Remember when the Ryan O'Reilly contract squabble led torumors of a feud with teammate Matt Duchene? Then questions were posed about Duchene's future with the Colorado Avalanche? Then it was all squashed as nonsense?
Further dampening anyone's hopes that there was some turmoil between the two is the news that Duchene signed a 5-year, $30 million extension with the Avalanche on Thursday. The $6 million average annual value will kick in at the start of the 2014-15 NHL season.
From the Avalanche:
"Matt already is and will be a big part of our team's nucleus for the long term," said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. "We all felt that it was important for us to secure his rights for several seasons. With his great skills, speed and character, he represents the identity we want the Avalanche to be."
In June 2012, Duchene signed a 2-year deal paying him $7 million. In the same vein as Tuukka Rask inking a 1-year extension last summer, it was a "prove it" contract for the 22-year old center. Coming off a season where he posted just 28 points in 58 games, Duchene needed a big showing if he was going to get paid.
Duchene showed the Avalanche why they needed to lock him up with a 17-goal, 43-point 2013 season. The 0.91 points per game was a career high. And with Paul Stastny and top pick Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado will be set down the middle for next season as they attempt to turn things around after a 29th place campaign. New head coach Patrick Roy said earlier this month he expects Duchene to center O'Reilly and P.A. Parenteau.
We'd say that Avs general manager Greg Sherman will be busy in the next few months with the number of upcoming restricted and unrestricted free agents on the team, but, come on, the dude wasn't even quoted in the press release for Duchene. It'll be Joe Sakic being the busy one trying to lock up O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog, while figuring out whether or not Stastny and Semyon Varlamov will be part of the team's bigger picture.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy