Colorado Avalanche: Could Matt Duchene Be the Next Avalanche Captain?

Kevin GoffContributor IAugust 20, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 10:  Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on December 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 10: Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on December 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Matt Duchene was probably the best player for the Colorado Avalanche last season and the guy that really gave the Avalanche faithful some kind of hope even after the season was lost.

Duchene tied for the team lead in goals scored last season (27) and assists (40). He led the team in points, with a grand total of 67, in just his second year as a professional hockey player.

There were times during the past season where it seemed that Matt Duchene was really able to elevate his game and his team.

This was especially evident just before Christmas when Matt Duchene went on a huge scoring run that led to a six-game winning streak and had the Avalanche sitting atop the Northwest Division.

There are a lot of qualities about Duchene that would make him a fantastic captain.

Right now, Matt Duchene is arguably the best and most consistent player on the team. His skill level cannot be questioned and he's only going to get better. In his first two seasons he has managed to not only put up a similar amount of points, but he also got better from one season to the next.

Not only did his numbers go up, his ability to react to the speed of the game improved as well. Duchene's instincts were always good, but now he is up to speed and keeping his head up all the time.

Then there is his energy level.

Fans love it when Matt Duchene scores a goal because he speeds up after the puck has gone in the net.

He skates off pumping his fists, jumps into the boards and tackles his teammates when they come to congratulate him, all while shouting as if he scored the goal that won them the Stanley Cup.

The best thing is that he reacts the same way even when he isn't the guy that scored the goal. You want to score while Duchene is on the ice because he gets you so excited by the way he gets excited. It's infectious.

That kind of energy and enthusiasm really rubs off on a team and can get the bench and the whole building rocking.

A young team like the Avalanche could really benefit from that type of energy. They also have a couple of solid veterans that can balance out Duchene's energy to help the rest of the team channel his energy in the right direction.

Duchene is also capable of filling multiple roles. He won't just be in there when the team needs to score goals, he is also capable of killing penalties.

There were also several times towards the end of the season that Duchene was sent to take a lot of important faceoffs, showing that he could win. You want your biggest players to be taking care of business when it matters the most and Duchene is beginning to show that he can do those things.

Most importantly, Matt Duchene represents the future of the Colorado Avalanche. He is going to be the face of the franchise for years to come.

Why not put the "C" on the guy who is going to be the one that everybody associates the franchise with for as long as he plays?

About the only real argument against making Duchene captain is his age. At just 20 years old, Duchene would be among the youngest players ever to take on the captaincy of his team.

At the same time, he wouldn't be the youngest. At the start of the season, Duchene is going to be 20 years and 265 days old. That would make him the fourth-youngest NHL captain ever, just behind Jonathan Toews and slightly ahead of Steve Yzerman.

The big question that the Avalanche need to answer is whether or not they believe Duchene has established himself as the kind of leader that would earn the captaincy at such a young age.

My personal belief is that Duchene is about one year out from that type of role with the team, but there are many that could see him taking the reins right now.

Duchene does have the respect of the team and the adoration of the fans. Who knows, maybe right now is the perfect time to start the Matt Duchene era of the Colorado Avalanche.