Matt Duchene is no John Tavares or Victor Hedman, and that's just fine with the Brampton Battalion centre.
Duchene would stand a great chance of being the first pick overall in the National Hockey League entry draft in June if neither Tavares nor Hedman -- the consensus top two picks -- existed, but Duchene hasn't let that bother him.
Duchene and the rest of the 2009 blue-chippers playing in North America have gathered in Oshawa to play in the annual Canadian Hockey League top prospects game, being played tonight.
Duchene will be trying to keep his grasp on the No. 2 spot among North American skaters, right behind Tavares, in the latest central scouting rankings.
"I'm pretty happy with that and the challenge now is to maintain that the rest of the year," Duchene said.
"I didn't hurt myself by not making the world junior team, and what happened was almost as effective."
Duchene makes a good point, and scouts agree.
Rather than make the team and be relegated to a minor role, which probably would have occurred, Duchene went back to Brampton and was the main guy with Battalion teammates Cody Hodgson (Canada) and Evgeny Grachev (Russia) participating in the world junior.
In the five games he played without Hodgson and Grachev in the Battalion lineup, Duchene had 10 points (four goals and six assists).
Considering he would have been the focal point for the opponents' checking lines during that time, the stats are impressive.
Perhaps because of that play, Duchene managed to emerge one spot in the rankings ahead of Evander Kane of the Vancouver Giants, who was a late addition to Canada's juniors in Ottawa and had six points in six games.
"I went to see Duchene play just for that reason, to see how he would do, and he carried the load," an NHL scout said.
"He isn't a kid that you look at and say: 'Where are the holes in his game?' You look at him and think: 'How good can he be?'
"I like his explosiveness. He gets through holes really quickly and has a good change of pace."
Through 32 games, the 5-foot-11, 196-pound Duchene has 50 points (20 goals and 30 assists) and is plus-17.
In 64 games as an OHL rookie last season, Duchene, who lives in Haliburton in the off-season, had 30 goals and 20 assists.
Duchene knows that showing scouts a lot tonight might be a tall order, given he will be playing with unfamiliar teammates.
But Duchene, who turns 18 on Friday, would rather open eyes in a long playoff run with the Battalion.
General manager/coach Stan Butler made a number of big moves prior to the OHL trade deadline last week, including the acquisition of starting goaltender Thomas McCollum from the Guelph Storm, making it clear the club is serious about playing late into the spring.
"Stan was willing to make those trades and now we want to back his courage," Duchene said.
"I've said since the beginning of the season I wanted to be part of a long playoff run, and I think we really have a chance to go far."