Perhaps no player got the season started better than Anthony Duclair. A player not expected to do all that much, he’d struggled in most of cities he’d played with during his NHL career. Still, Duclair found early success in Ottawa where he was one of the team’s few bright spots.
Talk of Duclair turning things around with the Senators led to speculation the team might consider keeping the forward, despite the obvious projections the team would be sellers at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. A restricted free agent at the end of the season, his $1.65 million salary, accompanied by his 21 goals and 34 points so far this season, he quickly became an ideal rental for a number of NHL clubs. The Senators could have put him out there and they’d have probably acquired a decent draft pick, but it felt like maybe Duclair would make the cut.
The only problem is, of late, he seems to have fallen out of favor with his coach and his production has dropped off a cliff.
Only one point is his last five games and riding a 16-game goalless drought, he’s drawn the ire of his coach who said Duclair needed to assert himself more and get involved. When he didn’t, he was benched for part of the 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and his coach has said he needs to hit the reset button.
Now, it’s uncertain where he falls in the team’s future plans with only days left before it’s too late to move him.
Senators as Sellers and Duclair’s Value
The Senators have a number of choices as one of a handful of obvious sellers at the deadline. They can hang onto Duclair and hope these recent struggles are only temporary. Can he clear his mind of his recent struggles and get back to the way he played the first 30 games of the season? Or, he is he doomed to be a player who has two completely different halves in the same year?
Knowing that despite the hiccups, teams will look to add a 20-goal man in the next couple of weeks, the Senators aren’t exactly stuck.
There aren’t a lot of affordable options for forwards who can play top-six minutes in the NHL. At his price point, Duclair is exactly that — an affordable option. His inconsistency proves there may be better options but what it would cost to acquire him, his potential to go on a streak and the ability to move him at the draft should he not pick it up make him a pretty safe bet.
And, with NHL teams often convinced a change of scenery could do a world of good, there might be a GM out there that says, ‘All Duclair needs is a change and he’ll light the world on fire!’ It doesn’t always work that way but someone is bound to take that chance.
Duclair’s story is an interesting one and it probably takes getting in the head of GM Pierre Dorion to know what Ottawa intends to do. He may see an short-term offensive explosion as the excuse they need to move Duclair for the best possible return or he may have already convinced himself this is not the player Ottawa needs moving forward. Two weeks from now, we’ll know the answer.