Matt Duchene felt drawn to the Nashville Predators. After all, he had a place down there and the fit felt right. Finally, come July 1st, this became a reality as Duchene signed an eight-year, $56 million deal. There exist some considerable questions with this deal as there expects to be some fallout.
Let’s take a look at that and ponder a few questions too.
What Matt Duchene means to the Nashville Predators
Duchene plays center a little different. Defensively and possession-wise, the pivot goes for opportunities as opposed to always wanting to control the puck. It is a bit of a high-risk, high-reward style. When it pays off, it is great. The forward excels at winning face-offs — even won nearly 56% of them during his limited time in Columbus.
His versatility for the Blue Jackets was well documented. He played on both of the top lines and power-play units which will serve him well in Nashville. Duchene goes from one of the worst power-plays to the worst (31st in the league). Here is one red flag. Matt Duchene scored just six goals and 14 power play points all year in 2018-19.
One has to go back all the way to the 2013-14 season for the last time he topped 15 points on the man advantage. The bright side is that Duchene scored 14 times with the extra man over the past two seasons. Nashville needs that production desperately. Is that enough alone to put him on the top unit and bump Ryan Johansen down?
Johansen morphed into too much of a playmaker almost. He scored just once on the power play over the past two seasons. At the very least, expect Duchene to be the fourth forward on the first unit.
Furthermore, at even strength, it appears Duchene will be slotted into the second-line role and get around the same ice time as in Columbus. That second line may include Filip Forsberg at times. However, projections suggest Mikael Granlund and Kyle Turris for now. Those could change.
Salary breakdown of Matt Duchene contract
Below, are the details of the new Duchene deal with Nashville.
Duchene has a 7-team No-trade clause the last three seasons of the contract https://t.co/qFc11xkRHM
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2019
A little numerology with Matt Duchene
Duchene presents an interesting case as he looks for opportunity and quality. Sometimes he can be too patient which results in missed chances. As Bill Comeau’s game score chart points out, he is above average overall. Possession drops when he is on the ice, however. On the bright side, his shooting percentage is very good along with ice time, goals, and penalty differential.
Matt Duchene draws quite a few penalties. Nashville needs that as well even though they were sixth in the league (255 power plays). One cannot score on the power play if opportunities are not generated. So, the more chances, the more hope pucks go in the net.
Expected goals and primary assists were up as well last year for Duchene. The two main concerns are defense and shot attempts. There are times where the center enters himself into the pass-happy mode. That is something Nashville has been guilty of for some time with Johansen.
The idea is that Duchene jolts the Nashville team into scoring a few more goals at the least. They may allow a few more but it is a trade-off most in the Predators’ organization are willing to take. Duchene scored 25+ goals in three of his last four campaigns. Nashville signed its man and now will he stand and deliver?