Settling In as Predators Training Camp Hits the Ice

Nashville Centerman Getting Acclimated to New Surroundings, Excited for What's to Come

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Matt Duchene is settling into his new surroundings - at least as well as he can at the moment.   

The Nashville centerman took to the ice on Saturday morning as the first practice of Predators Training Camp arrived at Centennial Sportsplex, a session that has been a long time coming.

It was two-and-a-half months ago when Duchene officially became a member of the Preds, and since that time, there have been trips to Nashville, Colorado and a few spots in his native Ontario as he and his family prepared for the permanent move to Music City.

And as anyone who has ever changed residences can attest, it's not always the smoothest process.

"We're not settled in yet," Duchene laughed following Saturday's skate. "It's a bit of grind off the ice right now. We've got an eight-month-old who has to be on a pretty strict schedule, or else he's a little bit of a maniac like any other eight-month-old would be, but it's a lot of fun. It's nice to come to the rink and just be able to do what I do and have some structure and some consistency here, because it's crazy off the ice right now."

Video: Matt Duchene is settling into Nashville

That structure started off in the form of Mikael Granlund and Filip Forsberg on Duchene's wings during their respective group's turn on the ice, and while Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette cautioned reading too much into any one line combination or defensive pairing on Day One, it's a trio that could get some looks as the preseason schedule arrives.

"The nice part is I've played in this division almost my whole career… and I've seen [Granlund] in Minnesota hundreds of times, it feels like, and the same with Fil playing against the Preds here," Duchene said. "I know what these guys do out there, I know what their strengths are because you have to defend against it when you're playing against them.

"It's exciting. Coming here, a big reason I'm here is I thought this forward group is extremely gifted, and I saw myself fitting in well with these guys and the way they play. Hopefully I'm right, and it's going to be a lot of fun to play with the talent that's on this hockey team."

No matter who Duchene finds himself flanked by come Opening Night, the Predators are certainly thrilled to have him. This current forward corps is arguably the deepest ever possessed in Nashville, and Duchene figures to play a large role each and every outing.

"He's a guy that's been proven to bring a lot of offense, and he's a great skater and dynamic player," Laviolette said of Duchene. "I feel like he's a really good fit with the group of forwards that we have, and I'm sure we'll see a lot of different combinations in training camp. This was Day One, but it's nice to get a skillset like that here, someone who can help contribute to what we're trying to do."

Video: Coach Laviolette talks Preds training camp

As there is with anything of this magnitude, Duchene knows there will be an adjustment process. He's dealt with it before when he joined both the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets during the season over the past two years, respectively, but starting off with the Predators in training camp undoubtedly plays into his favor.

"I've been through it a few times now, so I know what to expect," Duchene said of changing clubs. "I'm not expecting it to be the same as its been before, and you just take it each day at a time and get more familiar, talk with linemates and figure things out. It should be fun."

Fun will be an understatement if things work out the way the Preds think they can, and Duchene wants nothing more than to contribute toward that ultimate goal.

The next three weeks of camp should allow adequate time to become familiar with his surroundings as he settles in on and off the ice. And once that happens, anything is possible.

"The anticipation, you just build it up, and now I finally get out with the boys and get to be where I've wanted to be for so long," Duchene said. "It's very exciting."

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