Matt Duchene has had tumultuous off-season with his name constantly being brought up in trade rumours, but on Thursday night the Colorado Avalanche centre was able to put all that to the side and focus on playing the game he loves.
Duchene scored a goal six minutes into the third period to put his team up 5-0 over the Dallas Stars in pre-season action. The Stars scored midway through the final frame to break up a Semyon Varlamov shutout bid and the final score ended up being 5-1.
Centring a line between Alex Kerfoot and Nail Yakupov, Duchene finished the game with 18:38 of ice time spread across 25 shifts and led his team with six shots on goal.
His performance impressed Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar.
“I’ve talked to him. I think he’s come back a motivated player and he’s playing with two other new players and that line’s been good all training camp and they were good again tonight,” Bednar told reporters at the Pepsi Center.
Fans in Denver were happy to see No. 9 back on the ice, cheering loudly when he beat Stars netminder Landon Bow with a nice wrister.
The 26-year-old has two years remaining on his current contract with an annual salary cap hit of $6 million and is still reportedly garnering trade interest from around the league.