Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Duclair: Bargain?

Here we are four days into the NHL’s free agency season and if you search Anthony Duclair on the internet, you’ll get a couple of pages of results – many suggesting why team A, B or C could or should take a chance on the kid because he could turn out to be one of those bargain bin buys every team needs. In the weeks leading into UFA season, and even before that, Duclair’s name has been here, there and everywhere.

Be it fan sites like Oilersnation or MSM sites, it’s been duly noted Duclair, a left-winger who doesn’t turn 23 until August and is a former 20-goal scorer, might be a low-cost, high-reward for teams, including the Edmonton Oilers, who’ve already bolstered their line-up with smart-bet additions Kyle Brodziak and Tobias Rieder. Even with those additions, Duclair’s name has been put out there as a possibility for the Oilers.

While there’s no endorsement of the Oilers pursuing Duclair by Stauffer, it does qualify as another mention, and maybe one worth noting given where it’s coming from. My first question when it comes to Duclair is pretty straightforward: if he is such a bargain, why hasn’t anybody snapped him up already? Why is a guy who scored 50 goals with the Quebec Remparts and 20 with the Arizona Coyotes in 2015-16 still available?

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Nov 9, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Anthony Duclair (10) handles the puck during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Simply put, there are a number of red flags when it comes to Duclair, who was drafted 80th overall by the New York Rangers in 2013, traded to Arizona in the Keith Yandle deal in March 2015 and then traded to the Chicago Blackhawks last January. Chicago chose not to make Duclair a qualifying offer this off-season. Four seasons into his NHL career, Duclair’s next team will be his fourth.

Questions about Duclair go back to his days with the Remparts. Duclair and teammate Adam Erne were suspended by Patrick Roy for one game for “attitude issues.” Ranked as an early-to-mid second-rounder by many scouting agencies in his draft year, TSN’s Bob McKenzie provides from insight into why Duclair fell to the Rangers here. In that item, McKenzie shared a scouting report: “We thought he was selfish with too much ‘me’ and not enough ‘we’ in his game, plus he played careful. He didn’t want to pay the price against tough competition but lit up weak teams.”

Despite his 20 goals and a promising start in Arizona after being traded by New York, Duclair was dealt to Chicago. Arizona GM John Chayka said: “It’s gone back for a few years now where the team wasn’t particularly happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team and we worked through some things, tried a lot of different approaches in a lot of different ways. I hope he has success in Chicago and does good things.

“There’s a lot of things that go into a trade. Some of them are readily apparent. You see Anthony play and his speed and skill is obvious to everyone. There are some things I think should stay behind closed doors. It was a long process. We went through a lot of different approaches and a lot of different things through two different (coaching) staffs here and at the end of the day just felt that for both sides it was best to move on.”

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Edmonton Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli, speaks at a season ending press conference.

So, here we are. Four seasons and three teams after he broke into the NHL, Duclair remains available four days into free agency. I don’t know Duclair. I’ve never talked to him. I can’t say he’s a bad kid because I don’t know. Maybe, as is the case with a lot of young players, he simply needs to do some growing up and figure out what it takes to be a good pro. If that happens, maybe Duclair ends up being that bargain teams are looking for.

My guess is somebody is going to take a chance on him this off-season, likely sooner than later – maybe the Montreal Canadiens, who have former Arizona teammate Max Domi. This is one of those cases, though, that’s definitely buyer beware, as tempting as the upside might be. As it pertains to the Oilers, if I’m GM Peter Chiarelli, I’m taking a pass.


  • Leaking5w-30

    I think their are red flags about these red flags. 1) there is lots of research showing that Black teanagers are much more likely than white peers to be punished for vaugly defined reasons like “attitude issues” or disrespect. 2) the “me first” not “team first” is a trope that has been deployed disproportionately against Black athletes for 30 years. 3) there is nothing concrete that this kid has done wrong (other than struggle to produce).

    Lets try to avoid lazily repeating negative character assessments. And let’s not pass on a decent player if these rumblings are the only reason.

    • Daryl Katz

      this is the first time that i at least have seen the race card be played. nonsense! Oiler fans at least and hockey fans in general will always comment about the player regardless of the colour of his skin ! Yakupov is a good example about fans commenting about his failures as a player and never the fact that he was Muslim or anything else like that, it’s just what we hockey fans don’t do that puts up above those that watch other sports!

      • ubermiguel

        Totally weird random Edmonton Oilers fact: until 1997 when Kevin Weekes joined the league with Florida every black goalie in the history of the NHL (all four of them) had played for Edmonton. More relevant, too many franchises have passed on Duclair for there not to some issues there. The on ice ones are obvious; off-ice is pure speculation on our part.

      • Leaking5w-30

        The invisibility of these types of issues are often the heart of the problem.

        However, I agree that the yak comp is a good one for on ice performance. The dunclair article id like to see is one that looks at players who produced offensively in their rookie years and then dropped off the map for a few years. If many rebound I sign Dunclair…. if most wash out I leave him alone.

  • WheatiesHockey

    Oilers should take a chance on Duclair. He isn’t expensive and he is young. He might actually love the challenges of making the Oilers into a playoff team.

  • RJ

    Here are some reasons why this could work:

    1) The Oil have a lot of veteran experience on the coaching staff. They could provide some leadership. They haven’t had that in the past, but do now.

    2) People have mentioned Caggiula a bunch of times. Duclair has had 20 goals in a season. Caggiula has 20 goals in his career. If you can get him for under a million, then Caggiula can be trade bait.

    3) Need speed. Duclair has speed.

    4) If he performs well, then he could replace Nuge when he gets his annual injury

  • toprightcorner

    Zach Kassian was considered a “red flag” player not so long ago. If they feel Duclair realizes this is likely his last chance to have an NHL career and is willing to do whatever it takes, he is easily worth the risk. He has had 10 times the NHL success than Rattie had. You could sign him to a 2 way deal $750k/$250k

    • #97TRAIN

      My thoughts exactly. Nobody wanted Kassian on this team yet he has since become a player and fan favourite and a good guy in the community. Low risk on Duclair. Sign him up!

      • NickL89

        It’s not a given that this would work out the same way Zack’s success story has though. IMO Zack has had a ton of personal growth stemming from getting clean and he’s should be dang proud. Getting clean is one thing, turning an (allegedly) entitled/shorty attitude around is another. That said, I agree that the “this is your last chance, make it count” approach could be effective like it was with Mr Kassian

  • camdog

    Aberg, Rattie, Caguila, JP, and Yamamoto. Oilers already have 5 question marks at forward, adding Duclair would make 6. That’s too many question marks at forward. It’s not a fit right now.

  • oilslick

    No offense to Duclair but where there is smoke there probably is fire..on his 4th NHL organization I think the Oilers should pass on him. A guy they should consider though is Tyler Ennis 3 20 goal seasons in his career so far recently bought out by Minnesota and from Edmonton as well might also have something to prove and probably comes cheap.

  • Kr55

    I’d take a chance on Duclair. I’d hope the kid has had his fill of humble pie by now. He is a very skilled player and we badly need as many of those on the wings as we can these days.

  • cmandev77

    Those reports of him personally tell me to stay away from this player. No matter how cheap he comes in, I have 0 interest in him. He is a more harm than good kind of player.