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Stars' Duchene 'absolutely' using Predators buyout as motivation

Derek Cain / Getty Images Sport / Getty

New Dallas Stars forward Matt Duchene said he isn't taking the Nashville Predators' decision to buy out his contract personally, but he's "absolutely" using it as motivation heading into the new season.

"When a team tells you they don't want you anymore, it's tough, right?" he said Thursday during his introductory presser. "It's business, and the game is the business, but at the same time, the game is who we are as people. I've been a hockey player since I was two years old; that's how I identify."

The Predators bought out the last three seasons of Duchene's seven-year, $56-million contract last Friday, unexpectedly allowing him to test the market as a free agent on July 1.

The 32-year-old ended up signing a one-year, $3-million pact with the Stars, a team that Duchene said was on his radar before he signed with the Predators as an unrestricted free agent four years ago.

Now, Duchene is looking forward to joining a team that has a chance to "win right away." The Stars have made the playoffs in four of the last five campaigns, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020 and making it to the conference finals this spring.

"I haven't had too many (opportunities) in my career. I've been to the second round once," he said. "That's something that's frustrating me beyond I can explain, just to not have that really good taste."

He added, "To be part of this team that's been kind of a perennial deep-in-the-playoffs-type team ... it's really exciting to come in to."

The Stars' dynamite top line of Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz will likely stay intact in 2023-24, meaning Duchene could join forces with Tyler Seguin, who he's known since he was 10 years old.

"(He) does everything well. … The fact that you can step in right away and play with a guy like that is pretty special," Duchene said. "There's not many places in the league that you have options to play with a guy like that."

Duchene netted 22 goals and 56 points in 71 contests this past season as the Predators missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. He missed the last 10 games of the campaign due to a hand injury.

The Ontario native enjoyed a career year in 2021-22, putting up 43 goals and 86 points in 78 games.

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