YORKTON - The newest member of the Saskatchewan Rush is veteran Rhys Duch.
Duch, who began his NLL career back in 2009 with the long-gone San Jose Stealth, was a trade deadline acquisition coming over from the Colorado Mammoth in exchange for a third-round pick in 2023, which would become a second-round pick if Saskatchewan makes the playoffs.
Duch’s time in Colorado was short. It was in December 2022 the Mammoth signed Duch to the team’s active roster. At the time Duch most recently had logged four points (3g, 1a) and 17 loose balls in two regular season games with the Halifax Thunderbirds during the 2021-22 campaign before missing the rest of the season due to injury.
The trade was one that was not exactly unexpected, said Duch.
“I’m not surprised by the move. I knew Colorado needed to free up some space,” he said.
What was a surprise was he was the odd-man out with the Mammoth.
“I didn’t see it coming for me,” he told Yorkton This Week, adding when the Mammoth GM called on deadline day, he knew he was on the move.
As for a trade landing spot, Duch said the Rush is a good one.
“The talent pool is just incredible,” he said.
And Duch said he is excited to be playing in front of the Rush faithful too.
“The whole league knows the Rush fans are a unique group. I’m super excited,” he said.
Duch will be expected to help the Rush find a way into the playoffs. As he arrives in Saskatchewan the team sits in fifth place in the NLL West with a 5-7 record, trailing the Mammoth at 6-6, Panther City at 8-5, Calgary at 9-4 and front-running San Diego at 9-2.
Certainly Duch should add some offence to the Rush whose 141 goals is less than every team ahead of them in the standings with the exception of Colorado.
With the Mammoth this season Duch had 10 goals and 33 points in just eight games. Across the 36-year-olds 14 season career, he's amassed 452 goals and 1107 points, while going to four championships and winning two NLL titles.
Duch said he knows the Rush want him contributing on offence, whether scoring directly, or just giving others such as Mark Matthews and Robert Church a bit more room to get off their shots.
In talking to the Rush brass the message was rather clear.
“They want me to shoot the ball,” he said, adding a role on the powerplay is also anticipated, both things suiting his general approach to the game perfectly.
Duch said it will be a case of filling whatever role the Rush need him to play and focusing “on getting us over the top” and into a playoff berth.
Certainly, Duch has done it before.
The Victoria product scored the overtime winner in 2019 to give Calgary their first championship in 10 years, he won his first with the Washington Stealth back in 2010.
While not having played with most of the Rush before Duch said he expects to slot into the mix rather smoothly.
“I don’t anticipate any issues assimilating,” he said.