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The Central Division's Top Five Players

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The NHL’s newest realignment brought a lot of changes, and more new faces in each division. Out of the four new divisions, the Central Division has arguably the best and brightest talent league-wide. With great new players on the rise, and existing stars alike, this division is sure to hold some of the most exciting action in the NHL. Today, we take a look at the top five players in the Central Division.

May 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) moves skates past Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. The Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 23, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) takes a shot against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t long ago that Matt Duchene was the face of the future for the Colorado Avalanche, on draft day in 2009. Just four short years later, the 22-year old from Hamilton, Ontario is leading the team’s offense. Duchene isn’t just an offensive weapon, however, and his 200-foot game resembles another great Avalanche player; his GM, Joe Sakic. Duchene uses his blistering speed both ways, breaking around defenders at one end and smothering an enemy chance at the other. His great hands have landed himself on many highlight reels, and his ability to score the ‘big’ goal is a huge plus for Colorado.

At a smaller-than-average 5’11″, Duchene isn’t worried about his size. His physical play and grit are also brought to the spotlight, and determination to get the job done takes Duchene places where players his size usually aren’t seen. Duchene has missed two or fewer games in 3 of his 4 professional seasons, and in 2013 tied P.A. Parenteau for the top spot in Avalanche points, with 43 (17 G, 26 A). Duchene’s complete game also puts him in a leadership role, and he would be a shoo-in for Captain if it weren’t for fellow young star Gabriel Landeskog. Duchene’s game has steadily improved over the course of his four-year NHL career, and he is now known as one of the best young two-way forwards in the game today.

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