File this one under former Blueshirts. Anthony Duclair finally got his wish. He was dealt to the Blackhawks earlier in a four player deal involving another one time Ranger Adam Clendening. Going to the Coyotes are Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin.
The story here is simple. Chicago needed to unload some salary. So, they save $1.6 million for now by acquiring former Rangers top prospect Duclair, who earns $1.2 million until he turns restricted this summer.
Origjnally a 2013 third round pick taken 80th overall in the same NHL Draft the Rangers selected Russian Pavel Buchnevich at number 75, Duke made a good debut as a 19-year old making the club in ‘14-15. He picked up his first career NHL goal with six assists over 18 games. But Alain Vigneault soured on him.
Eventually, Duclair was packaged to the Coyotes with John Moore, a 2015 second round pick and 2016 first for Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 2016 fourth round pick on March 1, 2015.
It was a rental for the Rangers, who got the superb passing offensive defenseman in Yandle for a year and a half. Even though he was misused on the third pair, he performed well helping the team to within a game of returning to the Stanley Cup. Yandle spent the entire ‘15-16 season on Broadway leading all Blueshirts in assists (42) while his 47 points paced all their defensemen. But after a first round disappointment, GM Jeff Gorton couldn’t re-sign him. He traded Yandle’s negotiating rights to the Panthers acquiring two picks. Yandle stayed in Florida where he currently is on the top pair on a underachieving team out of the playoffs.
Many fans and bloggers were divided on that trade. In one sense, the Rangers went for it. Glen Sather rolled the dice one last time before turning over general manager duties to Gorton. They came so close. Who knows if Mats Zuccarello would’ve made the difference against Tampa Bay. We’ll never know.
On the other hand, Slats parted with another young prospect with a bright future and overpaid for a rental. But it was the right move. They didn’t win the Cup. It happens. I would’ve done the same thing.
As it turned out, Duclair hasn’t been as good as advertised. After recording 20 goals and 24 assists in his first full season during ‘15-16, he struggled last year producing only five goals and 10 helpers in 58 contests before being sent down. His third season has been inconsistent. Losing ice time to Calder hopeful Clayton Keller and a impressive young nucleus that includes Christian Fischer, Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini with Dylan Strome and Lawson Crouse rated ahead of him, Duclair requested a trade.
It made sense for him to move on. He was never gonna get ideal playing time in Arizona. He did return to the lineup and scored a goal versus his former team in a shootout loss last week. A game Duclair was superb in creating chances. In 33 games, he has nine goals and six assists for 15 points.
Now, at age 22, the Duke gets a fresh start in Chicago with a much better team. The Hawks are fighting to make the playoffs in a very deep Central Division. They’ve been playing better hockey recently having blown the doors off the disappointing Senators 7-2 on Tuesday. A game Patrick Kane recorded a career high five points in with Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews each scoring twice.
It’s a good opportunity for a talented young player to make his mark. If anyone can turn him into a better player, it’s the Hawks. Their championship pedigree should rub off on Duclair, who probably needs a kick in the ass from fiery coach John Quenneville. He healthy scratched veteran Brent Seabrook for the first time in his career. That’s how desperate the situation is.
It’ll be interesting to see how Duclair does. We’ll see if he fits in.