This season, the Nashville Predators have faced plenty of adversity, as GM David Poile decided to relieve the second coach in franchise history, Peter Laviolette of his duties on January 7th, and replace him with former New Jersey Devils head coach, John Hynes. Nashville had lost four of their last five games and were eleventh in the Western Conference at the time of the change. Since then, the Predators are 16-11-1 under John Hynes and currently hold the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference with a 35-26-8 record. They were also playing very well before the play stoppage and had a record of 6-3-1 in their last ten games, while on a three-game winning streak.
John Hynes will be the fifth coach David Poile’s prized free-agent acquisition Matt Duchene will play for in his last three seasons (Jared Bednar in Colorado in 2017-18, Guy Boucher in Ottawa from 2017-2019, John Tortorella in Columbus at the end 2018-19, Peter Laviolette at the beginning of 2019-20, and now Hynes). Despite this fact, he had a solid year production-wise in Nashville, as he scored thirteen goals and registered twenty-nine assists in sixty-six games. His twenty-nine assists were the third-highest on Nashville this season under Roman Josi’s forty-nine and Ryan Ellis’ thirty. Impressively, Duchene drew the most penalties of anyone on Nashville this season with a whopping twenty-eight (excluding offsetting and major penalties) for a solid 12:28 penalty taken/drawn ratio. Duchene even had a solid 36:31 giveaway/takeaway ratio (-5 turnover +/-), which was actually a decent ratio compared to others on Nashville this season. Lastly, Duchene was -4 on the season +/- wise.
AB wise, however, Duchene finished with a +0.89 individual score in his first season as a Predator. This score was the ninth-highest on the team behind Rocco Grimaldi (+3.93), Craig Smith (+3.60), Ryan Ellis (+3.25), Colin Blackwell (+3.14), Roman Josi (+3.08), Nick Bonino (+2.48), Calle Jarnkrok (+1.82), and Daniel Carr (+1.48). Duchene’s career AB score is a solid +0.82 over the eleven seasons of data we have on him. His +0.89 individual score was his best score since the 2015-16 season, the last season he played in Colorado before he was traded across the league. Perhaps his movement and playing for five coaches in three seasons played a role in his low AB performance, which is something we will better understand when our coaching project is completed.
We ran Matt Duchene’s seven-year, $56 million contract that he signed with the Predators on July 1st, 2019, through our arbitration analyzer and determined that comparable contracts were Columbus’ Gustav Nyquist ($5.5 million AAV), Boston’s Charlie Coyle ($5.25 million AAV), and Anaheim’s Adam Henrique ($5.825 million AAV). According to these projections, Matt Duchene is worth around the 5-6 million range as opposed to the 7-8 million dollar range. Perhaps with some stability knowing he won’t be on the move as he was in his last three seasons will help him elevate his game back to his seventy point ways. More to come.