Avalanche lock up first-round draft pick Matt Duchene with rookie contract

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DENVER - Matt Duchene has his first professional hockey contract.

The Colorado Avalanche signed the third overall pick in this year's draft to a three-year entry level deal Thursday.

Duchene was the highest draft pick for the Avalanche since the team moved to Colorado from Quebec in 1995.

"To be part of an NHL organization is something you always strive for as a kid," said Duchene in a statement. "This is the first step, but I know I have a lot of work to do to reach my goal of playing in the NHL."

In his second season with the Ontario Hockey League's Brampton Battalion, Duchene finished third on the team in scoring with 79 points (31 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games. The 18-year-old ranked second on the club in assists and third in goals, adding 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 21 playoff games.

The five-foot-11, 200-pound Haliburton, Ont., native has international experience, winning a gold medal as Canada's captain at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. He also won gold at the 2008 under-18 world championship.

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