Colorado Avalanche Season Preview: What to Expect from Milan Hejduk in 2011-2012
Hejduk was drafted in 1994, and was somewhat of a steal, going in the 4th round as the 87th overall pick. He broke into the league with 48 points in 1998-1999, besting his draft class counterpart and Calder Trophy winner Chris Drury by four points.
The following year, Hejduk increased his point total by 24, netting 36 goals in the process. In fact, his rookie season is the only season Hejduk has failed to score at least 20 goals. In 2003, he captured the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy, scoring 50 goals.
He has steadily scored 50+ points throughout his career in Colorado, and although he is past his prime, Hejduk will likely continue to put up points for the team in 2011-2012.
Last year, he increased on his previous year's point total by 12, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he put up around 50 points again this year.
Hejduk is the anchor of Colorado's right wing. Young players like David Jones are developing into productive wingers, but you'll still see Hejduk at the top of the depth chart.
Expect to see Hejduk start the season on a line with Matt Duchene and Peter Mueller. The chemistry between Hejduk, Duchene and Mueller is something the coaches will want to take another look at now that Mueller is healthy again. Hejduk has also had success with Paul Stastny in the past, so if there is an injury or one of the lines isn't performing, don't be surprised to see him on Stastny's line at different times throughout the season.
Hejduk's name has also been mentioned in the debate for who should be the team's captain this upcoming season.
There is no doubt that he deserves the "C", given his years of service to the club and valuable playoff experience. But Hejduk is the type of player that likes to focus on playing hockey. He isn't one to challenge the referees, make a big speech in the locker room, or call out someone who isn't performing.
He can lead, though, so if he is called upon to be the team's third captain, he will no doubt accept.
As far as point totals go for next season, Hejduk's age will probably cause him to fall a bit short of his career average of 63 per year. He will likely end up with 45-50 points, and hit the 20 goal mark for a 12th straight season.
Don't expect Hejduk's name to come up in any trade rumors, either. He has won a cup, and enjoys playing in Denver.
Avalanche fans are lucky to have had such a consistent player on the team for the last 13 years. At the rate he's been going, Milan Hejduk should have a couple more impact seasons in him before he retires.
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