Cage Match: Ryan O’Reilly vs. Matt Duchene

Rick Roos


This weeks’ combatants are familiar fantasy names (Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene) putting much bigger smiles on the faces of their owners this season than was expected. With more than a quarter of the 2018-19 campaign in the books, can we safely assume both will continue their torrid pace, or will one or both come back to earth? And what might be in store for them in future seasons? Cage Match is on the case and starts now!

Career Path and Contract Status

O’Reilly, 27, was selected 33rd overall in 2009, but despite this ended up going directly into the NHL for his age 18 season, posting 26 points. From there he saw his 82-game production rate increase in the next two campaigns, first just a tad to 29 points but then nearly doubling to 55. During the next three campaigns with the Avs, ROR was a strong two-way presence for a weak offensive team, managing between 55 and 64 points per season. An offseason 2015 trade saw ROR go to Buffalo, where he again posted points within that same range over the course of three seasons, but for arguably an even weaker team. He was then part of yet another offseason trade during the summer, this time to St. Louis, where thus far he’s shined (26 points in 22 games).

Duchene, also 27, was selected 30 spots ahead of ROR in the 2009 draft and also in the NHL that same season, except in his case he tasted immediate success with 67 points. After a blip in the production radar (28 points in 58 games), Duchene posted 113 points in his next 118 games, and looked like an NHL (and fantasy) star in the making at age 23. But then over his next two campaigns he bested his prior two season total by one point……. in 40 more games, and he followed that in 2016-17 with a mere 41 points in 77 games as trade rumors swirled. He finally was dealt – to Ottawa – a little over a year ago and after a shaky start played some of his best hockey to date, with 29 points in his last 30 regular season games for a struggling team. This season he’s stepped things up another notch, with 29 points in 23 games.

O’Reilly is on year three of a seven-year deal signed while still in Buffalo and dinging the cap at $7.5M per campaign, while Duchene’s contract counts $6M against the cap for 2018-19 before he becomes a UFA this summer.

Ice Time (data in this and the other ta