11 May 2011
I completely disagree with A-. I've mentioned this before, but I think people are letting his potential blind them to his actual play this season. Not that he was bad all season, he wasn't, but he was a complete disappointment for 2 months. His play wasn't just slumping... it was abysmal. Between January 12th and March 11th The Avalanche played 24 games, (Duchene played in 22). That's more than 1/4 of the season. In those 22 games Matt Duchene had 7 points (3G, 4A). That's .32 points per game. (And for those of you who care about ± he was -18 over that stretch as well). By the Way TJ Hensick’s career PPG: .34.
And I’ve seen the “Duchene had terrible line mates” excuse used. But, at least over that 22 game stretch of futility he was almost always paired with Milan Hejduk. In fact here's his linemates for those 22 games:
Hejduk - 17
Stewart - 5
Porter - 5
Fleishcmann - 3
Stoa - 2
Stastny - 1
McClement - 1
So the bad linemate excuse is marginal at best. He did have some poor line mates, but his most common ones were Hejduk and Jones.
“Defenses Focused on Duchene” was also another excuse used to rationalize his poor play over that stretch. But according to Behind the Net Paul Stastny played the hardest competition among forwards. Followed by Jones, Stoa(!?!), Hejduk, and then Duchene.
I know he's only a sophomore, and he'll get better. There were a lot of positives in this season (outside that 22 games he was fantastic. Definitely A work there). But there were some struggles. significant ones. Sure 19 year old sophomores are expected to struggle at times. In the same token “A”s are about exceeding expectations. Do people really think Duchene exceeded his expectations this season?
So, what exactly was expected from Duchene this season? Well if you have an Avalanche blog: You expected Duchene to have at least 75-80 points this season. In fact only one of the members of the pre-season round table had Duchene pegged for lower than 70 points this season (congrats Adam Hersh, An Avalanche of Thoughts for your accurate pessimism). You’ll also notice that on the poll Duchene didn’t meet the expectations of 70.5% of Avs fans, and barely met expectations for another 21.8%. Meaning Duchene exceeded expectations for a whopping 7.8% of fans.
Is that deserving of an A, or A-? Probably not. My grade for Duchene: B. I was going to give a B-, but I’ll give him a small bump for being only 19. Again, this isn’t measuring his career potential or anything like that. But as far as expectations for this season, I think Matt Duchene met them. No more, no less.